Pilsudski quells the queen

Eclipse Stakes: Turf hero steals the showdown from Bosra Sham and Benny The Dip
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The Independent Online
They came to see a queen crowned, but witnessed a dethroning. Pilsudski took the 100th running of the Eclipse Stakes here yesterday by a length and a quarter from the Derby winner Benny The Dip, with the odds-on favourite Bosra Sham only third and it must be said that tactics, good and bad, won and lost the day.

The team behind the winner, led by trainer Michael Stoute, thought the race out thoroughly beforehand, and reaped the pounds 114,872 reward. Bosra Sham's back-up squad may well have done so, but a moment of misjudgement by the jockey Kieren Fallon early in the straight put paid to the chestnut filly's chances.

It was always on the cards that Benny The Dip would try to win from the front, relying on the burst of speed on the run for home that brought him victory at Epsom. With Willie Ryan having set only a moderate pace he duly led his four rivals round the final bend, shadowed by Pilsudski and the canny Michael Kinane, with Bosra Sham travelling comfortably enough in third on his inside.

Three furlongs out, at the point the course widens, Fallon tried to grab the pitch on the rails inside Ryan, but Bosra Sham could not quicken through the gap off the slow pace and Ryan, quite correctly and legitimately, shut it firmly in her face and forced Fallon to check and switch direction. Meanwhile Pilsudski had set sail up the hill and Bosra Sham, her momentum gone, was left flat-footed.

The legion of supporters who had backed her down to 4-7 tried to howl her home, and although she did close up the hill and was probably beaten by less ground than she lost, the final ignominy was to be worried out of second place by the gallant Benny The Dip on the line.

And if Fallon, in his first season as first jockey to Henry Cecil's powerful Newmarket team, still lacks in big-race experience, no trainer could wish for a better man on his side when the chips are down than Kinane.

The Irishman said: "The plan was to keep very close to Benny The Dip, who we knew would try to make all, and be ready to kick. When Willie Ryan quickened, so did we and we were travelling the better when I committed my chap. Pilsudski was fit, hard and ready for a fight."

Bosra Sham's defeat, which leaves Pebbles and Kooyonga as still the only two fillies to have won Sandown's midsummer showpiece, should take nothing away from Lord Weinstock's Pilsudski, a horse of the highest class and, as a five-year-old, in his magnificent prime as an equine athlete.

The winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf at Woodbine in Canada last November - in which he beat subsequent Japan Cup, Dubai World Cup and Coronation Cup hero Singspiel - the big, imposing bay was primed for the moment after a narrow defeat by Predappio in the Hardwicke Stakes over a mile and a half at Royal Ascot last month.

His trainer Michael Stoute said: "He's a big gross horse, and it takes a while to wind him up. He was thwarted by the very soft ground at Ascot, but it put him spot on. I have always had respect for Bosra Sham and will continue to have, but the old saying that you should never be frightened of one horse is quite true. I thought it was obvious beforehand how the race was going to pan out and we laid our plans accordingly."

The next possible race for Pilsudski, who has now won seven of his 17 starts, is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot later this month, but Stoute, who also has Singspiel entered, will delay any decision. He said: "We will give it a week before we think about going to Ascot, but after that an autumn campaign will be planned. He gets better as the season goes on."

A stunned Cecil left the unsaddling enclosure without comment. To rub salt in his wounds, Ryan is the number two jockey at Warren Place.

But John Gosden was delighted with Benny The Dip's performance and confirmed the International Stakes at York in August as the little near-black colt's next race. He said: "I thought he showed great courage to battle back for second place. It is always difficult for three-year-olds to beat older horses at this stage, but he turned in a solid performance and franked the Derby form."

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