At 54, Kelleway has amassed a big-race record that would satisfy many trainers better connected than him. As a National Hunt jockey he won the big one, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, on What A Myth in 1969, as well as two Champion Hurdles and a Whitbread Gold Cup.
With those glorious moments behind him, Kelleway has never been one to look for small prizes to collect as a trainer. He has always appeared to pick the prestigious event first and then try to locate a horse to run in it.
Swiss Maid persuaded the trainer that this Quixotic path should be followed when she won the 1978 Sun Chariot Stakes. Since then he has won a French Oaks, Champion Stakes, several races at Royal Ascot and the 1987 Grand Prix de Paris with Risk Me at the French track to which he returned yesterday.
Following each of his improbable victories the acceptance speech has been much the same. Kelleway has described himself as the best thing since the bread-slicer was invented, but has then outlined how the numbers at his Shalfleet yard on Newmarket's Bury Road had declined. (That he can train is largely undisputed, but his buttering-up techniques have never been award winners).
The trusted theme was not abandoned when Pelder ran second in the Prix d'Harcourt earlier this month as a 76-1 chance. Kelleway was rather pleased by that as his fellow Newmarket trainer, Luca Cumani, had told him the best place for Pelder was the equine version of the yard where cars crushed into the shape of an orange box are dropped. "It's a pity such a maestro has 40 empty boxes in Newmarket," Kelleway said of himself after that performance. "They'll realise it when I'm dead."
When Pelder returned to Longchamp yesterday it was for a particularly strong Prix Ganay. He went into the race on a typically outspoken battlecry from his trainer, who estimated that the five-year-old had come on 10lb for his seasonal debut.
In the race itself, it became clear this assessment was wide of the mark. Pelder had improved much more than Kelleway had believed. Inside the last furlong only the Champion Hurdler, Alderbrook, could keep tabs and he was three lengths adrift of the 12.9-1 shot at the line.
Richard Of York, one of the few who acted on the heavy ground, was three- quarters of a length back in third. Hernando, who was trained by Franois Boutin until the great Frenchman died last year, was fifth on his debut for John Hammond, having been well backed on the Pari-Mutuel. Richard Hannon's Right Win was eighth, one place in front of last year's winner Marildo, while Millkom, who ran up a sequence last year, was last of 10.
"This is one of my greatest ever moments," Kelleway said afterwards. "Pelder stays any distance, he might even get six miles. The world is now Pelder's oyster. He will go wherever the ground is soft but I think he might be good enough to win on a faster surface. He is entered up all over the place and the Arc could be his end-of-season target."
Lanfranco Dettori, the winning jockey, divided his praise between horse and trainer. "On this ground he is a champion," the Italian said. "All credit must go to the trainer for bringing him back to this sort of form."
On the first afternoon of Group One activity in Europe, Italy's offering, the Premio Parioli (Italian 2,000 Guineas) at the Capannelle in Rome, also went to a British horse, Peter Chapple-Hyam's maiden, Prince Arthur. It was the Manton man's second Italian Classic following White Muzzle's success in the 1993 Derby Italiano.
There was a form line here to the 2,000 Guineas with the performance of Moon King, who finished third to Celtic Swing in the Greenham Stakes. For those who wanted a crutch to support the idea that Lady Herries's colt is the new coming of greatness this was a disturbing result. Moon King was 13th of 14.Reuse content