Old guard stand aside for Canon Can

ST LEGER MEETING: Double Trigger's rider blames a roving camera as an emerging four-year-old joins the stayers' hierarchy
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The Independent Online
It was billed as the two-horse race, but the Doncaster Cup may yesterday have provided the two-horse watershed. Double Trigger and Further Flight, who have entertained us for so many years, were no match for the younger pairing of Canon Can and Persian Punch, and in the four minutes it took to run the Group Three contest they suddenly looked very old. It may be time to prepare the tributes.

There were quiet huddles around the beaten veterans in the winners' enclosure. Michael Roberts, Double Trigger's jockey, complained that his horse had been distracted by television's roving camera and has lodged an official complaint. Barry Hills said Further Flight would have appreciated more give in the ground. Both camps seemed to accept, however, that the biggest influence in defeat was anno Domini.

There is no need to be sombre about yesterday's race. It is better to remember Double Trigger and Further Flight as they were and celebrate the emergence of Canon Can as a horse who may carry their mantle as an enduring stayer. Henry Cecil's four-year-old is 8-1 from 14-1 for the Cesarewitch with Coral and will stay in training next year. He will never look any better than he did yesterday.

Canon Can's appearance was typical of a horse that emerges from Warren Place, and there can be no greater compliment than that. The most imposing shape in the parade ring belonged to Persian Punch, whose superstructure could house several Greeks, while there were signs of ageing about the trumpeted players.

Further Flight is now a ghostly figure with a milky coat, and if you lost him in a snowdrift you could never get him back. The years have taken the richness out of Double Trigger's chestnut hide but he did look on good terms with himself. But then his form was superior and, uniquely in this race, his testicles were still intact.

It was the traditional Cup-race start with Double Trigger being forced to the head of the field despite the impression that he was the animal that least wanted to be there. From the outset Roberts was pushing away as if his vehicle still had the handbrake on, but we had seen this all before. What became revelatory was the favourite's easy capitulation four furlongs out. "I thought I'd go and annoy him [Double Trigger] as it is the only way to beat him," Kieren Fallon, Canon Can's rider, reported. "He kept finding a bit more and a bit more but in the end he had nothing left to finish with.''

Canon Can, though, still had plenty of petrol sloshing around his tank and with Fallon at his ferocious best at the accelerator he was never going to be overhauled. Persian Punch trundled into second while Further Flight finished in front of Double Trigger for the first time in six efforts as he completed an alliterative frame.

Canon Can was remarkable only for his slowness on the Newmarket gallops early in his career, but time and distance have seen him flourish. Midnight Line, a stablemate, is at the other end of the precocity ladder, and she completed a hat-trick in the May Hill Stakes. Optimistic could finish only seventh in this contest, but then her owner, Mystic Meg, knew she would.

The trophy for this Group Three race could probably find its own way to Warren Place. Cecil has now won seven of the last 11 runnings and 11 in all, including one with Midnight Air, Midnight Line's dam.

The most recent victory was further testament to Fallon's skills, as his conveyance decided to chart the path of a six dog. This double lifted the Irishman on to 140 winners, seven ahead of Frankie Dettori, who had only a damaged thumb to show for his efforts following Noisette's sprawling exit from the stalls in the penultimate race.

The Trappist reception which greeted the winner of the Park Stakes, Almushtarak, suggested if anyone had backed him at 25-1 they did not do so in the South Yorkshire area. The winner was a third success for the Kuwaiti, Kamil Mahdi, who received a right royal British reception at his Newmarket yard earlier this year when he was held up at gunpoint. However, they are obviously a forgiving lot in Kuwait. "I love racing in this country," Mahdi said, "for me it is the best place to train.''