Racing: Slickly hits easy target on way to stud career

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The Independent Online

Quantity today, quality yesterday. There are so many horses declared at Windsor and Leicester this afternoon that the course executives are begging runners in later races not to turn up until those who competed earlier have cleared the racecourse stables. It is to be hoped that security in the lorry parks, where the overflow will have to wait, is tight.

Quantity today, quality yesterday. There are so many horses declared at Windsor and Leicester this afternoon that the course executives are begging runners in later races not to turn up until those who competed earlier have cleared the racecourse stables. It is to be hoped that security in the lorry parks, where the overflow will have to wait, is tight.

And of course only a cynic would imply that the triers will be easier to spot than the non-triers in the huge maiden fields that are an introduction to their careers as two-year-olds and last-chance saloons for older horses before a trip to the sales and employment elsewhere.

The rich variety of the sport was in evidence across Europe yesterday. To Italy first, and Milan, where one of Godolphin's forgotten horses, Slickly, landed back-to-back victories in the Premio Vittorio di Capua. The Frankie Dettori-ridden six-year-old was making a rare visit to the track – his previous race had been his 2001 visit to San Siro – but defeat was never in doubt as he made virtually every yard and came home well clear of German raider Horeion Directa.

The race bears the dubious honour of being Europe's softest Group One mile prize, and Slickly's task was made the easier by intended runner Gossamer's declaration arriving too late on Friday morning. But no matter, they all count and Godolphin's seasonal top-level total worldwide this year now stands at 16.

Yesterday's win was Slickly's fourth in the highest grade and he is actually no mean performer when on song, having won the Grand Prix de Paris at three and taken the scalp of Banks Hill in the Jacques le Marois last year.

It is difficult enough to get a shine on a grey coat but Slickly's shone like burnished steel yesterday, a credit to Saeed Bin Suroor and his back-room squad, but whether or not the son of Linamix will race again remains to be decided.

"We've run out of time with him, really," the Godolphin racing manager, Simon Crisford, said. "He's had sore heels and other niggling problems and missed all his earlier targets. He's entered in Hong Kong later in the year, but we'll see."

The afternoon's other Group One race, the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp proved a benefit for Criquette Head-Maarek, who provided the first two home, Dedication and Medecis.

Olivier Doleuze, who is leaving the stable for a career in Hong Kong at the end of the season, had the pick and chose right, edging Dedication home by a neck in a tight finish. Godolphin's Meshaheer did best of the British raiders in sixth, with May Ball (John Gosden) and Atavus (George Margarson) further behind.

The focus was on staying two-year-olds at the Curragh, where Aidan O'Brien's four-year dominance in the Group Three Beresford Stakes, came to an end when the Ballydoyle No 1 hope Brian Boru was caught in the last stride and beaten a head by the Aga Khan's Alamshar.

In the saddle, Johnny Murtagh earned every penny of his fee, as he was hard at work before the turn into the straight. But once the son of Key Of Luck engaged overdrive the result, in a race that has spotlighted smart performers like Johann Cruyff, Saratoga Springs and Vinnie Roe in the past, was impressive.

Later on the Curragh card Richard Whitaker's charge Captain Rio, last year's top-rated British-trained juvenile, retrieved his reputation with his first victory of the season, bolting home in the six-furlong Listed contest.

Top class hurdler and folk hero Limestone Lad may have finished unplaced behind American Gothic in the Irish Cesarewitch at the Co Kildare track, but at points west and east there were reminders that the burgeoning jump season that will soon be upon us in full bloom.

At Limerick, More Than A Stroll, trained by canny Arthur Moore, won the Munster National and indicated with his tidy round of jumping that any future ventures to Britain may have to be taken seriously.

And in the Czech Republic, locally-trained Maskul, ridden by Peter Gehm, coped best with atrocious conditions, overcoming standing water and waterlogged ploughed fields as well as the formidable Taxis obstacle, to win the 112th Velka Pardubika.

British runner Celibate was a late withdrawal but West Country amateur Dominic Alers-Hankey completed the gruelling course safely on another local horse, Blin.

Fallon buys an early ticket to Arlington

Kieren Fallon will risk missing out on vital wins in the jockeys' title race by travelling early to Chicago to gain experience of the track at Arlington, venue of the Breeders' Cup a week on Saturday.

After riding a treble at York on Saturday, Fallon said: "I'll be going out to Arlington on the Wednesday before the Breeders' Cup, so the bigger the lead I can get before I leave the better it will be. I've never ridden there, so I want to get as much experience of the course as I can on the Thursday, on the turf and the dirt tracks, and hopefully get a race ride or two on the Friday."

The four-times champion's main mount in Arlington will be Golan. The British Flat campaign ends on 9 November

Fallon's York three-timer – a demonstration of his sheer strength and will-to-win – took his score to 135 during the confines of the turf season, which determines the title, and he is now 16 ahead of Richard Hughes, but in essence his lead is only 14. Fallon reasoned: "It looks as if I'm going to lose two wins I had on Elusive City [prohibited substances were found in routine tests on the colt after he had won at Lingfield and Goodwood] and they could be costly."

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