Racing: Stylish Chic earns her Celebration
Doubts and reservations were not enough to stop Chic becoming the latest in a series of talented girls to upstage the boys this season as she coped admirably with muddy ground at Goodwood yesterday to beat Nayyir in the Celebration Mile.
In the build-up to the Group Two feature her presence in the field had been uncertain because of the rain-softened going and an hour before the race her trainer Sir Michael Stoute was questioning his judgement in letting her run. But the master of Freemason Lodge does not often get it wrong and, with the aid of a sympathetic, finely-judged ride from Kieren Fallon, Chic came from last to first to win comfortably enough in the end by a length and a quarter. The first two were a full five lengths clear of third-placed Hurricane Alan.
The Celebration Mile is sometimes a consolation prize for a horse just below the top tier, sometimes a stepping stone to greater things. The latter is definitely the case as far as Chic is concerned and Nayyir can probably count himself doubly unlucky yesterday. The six-year-old had to cope with traffic problems before bursting clear going to the final furlong, only to be thwarted by an upwardly mobile competitor from a team in irresistible form.
All six of Chic's rivals were in front of her as the field crossed to the stands side of the track for the final three-furlong straight run for home. As Mick Kinane extricated a full-of-running Nayyir, the 5-4 favourite, from a pocket on the rails and the gelding quickened, the £58,000 prize seemed his. But then Chic began her run, cutting a diagonal swathe through the pack. For a stride or two it seemed the daughter of Machiavellian would fail, but Fallon steadied her, asked again, and found a willing partner. "It was very heavy ground and the two in front went off too quick," said the Irishman. "They could not have kept up that pace, and my filly couldn't go with them anyway early on. When Mick went I thought he had stolen the race. I was looking to peg him back and it became a case of trying to find the gaps, and they came."
Four-year-old Chic, owned and bred by Cheveley Park Stud, picked up the girl-power banner already carried by the likes of her fellow colourbearer and stablemate Russian Rhythm, Frizzante and Soviet Song and, among the youngest generation, Damson and Divine Proportions. She holds top-level entries in next month's Matron Stakes at the Curragh and the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket in October. "She has been working like a Group One horse at home," added Fallon. "She has progressed, but then was always going to be better at four than at three."
Chic was completing a notable family double, for just over an hour earlier her baby Danehill half-sister Echelon (the pair are out of Coronation Stakes heroine Exclusive) made a winning debut at Newmarket in the six-furlong maiden, surging two lengths clear of a field of colts. And another off the élite juvenile Cheveley Park Stud conveyor belt, Red Peony (this one trained by Sir Mark Prescott), forms the first line of the home defence against Irish raider Luas Line in this afternoon's Group Three Prestige Stakes at Goodwood.
A horse from a humbler background, Prince Aaron, was promoted to favouritism for next month's Ayr Gold Cup on the strength of his narrow but decisive success in the Listed sprint at Newmarket. The four-year-old gelding, ridden yesterday by Gary Carter, is one of just three under the care of Conrad Allen. He missed tilts at three other good prizes - the Bunbury Cup, Wokingham Stakes and Stewards Cup - because of an insufficiently high rating, but the 7lb penalty picked up yesterday ensures he will make the cut in Scotland. "Perhaps I had him a bit too well handicapped," said Allen.
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