Post haste for Iktamal

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The Independent Online
Iktamal, carrying the second colours of Maktoum Al Maktoum, broke the six-furlong course record as he gave young trainer Ed Dunlop the second Group One win of his career with victory in yesterday's Haydock Sprint Cup. Newmarket-based Dunlop was not at the Lancashire course to witness the four-year-old's triumph - he is eyeing up future talent at the Kentucky yearling sales - but will have little to complain about when he reviews the video.

Willie Ryan gave Iktamal an inch-perfect ride to land the pounds 77,250 first prize. The big chestnut can be tricky to handle, but the race went to suit him as the Maktoum first string, Royal Applause, and Hever Golf Rose blazed off in front. Little Blue Duster, back to her best form, kept up the gallop as she took over in front a furlong out but had no response as Ryan pounced between the gallant filly and the rails 10 strides from the post to win by a length.

The Irish outsider, Catch the Blues, took third place, just in front of Hever Golf Rose, Blue Duster's better-fancied stablemate Lucayan Prince, and Mind Games, who flattered until his stamina gave out. The French-trained favourite, Miesque's Son, was most disappointing, never able to get in a blow.

It was the seventh win from 20 starts for Iktamal, a son of Danzig Connection, but the first at the highest level. Last time out he had finished only fourth behind the sprint champion-elect Anabaa at Deauville, but the ground was soft that day. Ryan, whose only previous Group One victory came on King's Theatre in the Racing Post Trophy three years ago, said: "This is a much better horse on fast ground. He's done it very well - I was able to settle him, and when I asked him to go he picked up in an instant."

Dunlop, 27, whose Ta Rib took the French 1,000 Guineas earlier this year, was keeping the Sprint Cup in the family, his father John having won it two years ago with Lavinia Fontana.

Iktamal, who is likely to stay in training next year, and Blue Duster may clash again this season, as both have the Breeders' Cup Sprint next month in Toronto on their agenda. Joe Mercer, racing manager to the colt's owner, said: "This horse simply thrives on racing. He just gets better and better, and Ed has done a great job with him."

Ryan's fine effort notwithstanding, jockey of the day at Haydock was Pat Eddery, who notched a tremendous 10,984-1 five-timer on Primo Lara, Dacha, Besiege, Oggi and Embankment. He had to work hardest on two-year- old Besiege, who produced a gutsy staying performance, full of promise for the future, to take the mile St Annes Conditions Stakes. The rangy colt, a brother to Armiger, knuckled down really well under pressure to overhaul the leaders and then repel Sandstone by a head, breaking the juvenile course record in the process.

At Kempton the September Stakes provided a tremendous last-furlong battle between four genuine older horses. Less than a length separated Sacrament, Salmon Ladder, Ela-Aristokrati and Cezanne at the line; the winner, ridden by Walter Swinburn, now tackles the Irish St Leger.