Racing: Channon links with Celtic for Seazun success

Click to follow
The Independent Online
GODOLPHIN BLUE or Tabor orange are the colours most people expect to see in the winners' enclosure after a Group One race at Newmarket, not the green and white hoops of Celtic Football Club. Yet for a few minutes yesterday, a small piece of Glasgow arrived in East Anglia, as a filly called Seazun managed a rare victory against racing's version of the Old Firm in the Cheveley Park Stakes.

Between them, Sheikh Mohammed, his brothers, and Michael Tabor put so much money into British racing that no one, least of all at Newmarket, should grumble about the assiduous way they collect our major prizes. Just occasionally, though, it is refreshing to see a victory go to a smaller player, no matter how relative the description may be.

Seazun cost 60,000 guineas as a yearling, which is feed money for some of yesterday's opponents, and it is a sign of the times that she was bought not with oil money, but with cyber-cash. John Breslin, her owner, works for Intel in Hong Kong, although his silks are a reminder of his Glaswegian roots.

He is not averse, though, to sending a horse to a man who used to score goals against his countrymen. "He's a mad Celtic man, a real Jock through and through," Mick Channon, Seazun's trainer, said. "In the days when I was playing for England, he would have been calling that Channon a right so-and-so."

For Channon, this was a second Group One winner in Britain, but while Piccolo's success in the 1994 Nunthorpe Stakes came after a disqualification, Seazun's victory was down to nothing but honest toil. Racing head-to-head with Torgau, the Cherry Hinton Stakes winner, in a group in the middle of the course, she took control with a furlong to run and was not stopping at the line.

By contrast, the much-fancied French challenger Moon Driver, the 5-2 favourite, ran a desperate race, trailing the field by halfway before running on to finish ninth, while Criquette Head's Mall Queen was even further adrift in 11th.

Aidan O'Brien's Warrior Queen, meanwhile, was withdrawn after she was found to be lame at the start, which persuaded some that the form may be dubious. The feeling was reflected by Ladbrokes, who quote Seazun at 33-1 for next year's 1,000 Guineas, although it is hard to know what more she could do than beat the horses who gave their best on the day.

"This was always her target and that's her finished for the year," Channon said. "She'll get a mile no problem next year, and she'll probably go for the Fred Darling before the Guineas, because mine usually need a run."

Inchlonaig, too, may now go into winter quarters after a brief but very profitable two-year-old career. The Roger Charlton-trained colt was making his debut in the Houghton Sales Stakes, which Charlton has won three times in six years. The race is confined to graduates of the Houghton Sale and carries a series of large bonuses, but there was no hint of inexperience as he swept through to beat Bedazzling.

In doing so, he earned his owner pounds 166,850, which just about covered the 130,000 guineas he cost in the first place. "He's a horse to look after and race next year rather than next year," Charlton said. "He's not a natural two-year-old type. Nashwans improve, and he should stay well. He worked moderately on Saturday and I certainly didn't think he could win a race like this. It's encouraging that he could do it, and as he's bred to stay further, he must have a future."

There were no surprising absentees when 23 horses were declared yesterday for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Sunday, although one significant entry may not make it to post at Longchamp. Dream Well, last year's French and Irish Derby winner, has an alternative engagement in the Turf Classic at Belmont on 9 October.

British trainers could saddle six runners, including Leggera, from John Dunlop's yard, who was second to Sagamix last year. Of course, if one of Godolphin's three Newmarket-based entries, Daylami, High-Rise and Lord Of Men, takes the prize, it will doubtless be marked down as a moral victory for the Brits.

Daryaba, the Prix Vermeille winner, and Japan's El Condor Pasa are also on course for the race, while Aidan O'Brien's Genghis Khan will be the only runner from Ireland. The German-trained Tiger Hill, third last year, is also among the entries.

n Kendal Cavalier, last season's Welsh National winner, has rejoined Toby Balding's yard with the Grand National as his target. The nine-year- old started his jumping career with Balding before switching to Rod Millman's stables and then moving to Nigel Hawke just before his Chepstow triumph.