Iris blossoms

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The Independent Online
THE Newmarket trainer Michael Jarvis came close to a big-race double yesterday when Blue Iris took the Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury, and Yoush finished a close third to Naked Welcome in the John Smith's Magnet Cup at York.

The Newbury race, worth pounds 71,214 to the winner, was the richest of the day and it was clear from half-way that Blue Iris had the five-furlong contest under control. As soon as Willie Carson released an inch of rein she surged three and a half lengths clear of Needham Star and Ortolan.

The Super Sprint, restricted to two-year-olds sold at public auction last year for 30,000 guineas or less, gives the chance of a big payout for a small investment. Blue Iris cost her trainer, who sent out her sire Petong to win top sprints 11 years ago, just 7,800 guineas last October.

The seven-furlong Donnington Castle Stakes often throws up a decent horse for the future, and yesterday's renewal, dominated by the three newcomers among the seven runners, looks set to follow the trend.

The winner, Zelzelah, settled the issue with a spectacular burst of speed going into the final furlong, and there was much to like also about the two colts who followed her home.

The runner-up Axford was going sweetly when he lost his action completely two furlongs out, but once he recovered his balance he ran on well. Like Blue Iris, Zelzelah - quoted at 40-1 for the 1,000 Guineas - carries the colours of her trainer, in this case Paul Kelleway.

Yoush, favourite for the pounds 56,730 York feature, found the 8lb penalty he picked up at Sandown nine days ago just too much. In the closing stages he was always held by Ringmaster, who looked the winner until cut down by the last-to-first swoop of the well-backed Naked Welcome, who was given a perfectly judged ride by Darryl Holland for Martin Fetherston-Godley to win by two necks.

Saxon Maid justified uneasy favouritism in the Foster's Silver Cup and provided a pointer to the chances of her stablemate Larrocha, favourite for this afternoon's Irish Oaks. Sheikh Mohammed's two Sadler's Wells fillies often work together, and their trainer Luca Cumani said: "Larrocha is the better, but she is taking several steps up in class at the Curragh and is only a potential star, not yet a proven one."

Cumani nominated the Oaks third Pure Grain as the chief danger to Larrocha. But the Sheikh also has the Italian Oaks winner, Valley of Gold, and the progressive Russian Snows in the race he sponsors, and could have an unprecedented clean sweep.