Racing: Cliche heads British sweep

GREG WOOD

Anyone who tried to get a few words from Lanfranco Dettori as he left Windsor racecourse on Saturday night could have been forgiven for thinking that the Italian was off to a fancy dress party, and had decided to go as Lester Piggott.

Normally a high-octane quote machine, Dettori preferred not to comment about a day which, though it included a couple of winners by the Thames, also involved two disqualifications and a five-day suspension incurred at Goodwood.

For John Gosden, the trainer who retains him, meanwhile, an end to a period of gloom may be in sight. Dettori's second winner on Saturday evening was King Sound in the Harefield Stakes, the race which Gosden used to prepare Shantou for his win in the St Leger 12 months ago.

"Frankie is not feeling too happy and does not want to talk about the Goodwood affair," Nicky Vaughan, Gosden's travelling head lad, said (Dettori has until tomorrow to appeal against the suspension). King Sound has taken time to come to hand but he is entered for the Leger and he could go to the Classic.

"We took some fancied top-of-the-ground horses up to York but the ground was too dead for them, and the Goodwood business [both of Dettori's disqualified "winners" were trained by Gosden] has just about put the tin hat on it."

For the Godolphin organisation the renaissance after a poor start to the season continues. Classic Cliche, their Leger winner two seasons ago, won the Prix Kergorlay at Deauville yesterday, part of a clean sweep of the race for British-based yards with Orchestra Stall (John Dunlop) and Chief Contender (Peter Chapple-Hyam) second and third.

The French kept the big race of the day, the Prix Morny, at home, however, although the winner was a little unexpected. Xaar, trained by Andre Fabre, started the hot favourite, but was narrowly beaten into second by Charge D'Affaires, trained by Alain du Royer-Dupre. Aidan O'Brien's Heeremandi was third, with Desert Prince, from David Loder's Newmarket yard, only fifth.

A listed handicap is as high as the quality threshold goes today, but for anyone seeking a diversion on a Bank Holiday afternoon, quantity is often more important.

This fact has been recognised by Channel 4, which brings us their version of the old ITV 7 from Epsom and Newcastle (and we will not embarrass anyone by pointing out that several of the presenters from the 1970s are still going strong).

The feature event at Epsom is the Moet & Chandon Silver Magnum, the "amateurs' Derby" in which the skill of the jockeys often has much more to do with the result than the ability of their mounts.

Lord Huntingdon, who won the race for the Queen 12 months ago, saddles Shaft Of Light, who now seems best at two miles or more. Any attempt to gallop his rivals into the ground could play into the hands of Casual Water (next best 3.10). Tony Newcombe's runner needs a fast pace, and should go well for the excellent Robert Thornton.

In the five-furlong sprint, LADY SHERIFF (nap 3.10) is impossible to oppose from her draw on the stands rail, not least since Gaelic Storm, her most obvious rival, has a nasty habit of missing the break, which generally proves fatal on this lightning-fast track.

Iron Mountain (2.05) has clearly been trained with nurseries in mind and is weighted to go close.

At Newcastle, Safio (2.20) could offer some value against Epic Stand, who is improving but drops back in trip, and Woodbeck (3.25) must also go well. The Blaydon Nursery, worth pounds 40,000, was won last year by subsequent Derby runner The Fly, but with at least a dozen promising juveniles in the field, this is not a race for sensible punters.

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