Racing: Cecil goes distance

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The Independent Online
JULIE CECIL struck the first blow for Britain on Arc weekend here yesterday when Alderbrook ran out a game winner of the Group Two Prix Dollar. It was the second leg of a quick- fire long-range double for the Newmarket trainer; 10 minutes earlier her Dark Den had won the Free Handicap Hurdle at Chepstow.

Alderbrook has done nothing but improve all season, and if the ground comes up soft at Newmarket in two weeks' time he will take his chance in the Champion Stakes. 'Not bad for a horse whose first win was in a claimer,' said Mrs Cecil, adding, 'and no-one claimed him]'

Alderbrook, owned by Ernie Pick, was the second winner from three French runners for Mrs Cecil, and Paul Eddery's first winner at Longchamp. He took over in the straight as the early leader Mistle Cat faded, and had enough in reserve under strong driving to hold the fast-finishing favourite Volonchine by a length. Alderbrook paid just under 4-1 on the tote.

In the Prix de Royallieu over the Arc course, the Luca Cumani-trained Noble Rose made a valiant effort to catch all-the-way winner Dalara, but failed by three-quarters of a length. The winner was carrying the Aga Khan's second colours; his first choice, John Oxx's Rayseka, faded badly after showing prominently into the straight. The outsider Sunrise Song stayed on well to hold Royal Ballerina for third.

Richard Quinn drove Paul Cole's Montjoy into the lead two furlongs out in the Grand Criterium but the colt could not quicken in the closing stages. Goldmark and Walk On Mix gave Andre Fabre a one-two in the Group 1 mile test for two- year-olds, with Montjoy two and a half lengths behind the winner. Fabre sees Sheikh Mohammed's Lyphard colt as a Derby type; his Guineas hope is Pennekamp, who will go to Newmarket for the Dewhurst.

Lady Herries' Safety In Numbers ran a brave race in the Prix du Cadran, but found two too good for him, the filly Molesnes and Always Earnest.

Jockeys reported little life in the Longchamp pitch; the going is good, but dead. The best- backed horse yesterday was White Muzzle, 5-1 clear favourite for the Arc by the end of the day with Ladbrokes, with Celtic Arms (20-1 to 16-1) and Lando (40-1 to 25-1) the best- supported outsiders.

There was a French flavour at Newmarket; Sheikh Mohammed's Sun Chariot winner La Confederation was transferred to David Loder from Fabre last month so she could benefit from Monty Roberts' methods of curing her stalls phobia.

Twenty minutes after the Grand Criterium, the famous maroon and white colours went in again when the 8-1 co- favourite Halling won the Cambridgeshire.