Racing: Vinnie Roe aims for record Leger win

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The Independent Online

Though the Flat record record holder Doctor Syntax, who won the Preston Gold Cup seven times in a row from 1815 to 1821, will hardly be spinning in his grave, victory for Vinnie Roe will put the Group-race sequences of Further Flight (four Jockey Club Cups) and Cricket Ball (four Prix de Meautry) in the shade.

The seven-year-old takes on the Curragh test after having recovered from a slight setback last week, but Dermot Weld is satisfied with the pride of Rosewell House. "I am happy with him in every way," he said, "and he is in great order. He would not be risked otherwise." Weld will be keeping a weather eye on the skies in the hope that rain arrives to ease the ground.

Vinnie Roe first won the 14-furlong marathon when he was of Classic age, beating another splendid evergreen veteran, the Doncaster victor Millenary, in the process. This time round, one of his perceived chief rivals is John Oxx-trained Shalapour, who ducked the clash with Scorpion on Town Moor in favour of tomorrow's task.

Shalapour, the only three-year-old in the field, finished three-quarters of a length in front of Vinnie when they met at Leopardstown last month, but is 8lb worse off. Like most of those who will turn up on the Co Kildare plain tomorrow, Oxx is full of admiration for the four-time hero. "It's a difficult race to win once," he said, "so to keep doing it is amazing. Vinnie likes the track, it's his distance and its the time of year when there is often ease in the ground. It all suits him perfectly." The likely favourite is the Coronation Cup winner Yeats, bidding to fill a rare blank on Aidan O'Brien's CV. The master of Ballydoyle, who introduced High Chaparral's sister Chenchikova with a smooth two-length maiden success at the Curragh yesterday, has yet to win his local St Leger.

The challenge from Britain is four-pronged: Gamut (Sir Michael Stoute), The Whistling Teal (Geoff Wragg), Collier Hill (Alan Swinbank) and Franklins Gardens (Mark Tompkins. The last pair, like Vinnie Roe, and trialling for the Melbourne Cup.

At Ayr, David Nicholls saddles eight runners in the Ayr Gold Cup as he tries to win one of the season's most competitive sprint handicaps for the fifth time in six years. In a maximum field of 28 his squad includes two previous victors in Continent (2001) and Funfair Wane (2002 and last year), plus Just James, Traytonic, Peace Offering, Primus Inter Pares, Merlin's Dancer and Pieter Breughel.

Nicholls, already on the mark at the Western Meeting, courtesy of Sawaah yesterday, sends Ice Planet, who missed the big-race cut, for today's consolation Silver Cup. Although the gelding hosed up in the Great St Wilfrid last time, a chance is taken with Mutamared (2.30), another apparently on an upward curve.

Mutamared, a son of Nureyev who cost Hamdan Al Maktoum 500,000gns as a yearling, was deemed surplus to his owner's requirements after achieving only a maiden victory from eight runs for Marcus Tregoning and sent to the sales in July, where Kevin Ryan acquired him for 65,000gns, had him gelded, and produced him to win at Newmarket earlier this month.

At Newbury today, Tregoning runs another of the Sheikh's well-bred, expensive acquisitions, Shahin (2.45) in the Haynes, Hanson and Clark Conditions Stakes over a mile.

The Kingmambo colt, a $950,000 (£520,000) purchase last year, can progress on his July debut fifth in a hot Newmarket race in the Berkshire contest that has unearthed the likes of Shergar, Shahrastani, Rainbow Quest, Henbit, Unfuwain, King's Theatre and Nayef in the past.

Richard Edmondson

Nap: Merveilles

(Newbury 2.45)

NB: Ice Planet

(Ayr 2.30)

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