Racing: Castle collects for Cole

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The Independent Online
It was a case of Cole's to Newcastle in the Northumberland Plate yesterday, where, in atrocious conditions, Windsor Castle, trained by Paul Cole, became only the third three-year-old this century to take the valuable two-mile handicap after he and Sweetness Herself fought out a finish that was a testament to the gallantry of the thoroughbred.

Sweetness Herself, with the 3lb claimer Mark Baird on board, was shouldering 9st 7lb, of which two stone would have been deadweight lead in the saddle- pockets, and Windsor Castle's burden of 8st 10lb included an 8lb penalty for his narrow Queen's Vase win at Royal Ascot ten days previously.

Eighteen hours of rain had turned Gosforth Park into a quagmire, and the jockeys' colours were barely visible as Sweetness Herself led the pack into the final straight. Richard Quinn bided his time on Windsor Castle for three-quarters of the race, even when the gutsy four-year-old filly, who ran one of Germany's top stayers, Camp David, close at Baden Baden last month, opened up a useful-looking lead.

But in the final furlong Windsor Castle, a strong, powerful colt, detached himself from the pack and wore her down by a length. Quinn said: "Everything went exactly to plan. The horse handled the going well and I was always confident that we would hit the front in time."

Windsor Castle, who carries the dark green colours of Fahd Salman, was friendless in the betting, having opened as a 4-1 chance in the ante-post on Tuesday but drifted to 10-1 yesterday. The well-backed favourite for the pounds 72,546 prize was Top Cees at 5-2, who flattered briefly on the outside at the top of the straight. It was left to the outsider Onefourseven to battle on for third, in front of Siege Perilous, but the race only concerned the front two.

Better-class races now beckon for Windsor Castle, who has been transformed by the application of blinkers and is clearly a most progressive young stayer. The Generous colt has a fair act to follow; the Northumberland Plate was won last year by the Gold Cup hero Celeric.

Cole followed up quickly here at Newmarket as Frankie Dettori brought Lady In Waiting with a well-timed run to cut down Land of Dreams inside the final furlong of the Ladbroke Empress Stakes. The race, for two-year- old fillies, went last year to a smart performer in Moonlight Paradise, and half an hour later bay colt The Glow-Worm - a rare non-grey runner for Catherine Corbett - followed in the hoofprints of a better one, Benny The Dip, by taking the Kris Maiden Stakes.

Though those at Wimbledon may not agree, its an ill rain-laden wind that blows nobody good. The one essential for Hamdan Al Maktoum's grand servant Kutta is soft ground and God's decision to keep the sprinklers turned on all week brought a smile to the face of Robert Armstrong, for one. The Newmarket-based trainer scrapped plans to send the five-year-old to Ireland today in favour of the Fred Archer Stakes about a mile down the road, and Kutta showed his appreciation for the underfoot conditions as he drew steadily clear in the last quarter-mile to beat Harbour Dues an easy four lengths.

Armstrong said: "He's very consistent in good company, and was unlucky behind Celeric in the Yorkshire Cup. But he must have his ground, and this is about the first time this year he has."

Timing is everything with Ramooz, and Willie Ryan's was inch-perfect at the end of the Van Geest Criterion Stakes. He held the four-year-old of the early pace, wriggled him through a gap on to the rails a furlong out, and had his handsome head in front right on the line in a finish of heads and necks with Almushtarak, Wind Cheetah and My Branch, in that order.

The durable, high-class filly Dance Design landed the odds in the day's Pattern race, the Group Two Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh, and this afternoon at the track there is a strong cast supporting the Irish Derby stars. Those bold enough to have invested on King Of Kings for next year's 2,000 Guineas have their second chance to see the two-year-old wonder, who had little more than an exercise canter to win on his debut over the course and distance last month, in the Railway Stakes.

The Aidan O'Brien-trained son of Sadler's Wells, whose five rivals include three from his own stable, will be long odds-on and should stay unbeaten which will, unfortunately, allow the hype merchants full rein.

A predominantly British field lines up for the International Stakes - O'Brien's Crown Regent is the only local - which features the consolation re-match between Alhaarth and London News, second and third behind Bosra Sham at Royal Ascot.