Racing: Stayers give all to share Cup cheers

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The Independent Online

The Doncaster Cup is a race that makes drama and heroes, the likes of Brown Jack, Ardross, Double Trigger and Persian Punch. To their number we must now add Kasthari and Millenary, whom modern photography could not separate after a punishing two miles and two furlongs yesterday. It was a long way to travel for a dead-heat.

The Doncaster Cup is a race that makes drama and heroes, the likes of Brown Jack, Ardross, Double Trigger and Persian Punch. To their number we must now add Kasthari and Millenary, whom modern photography could not separate after a punishing two miles and two furlongs yesterday. It was a long way to travel for a dead-heat.

The two leads were still heaving in the winners' enclosure when the result swiftly came over the Tannoy, but the announcement was no populist gesture for a substantial and colourful crowd which did not struggle to enjoy itself on a beautiful Ladies' Day. It was a quick decision, but the right one. Two fists were raised in the air.

Few Doncaster Cups - and it is the oldest race run under the rules of racing, having been first contested in 1766 - have owned such a perfect narrative. Kasthari and Millenary ran very different races, but formed a thrilling union right on the line.

It was another, though, which helped form the first striking image of the Group Two race. Darasim led the wagon train across the plain of Town Moor. All eight runners formed a perfect single file. Kasthari was always riding shotgun, never further back than second, while Richard Quinn squirrelled Millenary away in an effort to eke out the veteran's energy.

Darasim, the favourite, tried to break the field with a spurt just after they had run over the crest of Rose Hill, but ultimately damaged himself most. Romany Prince, in the Persian Punch colours, had been the first to break the echelon. He had a surge, along with Dancing Bay and High Accolade, but Millenary was kept away from the sparks up front.

The seven-year-old made his move last and most decisively, first joining and then passing the grey form of Kasthari just inside the final furlong. It was only in the final flourish that his old legs betrayed him and permitted his rival a share of the spoils. "I knew three strides off the line I'd got him [Kasthari] and you've normally done enough by then, but then he just ran out of stamina," Quinn, riding his first winner since fracturing a kneecap at Windsor six weeks ago, said. "He pulled up three strides past the line. That is Millenary's absolute maximum."

John Dunlop, Millenary's trainer, admitted he had never heard of Kasthari. He will remember him now. "I was worried about the ground and he did change legs half-way round, but Richard gave him a lovely, patient ride," he said. "Millenary likes the Yorkshire air because, besides winning the St Leger here four years ago, he won the Yorkshire Cup last May."

Millenary will run next in the Jockey Club Cup at Newmarket or Prix du Cadran on Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe day. Kasthari's reward is less exotic. He will soon be faced with a row of three. "That was just a stepping stone for jumping," Howard Johnson, the trainer, said. "That's his last race on the Flat and he'll go novice chasing."

The day's Classic weather vane was the May Hill Stakes, a race won by Reams Of Verse in 1996 before going on to Oaks success. Playful Act at least remains on the early part of the path. John Gosden's filly did it the courageous way, being played some time out by Jimmy Fortune and holding out. The favourite, Queen Of Poland, and Maids Causeway came to storm the castle, but Playful Act pushed back their ladders and was going away at the finish.

"I wouldn't even muck around with a Guineas preparation," Gosden said. "Stamina looks to be her strong suit so it's the Oaks [for which Coral's 33-1 stands out]. Playful Act is very game and comes from a terrific family. The dam has already thrown Percussionist and Echoes Of Eternity and it is no mean feat to produce three Group winners from your first three foals."

Percussionist will not be around to maintain family honour in tomorrow's St Leger, for which 10 runners have been declared. The Derby fourth is suffering from a stretch differential, which, for those who do not possess a stethoscope, is plainly known as a high white-cell count.



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