Racing: Cape cheer as Smith takes Trophy's six-figure bonus: Small is valuable as Beverley trainer's sole juvenile fights off the favourite to give him the biggest success of a 40-year career

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The Independent Online
SMALL is rarely beautiful in racing, but there remain days for men like Alf Smith. The 70-year-old North Humberside trainer, who has just nine equine mouths to feed at his Beverley yard, enjoyed the biggest afternoon of his career yesterday when Cape Merino won Redcar's Two-Year-Old Trophy and pounds 190,000 in prize and bonus money.

'This is a great moment because I've been training for a very long time (since 1951) and, needless to say, this is by far the biggest success of my career,' he said. 'Cape Merino was for sale as a yearling and went through the ring at Doncaster, but nobody wanted her so I bought her back for 1,600gns.

'I've had this race as her target ever since the filly won at Doncaster on Lincoln day.' Few, however, had the filly in mind as the winner and she was sent off a 33-1 shot behind warm favourite Risky, who finished second.

Britain's more celebrated trainers were in evidence at Newmarket, where the main race was captured, under sufferance, by John Gosden's Catrail.

'Michael (Roberts, the winning jockey) said the horse was hating the ground even on the way down to the start,' the local trainer reported. 'He wasn't happy with him throughout the race and he barely got hold of the bit at any time. I think we've been very lucky to get away with it today.'

Fortunate, yes, in that Cash Asmussen, aboard Francois Boutin's Robin Des Pins, would have overhauled Catrail if the journey had been just a yard longer. The winner, who was decorated as gaily as a merry-go-round horse with fluorescent blue bandages on each of his legs, may now take his colourful form to California next month, when he is a possible runner in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita. He may be joined in that event by stablemate Wolfhound, while a third boarder at Stanley House, Muhtarram, is likely to be shipped to the United States even in he fails to show his best in tomorrow's Champion Stakes.

The winner of the Irish equivalent is thought unlikely to produce his best if the going remains soggy at Headquarters and excuses for him have already been produced. 'You can only expect to see the real Muhtarram on good to firm ground and so I am worried about Saturday,' Gosden said. 'But even if he runs below par we will look at the Breeders' Cup because I can see coming off that hill at Santa Anita on firm ground being right up his alley.'

Guarded recommendation was also available from Willie Jarvis, whose Grand Lodge will be favourite for today's Dewhurst Stakes. 'It's a big step to Group One company from his last win (in the Listed Somerville Tattersall Stakes) so we can only be hopeful,' he said. 'I've been very pleased with him since Newmarket, his appetite is right, his coat looks good and he's been working well. The ground might be a problem, but at the same time it might inconvenience others more than it inconveniences us. I think this horse is the best we've ever had.'

Michael Roberts was the best man among the riders last season, and there was further proof that he may have been ejected prematurely from the post as Sheikh Mohammed's retained jockey when he completed a four-timer yesterday. At the other end of the spectrum, Ray Cochrane was suspended for four days for careless riding after Shintillo had taken a course in the seven-furlong handicap which reminded of a car with a blown tyre.

There was an example at Newmarket too that resources do not guarantee success when Simon Sherwood collected the opening race with the 50-1 shot Derab. The East Ilsley trainer, who won the 1989 Gold Cup as a jockey on Desert Orchid, was clearly not anticipating his first victory on the Flat as he stayed at his Berkshire stables to do the paperwork.

(Photograph omitted)

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