Darley was riding for the first time since 17 October, when a fall in Madrid snapped his collar-bone. He had equalled Hide's record the previous day, but lost a winner during his convalescence when River North, successful at Brighton on 8 April, was disqualified for failing a post-race dope test. After drawing level for the second time on Sense Of Priority, Darley sportingly commented that he would be happy with a share of the record, but he still had one ride to come. An impeccable display in the Tulip Handicap got Second Colours home by a short head, and the outright record was his.
'I would have liked to have beaten the record on turf,' Darley said, 'but I am happy to have done it on the all-weather. And to be fair I did miss the last three weeks on the grass. When the injury took a long time to heal I was going to call it a day for the year, but my agent, Nick Babington, who has done a fantastic job, persuaded me to come back. I will ride at Lingfield on Saturday and back here next Wednesday, then I might say that is it.'
An immediate holiday was the last thing Norman Williamson wanted, but the Jockey Club's Disciplinary Committee yesterday decided that he used his whip from above shoulder height, and with unreasonable force, on Chiappucci at Windsor on 13 November, and suspended him for four days, from 26-29 November.
Williamson will therefore miss the Hennessy Gold Cup on Saturday, in which he was due to partner the potent Irish challenger, Cahervillahow. Adrian Maguire will now get the leg-up from Mouse Morris, who almost alone among trainers will welcome the possibility of fast ground at Newbury.
Just 10 horses were declared for the Hennessy on Monday, and Whispering Steel, the ante-post favourite, Royal Athlete, Rolling Ball and Zeta's Lad may all be withdrawn if the going on Saturday is faster than good. 'There is no frost in the ground but it's very cold,' Richard Pridham, the clerk of the course, said yesterday. 'The going is firming up and by Thursday I would say it will be good to firm.'
Cahervillahow was cut to 7-1 from 8-1 with Hills as this news sank in, while Zeta's Lad drifted to 8-1 from 13-2. Black Humour is the firm's 3-1 favourite, with Rolling Ball and Whispering Steel on 7-2 and Royal Athlete on 11-2.
Travado is likely to contest the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on 4 December after his convincing defeat of Deep Sensation, the champion two-mile chaser, in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon yesterday. The runner-up may take him on once again, but his effort after the last fence was minimal and his enthusiasm may be on the wane.