Racing: Tatling turns on the magic

Sprinters held the call in Britain yesterday, a singular stayer in Ireland. Here, The Tatling - "a magic horse", according to trainer Milton Bradley - earned a trip to France next month for the Prix de l'Abbaye after a typically resilient success in the Dubai International Airport World Trophy. The seven-year-old, racing for the 56th time, gave 5lb and a head beating to Var, reeling in his rival in the last few strides under a fine ride from young Ryan Moore.

Sprinters held the call in Britain yesterday, a singular stayer in Ireland. Here, The Tatling - "a magic horse", according to trainer Milton Bradley - earned a trip to France next month for the Prix de l'Abbaye after a typically resilient success in the Dubai International Airport World Trophy. The seven-year-old, racing for the 56th time, gave 5lb and a head beating to Var, reeling in his rival in the last few strides under a fine ride from young Ryan Moore.

The line between the best handicap sprinters and the classier types is fine these days and The Tatling has worked his passage across it from the lowliest origins. Bradley claimed him for just £15,000 at Catterick two years ago; yesterday's success was his sixth since then and brought his career earnings to £422,771. This season, his best day came at Royal Ascot with victory in the King's Stand Stakes, followed by runner-up spots in the Nunthorpe and, two weeks ago, in a Group 3 contest at Longchamp. "It is just amazing how he keeps his form," Bradley said.

The Tatling is now favourite to go two better than last year's third place in France's sprinting showpiece on Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe day, where he is likely to face ex-American Var and Airwave, third yesterday, again. The valuable Hong Kong Sprint in December is also pencilled in. "The horse will tell us whether or not he's had enough by then," Bradley added.

The Chepstow trainer acquired The Tatling from David Nicholls' yard and perhaps his Thirsk-based colleague had the best of the argument. At Ayr yesterday he took his fourth Gold Cup in five years when Funfair Wane, a 33-1 shot ridden by Paul Doe in the colours of Kevin Keegan's wife Jean, beat Fantasy Believer (14-1). It was the five-year-old's second victory in Scotland's most valuable contest (£120,690); when he won two years ago he had The Tatling in second place and of his two Nicholls-trained predecessors, Bahamian Pirate was the horse in front of The Tatling in the Nunthorpe Stakes in August. The 2000 winner, Continent (18-1), finished third yesterday with 8-1 favourite Mutawaqed fourth.

The weather on a rainlashed Curragh did not stop the faithful giving the remarkable Vinnie Roe the ovation he deserved as he took his fourth consecutive Irish St Leger, an unprecedented feat in Group 1 company.

The Dermot Weld-trained six-year-old was always travelling comfortably close to the pace, won his tussle with First Charter halfway down the straight, drew two and a half lengths clear of Brian Boru in the final furlong, and passed the post with Pat Smullen standing high in the irons, punching the air in delight. "A very special day," Weld said. "He's had his problems and doesn't jump out of bed as quick as he used to, so a win like this is real satisfaction."

With the greatest respect to Galeota, winner of yesterday's Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury, the most informative juvenile contest of the weekend with a view to events on the Rowley Mile in the spring is likely to be today's National Stakes at the Curragh. Aidan O'Brien has farmed the race in recent years - One Cool Cat scored 12 months ago - and today fields three of the seven runners, with Russian Blue the perceived first string. The unbeaten Godolphin colourbearer Dubawi is the sole British-based challenger.

Richard Hannon-trained Galeota's all-the-way length defeat of Mystical Land was another demonstration of the talent of Moore, who was last year's champion apprentice and is surely a future champion jockey.

This season's title continues nip and tuck; with Kieren Fallon absent in Ireland, Frankie Dettori drew level with the narrowest of successes in the Watership Down Sales race. It took the judge nearly 10 minutes to separate his mount Salamanca, Arabian Dancer and Unmiya after the three fillies crossed the line nose to nose.

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