Kinane's late flourish foiled

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It was not a good day for Peter Chapple-Hyam or his doctor. The Manton trainer suffered a turn at Chantilly yesterday before the Prix du Jockey- Club and his blood pressure was not helped when his Polaris Flight missed out on the Classic by a whisker and then failed to get the race in the stewards' room.

Chapple-Hyam was taken to the course doctor after complaining of the same pins-and-needles symptoms that struck him last month when his physician advised him to lose weight and throw out the cigarettes. He was forced to watch the race from a bed and if he had been attached to a heart monitor it would have gone potty in the closing stages.

Polaris Flight was crossed by Ragmar in the straight, but the Chantilly stewards rejected Mick Kinane's assertion that this had cost his mount the race. The humbly bred Ragmar was allowed to keep his position and provide his rider, Gerald Mosse, and trainer Pascal Bary with their second French Derby in three years following the success of Celtic Arms in 1994.

Chapple-Hyam's other runners were Astor Place (a hampered and fast-finishing eighth) and High Baroque, who was one place further back.

Ragmar apart, the most disciplined performance came from the television cameraman who avoided picture wobble. The problems began at the start when our hero's lens seemed to be within heat-feeling distance of the beast on the inside. It looked as though something dreadful was going to happen as the animal's tail went up and it began to show its nerves for the assignment ahead, but the shot moved elsewhere as the deposit emerged.

All this seemed to affect Julian Wilson, who has come in for some fearful criticism recently over his French diction. This has been frightfully unfair as Wislon's French pronunciation is at least as good as his English.

After Ragmar, Polaris Flight and Le Destin flashed past the post, blurred together, Julian told us: "The one thing we can be certain of is that Don Micheletto finished third." To some that was fairly uncertain though if the three that finished ahead of him were taken into account.

Ragmar was eventually announced the victor by a nostril, a similar distance to which Mosse (who has what Eastenders call a major hooter) presumably won his school sports races. Mosse and Kinane were collected for interview after the Classic but their words were made insignificant by the performance of a course official. This purposeful lady in a lemon jacket and wielding a portable phone edged remorselessy closer to the jockeys before physically trying to remove Mosse from the conversation.

The lasting impression, and this comes fairly regularly in French races, was that the pattern of the Classic was such that it was difficult to be adamant that the best horse won the event. This is rarely the case with Britain's version at Epsom.

The main market movements for Saturday's Classic over the weekend concerned Michael Stoute's pairing of Dr Massini and Double Leaf. The former was made outright favourite at 4-1 by Ladbrokes, while William Hill reduced the latter to 14-1 from 25-1 on Friday.

This cannot have been unconnected with the fact that Channel 4 attended Stoute's Freemason Lodge yard and cajoled the trainer into giving an uncommonly upbeat message about his pair.

This betting-by-broadcasts seemed to continue when footage of Shaamit beating Glory Of Dancer in a Saturday morning gallop saw Ladbrokes cut the former to 10-1 (from 16-1) and push out the latter to 6-1 (from 5- 1). They seemed to take the evidence of this limbering-up exercise more seriously than the respective trainers. Paul Kelleway was in such japing mood that it was hard to take the gallop at face value, while William Haggas, Shaamit's man, was not exactly doing somersaults of glee. "He worked all right and I am satisfied, but he went no differently to how he has for the past six weeks," Haggas said. "He's a genuine horse who works well."


3.50 (Prix du Jockey-Club): 1. RAGMAR (G Mosse); 2. Polaris Flight; 3. Le Destin. 15 ran. sht-hd, sht-hd. (P Bary). Pari-Mutuel: (to 1F stake): 10.30; 4.70, 10.02, 8.50. DF: 280.30.