High Summer's festival hinges on wind and rain

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The Independent Online
Several undergraduates at Bristol University last week may have been questioning if they had spent too much time in the union bar. Neither was it a rag week prank when a thoroughbred horse was spotted galloping on a treadmill, with a tube down its neck, near the main Langford precinct.

The beast was High Summer, the promising if breathless filly trained by Roger Charlton, who was at the university's equine and sports medicine centre to have a wind problem analysed.

When she is under severe pressure, High Summer's pantings can be heard from several counties away, but, following tests, scientists and connections at Beckhampton now seem happy to let the daughter of Nureyev take her chance in the Tote Festival Handicap at Ascot's Festival on Saturday.

Given the entries in her medical log book, it will astonish some that High Summer is down to as low as 3-1 for one of the calendar's most competitive handicaps. On the credit side, however, the chestnut goes into battle off a mark 20lb lower than she will be asked to carry in future handicaps. Not that she will ever run in one again. "I have nothing to lose in running her as she is unlikely to go for another handicap," Charlton said yesterday. "She has got a huge amount of talent and I had her entered in Classics for that very reason. If the handicapper is right, she has an outstanding chance of winning a valuable prize, but I don't want people whooshing in thinking that this is money for old rope.

"We've had to live with her wind problem for a long time and tying her tongue down doesn't cure the problem, it just alleviates it. The problem with this type of thing is that if you don't get oxygen to the engine then you don't get the petrol. If some horses have an asthmatic problem like this, it can affect their thinking. If she starts thinking about her breathing, she could run her race before she has even started. You can't blame horses with a pyschological problem like that or indeed ones that stop when things start going wrong.''

Little seemed to be troubling High Summer at Doncaster last time, though, when she finished second in a Listed race to My Branch. On that form she should win this weekend even if allowed a single breath. It may be instructive that Charlton no longer thinks of the filly's physical defect as a barrier to success on Saturday. He is more concerned that the mount of Tim Sprake may be inconvenienced by the ground.

"We're dealing with a filly who ideally wants an easy seven furlongs, so we don't want the ground too soft," he said. "I wouldn't think twice about taking her out at three o'clock on Saturday if the conditions weren't right. The overriding interest is her wellbeing.''

Timarida is another filly with problems. Connections are never quite sure in which country they would like her to win. It now seems the four- year-old will miss the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and try instead to add Britain to the list of France, Germany, Canada, the United States and Ireland as destinations where she has been successful. Newmarket is the latest course to receive a peg on the world map at John Oxx's Currabeg yard in Ireland.

A spokeswoman for the stable said yesterday: "Timarida's target will be the Champion Stakes with Johnny Murtagh. It has been decided that her pedigree is not suitable for tackling the Arc.''

Timarida's defection lessens the prospect of the Arc leaving home territory still further following the withdrawal on Tuesday of Paul Cole's Riyadian. Her owner, the Aga Khan, who won the event with Akiyda in 1982, is not totally without representation, however. He can still look forward to 6 October with great anticipation as Darazari, the Prix Niel runner-up, is among the market leaders.