Racing: Supreme Soviet earns adulation of the masses

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The Independent Online

The five-year-old is the main representative of the Elite Racing Club, they of the white colours with black spots and cap, the people who get everywhere. Wherever you are in Britain, a member of the Club is only a matter of yards away. There are around 18,000 of them, largely unnoticed, among us.

Elite was launched just over 10 years ago and now has 21 horses spread between nine trainers. The best of them now, the best there has ever been, was the sturdy filly which trotted out under a dirty sky yesterday.

There was, however, peril readily available for the 7-4 favourite. Soviet Song, who had run just once this year, when third in the Royal meeting at York, was allotted the No1 stall. In a slowly run race this could lead to traffic problems. And it was a slowly run race.

Cape Columbine led without much conviction, from Peeress, while Soviet Song was plumb last, almost entirely blocked out on the rails. Two furlongs from home, Johnny Murtagh, Soviet Song's jockey, seemed to be in trouble. He was apparently wrapped in chains inside a watery tank. Escapology was required.

The links started to burst as the Irishman angled his partner gently to the centre of the course. The grandstand shrieking began as Soviet Song was observed mounting some sort of challenge. A furlong out, the stinging acceleration which has distinguished her career propelled the mare to the lead. By the time the line came, Soviet Song was two and a half lengths to the good, too good for Alexander Goldrun and Peeress. Never have so many been so cheered by a single mare.

The vanquished recognised that it was no disgrace to lose to a winner of this calibre. "I am delighted with Peeress because it was her first time in a Group One and she's acquitted herself well," Sir Michael Stoute, her trainer, said. "I think a very high class filly won the race."

Jim Bolger, Alexander Goldrun's trainer, added: "It has been pleasant trying to take on Soviet Song over a mile, but we will not be in a hurry to do it again. Soviet Song is not just good, she's brilliant. We salute her. She's the real deal."

This was also a victory for Murtagh's sang-froid, a swift return to the top after Motivator's defeat in the Eclipse. "You don't change just because it's a big race," the jockey said of his tactics. "You ride them the way they're supposed to be ridden.

"She is really tough and classy. I won a Breeders' Cup Mile on Ridgewood Pearl and you would have to put this filly up there with her. The turn of foot she showed was electric. She's getting close to where she was last year. I still think she can improve through the year. She's going to be tough in all the big mile races."

The principal lady on ladies' day (which attracted a modern-day record crowd of 14,192) is now 5-4 favourite to stage another repeat, in the Sussex Stakes she won at Goodwood last season. Indeed, the brochure from which her trips will be chosen is plump and inviting.

There is also the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, which will be conveniently run locally at Newmarket this year, as well as the Ridgewood Pearl route and the Breeders' Cup Mile at Belmont Park in October. Coral go 8-1 for the New York race.

Fanshawe can now anticipate further glories as Soviet Song has proved the talent remains at a relatively advanced age. "You worry about her every day so it's great to see her back again," the trainer said. "Dame Kelly Holmes was not in the first flush of youth when she won her gold medals.

"There are very few horses in training which can quicken up like she can. Before she ran at York she was just getting past her lead horse on the gallops, but since she ran there she has been whizzing by. She has really shown her old zest in the last 10 days."


CARLISLE: 6.30 Kew The Music 7.00 Celestial Princess 7.30 Cheerleader 8.05 Wing Collar 8.35 Son Of Thunder 9.05 Blades Boy

CATTERICK: 2.40 Imperial Lucky 3.15 Tanforan 3.50 Tiamo 4.25 Crystal Mystic 4.55 Sir Northerndancer 5.25 Pearl's A Singer