Racing: Classic win is a first for Gosden: Tim Glover reports from The Curragh

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The Independent Online
THE RACE was one mile and six furlongs and at the line one saturated but elegant neck set the winner apart. Mashaallah won the Irish St Leger by a matter of a few feet in a deadly finish with Snurge.

Success breeds success. Mashaallah has some of Nijinsky's blood in him. He was bred in America, ridden by an American, owned by a Sheikh and trained by John Gosden in England. It was Gosden's first Classic winner. Mashaallah began the season as a handicapper and has gone from strength to strength winning at Newmarket, Longchamp, Milan and Baden-Baden. He qualifies for a free flight as a frequent flyer.

They came to The Curragh for the crack. What they witnessed was Steve Cauthen, on the 11-4 favourite, giving Mashaallah a dozen cracks of the whip to remind his charge to keep his head in front of the persistent Snurge.

The going was described as soft. The race was as hard as nails. With pounds 84,600 on the line, Cauthen took the whip hand. Drum Taps was third by less than a length, completing an English 1-2-3.

The Curragh, on the outskirts of Dublin, bears the legend: 'Home of the Classics'. It produced a classic finish in the big race and there were other signs like the one outside the weighing room: 'Jockeys must proceed to the parade ring by the shortest route and are forbidden to engage in conversation on the way.' Jockeys, of all people, do not need instructions in finding the shortest route. Certainly not Cauthen or Lester Piggott.

Piggott celebrated a vintage reunion with Vincent O'Brien. In the National Stakes Piggott, with a gambler's timing, won on O'Brien's Fatherland by half a length from Maroof after making his run in the last of the seven furlongs.

The withdrawal of Michelozzo deprived Piggott of a ride in the Irish St Leger. Instead he sat in the dilapidated press room. He perched himself on a table in the corner, his left leg resting on the surface, his right dangling a couple of feet above the floor. Piggott watched the St Leger on television and the climax to the race induced a warm smile from old stone face.

Today Dublin turns its attention to the All Ireland Gaelic Football final at Croke Park. Yesterday two stand tickets went for pounds 1,700. At least the people of the fair city will have no English winners to worry about there.

Greg Wood's tips for the Festival of Racing at Ascot on 26 September:

Second Set (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes); Prince Ferdinand (Diadem Stakes); Tenby (Royal Lodge Stakes); Love Of Silver (Fillies' Mile).

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