Racing: Albadou is upstaged by Piggott

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The Independent Online
WITH DIRECTION borrowed from another time, Lester Piggott won his 10th July Cup here yesterday on a horse named after a director, Mr Brooks.

This was a success fashioned in the style of another film man, however, as Piggott and the son of Blazing Saddles kept observers in suspense until pouncing close home for a head win.

About 300 yards out yesterday Piggott was last, while a jockey ahead of him was prepared to back his chances at the expense of his last breath. Walter Swinburn, on the Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Sheikh Albadou, was travelling with a fluency which prompted him to tell the colt's trainer, Alex Scott, later: 'If I could have had a bet a furlong and a half out I would have had my life on it.'

Seconds later, though, Sheikh Albadou was emitting far less favourable signals as Mr Brooks, who was last in Quest For Fame's Derby two years ago, swept through to the astonishment of all but his 56-year-old partner. 'He was hanging a bit on the ground and I gave him a chance to find his legs,' Piggott said. 'But I was always on their heels and knew he would pick up when I asked.'

That Richard Hannon should be the successful trainer here had been envisaged by many, but the anticipated winner was Shalford, who has always been considered Mr Brooks's superior. 'On their home work you just couldn't put them together,' Hannon said.

Shalford, though, looked a forlorn creature from the moment he stepped lazily into the parade ring and circled the arena in a cowering manner. Hannon felt on first contact that this was unlikely to be the colt's day. 'When I put the saddle on him he just felt like a dead horse,' he said.

Michael Roberts, Shalford's rider, got no more encouragement during the race. 'Going into the dip his ears were flat and it was clear he wasn't enjoying the ground,' he said.

Mr Brooks has been on soft ground for most of his career, having been with the Irish trainers Kevin Connolly and then Jim Bolger until this May. Paul Green, the horse's owner and the man who also pays Carvill's Hill's bills, decided to move the five-year-old to the more rewarding pastures of Britain's racecourses after victory in an pounds 8,000 race at Tipperary two months ago. He has come a long way since then, earning over pounds 70,000 for his efforts yesterday.

Mr Brooks's next assignment is likely to be the Haydock Park Sprint Cup, while another of yesterday's winners, Rain Rider, may be a contender for the St Leger following his success in the Bahrain Trophy.

This race was notable for the early departure of Steve Cauthen, who came back to the stands thanks to the horsepower contained under a bonnet after Goldsmiths' Hall unseated him on leaving the stalls.

On his return, Cauthen spoke of the challenges facing jockeys in an effort to keep mind and body going over the rolling seasons. 'At the end of 1987 when I was fighting Pat (Eddery) for the title, I was cooked and it took me three months to get over it,' he said. 'These days I make sure I'm right for the big races and I'm not going to kill myself going for the championship.'

While enough hyperbole has been produced about Lester Piggott to fuel Phileas Fogg's journeys, his hunger and capacity for competition can never be overstated. Thirty five years after winning his first July Cup on Vigo, the jockey could see no end yesterday. 'I've still got a bit left,' he said.

(Photograph omitted)

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