HORSE RACING: English Rose maintains the Abbaye habit

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The Independent Online
Hever Golf Rose is likely to join Lammtarra at Belmont Park after extending the winning run of British and Irish horses in the Prix de l'Abbaye to 17 years. It was the eighth success this year for Hever Golf Rose - a post-war record for a British-trained filly or mare aged four or more - and if she wins the Breeders' Cup Sprint she will have posted victories in six different countries since May.

The filly, who is trained by Joe Naughton at Epsom, took over the lead from just after half-way, defeating Cherokee Rose by 21/2 lengths, with the Henry Candy-trained Eveningperformance a neck away in third.

Naughton will now seriously contemplate a tilt at the Breeders' Cup Sprint. "We'll have a drink over it but I've no qualms about America," he said. "She keeps on improving despite having endured a very long year."

In the Prix Marcel Boussac, Henry Cecil's Solar Crystal tried to make nearly all the running and still plugged on gamely into third place behind Miss Tahiti and Shake The Yoke. The first two were swapping finishing positions from the Prix d'Aumale two weeks ago, but still looked strong prospects for next year's Classics. And, on a day when comparisons with the greatest thoroughbreds were regularly invoked, Miss Tahiti sparked recollections of Allez France, who took this race in the same Daniel Wildenstein colours in 1972 on the way to winning the Arc two years later.

But following Saturday's successes, when the French were unable to prevent the Prix Dollar and Prix de Royallieu being exported to Newmarket and the Curragh respectively, there was further success for the visitors. John Oxx, the trainer of Russian Snows, struck again in Prix de l'Opera with Timarida. With Ridgewood Pearl also advertising his skills with Group One wins at Ascot and Longchamp this year, Oxx has at last made the transition to the international stage.

For, Jason Weaver, Hever Golf Rose's rider, the expectation of a first Longchamp win had come to nothing 24 hours earlier when Double Trigger had proved unable to translate his position as favourite into success in the Prix du Cadran.

The defeat has thrown into doubt Double Trigger's participation in the Melbourne Cup, for which he is also favourite.

The horse will go into quarantine for that race today and his trainer, Mark Johnston, must decide quickly whether it is worthwhile sending his charge on the marathon trip. "We have to get flights booked so we will have to move pretty quickly," he said yesterday.

Immediately after Saturday's race Johnston was critical of Weaver, whom he felt should have quickened the tempo earlier. "I didn't want it to be a real slog, but with hindsight perhaps it should have been," he said.

Yesterday he added: "I've watched the video of the race several times and they didn't start racing until the last four furlongs.

"I intend exploring every avenue before pulling him out of Melbourne. After all, he is still the best horse entered."

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