Racing: Dettori finds a new song in Lochangel

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The Independent Online
WHEN THE the management at York next decide to name a bar or grandstand after a significant figure in the course's history, they could do far worse than unveil a plaque to Peckitts Well. Hers is not, admittedly, a name which many of yesterday's racegoers would recognise, but thousands who have enjoyed and profited from the exploits of Lochsong and Lochangel are deeply indebted to her.

Though thoroughly modest on the racecourse, Peckitts Well has passed on a rich vein of talent to her offspring. Lochsong, of course, was a particular favourite at York, winning the Nunthorpe Stakes five years ago. Few would have dared hope that her half-sister, Lochangel, might ever be her equal, but with her victory in the same race yesterday, Lochangel laid claim to a similar place in public affection.

Better still, she is owned, trained and ridden by the same people, the most important one of all from the punters' point of view being Frankie Dettori.

If asked to nominate a jockey to ride their horse in a vital race, a majority might prefer the uncompromising approach of Kieren Fallon, who has displaced Dettori as the champion jockey for the forseeable future. When it comes to enjoying a moment of emotional triumph, however, it often feels as if no-one but Dettori will do.

For all that he seems forever destined to trail Fallon numerically, Dettori is an immensely polished rider. As Sainte Marine skipped past the two- furlong pole in yesterday's race, with most of her pursuers struggling vainly to narrow the gap, a French victory seemed likely.

Dettori, though, had managed to contain Lochangel's own tearaway tendency, and now she quickened out of the pack. When the challenge came, Sainte Marine had nothing left with which to repel it.

The former champion felt it was going to be his day on the way to post. He said afterwards: "The way she came down, I thought, `This is good'."

Lochangel's achievements may now be starting to equal those of her half- sister, but there are differences between them too. "They're both super movers with devastating speed," Ian Balding, her trainer, said. "But Lochangel is an awful lot easier to train. I adored Lochsong but she was half crazy and not easy to train."

Balding, who also saddled the third-placed 50-1 chance Dashing Blue, believes soft ground will not blunt Lochangel's speed appreciably, which makes the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp, another race which also featured on Lochsong's cv, an ideal target. And who knows, she might yet return to the Knavesmire next year and win another Nunthorpe - something which even Lochsong could not manage.

The post-race celebrations in the grandstand were prolonged, Dettori- ridden 6-1 winners being something of a rarity in the big races.

In another sense, too, the race was fairly unique among Group One events in that not one of the 17 runners was prepared by the Godolphin operation. Since they have already collected almost twice as much as any other trainer in the country, however, they could afford to let this one go, and there had been a reminder a little earlier, too, of how dramatically the men from Dubai have altered the old assumptions of British racing.

Had Mick Channon sent out the winner of the Lowther Stakes 10 years ago, he would have retired to his Lambourn yard to plot a path with Newmarket, and the 1,000 Guineas next spring, at its end. Now, though, he realises that his association with Bint Allayl, who sprinted away with a strong renewal of the Lowther, is most unlikely to extend beyond the autumn, since the filly, who is owned by Sheikh Ahmed, will surely join the exodus to Dubai as soon as the nights start to draw in.

"You can't worry about things like that," Channon said afterwards, while also insisting that "she will stay a mile standing on her head." The best price you will find for the Guineas is 10-1 (from 16-1) with Hills, and skinny though it is, Bint Allayl's burst of acceleration was certainly that of an outstanding prospect.

While she may not win any Classic for Channon personally, meanwhile, her victory, along with that of Josr Algarhoud in the same colours in Wednesday's Gimcrack, will have secured his place in the Maktoum family's training retinue. And that is certainly a prize worth having.