Racing: Dream run for Sleepytime

Forget the early-morning call and a flask of coffee for the gallops, and forget hours at the table deciphering the form book. The best system to pinpoint early Classic winners this season was to take a half of lager in the snugs of Newmarket and keep your ears open. Following Entrepreneur's success in the 2,000 Guineas on Saturday, the other great talking horse of racing's capital, Sleepytime, collected the fillies' equivalent yesterday. Anyone who has missed hearing their names at Headquarters this spring has been wearing their balaclava too tight.

Sleepytime's victory was a fifth 1,000 Guineas for Henry Cecil, who may soon be receiving a visit from the Monopolies' Commission as this was his third consecutive fillies' Classic following the exploits of Bosra Sham and Lady Carla last season. It was the first win at this level though for the union of the Warren Place trainer and his new stable jockey, Kieren Fallon.

Sleepyime's ground-devouring exercises on the gallops had made her the winter favourite for the Guineas, but as the buds came out so did her detractors. Firstly, illness changed the filly's yard into something of an Alpine sanatorium and then Sleepytime was a boxed-in failure on her reappearance at Newbury. As she had suffered a similar fate on her final outing last season and appeared to have been in more pockets than an old fiver, market confidence began to wane.

It was not a sensation mirrored at Warren Place. "Everthing has gone against her but we know how good she is and she proved it today," Cecil said. "When you know the animal it is sometimes easier to keep your faith in them than people."

In the parade Sleepytime looked so bony and tall you could imagine her nibbling shoots on a tree. In the race, she was planted behind a forest of horses and razors were being sharpened on the strop for Fallon. The Irishman refused any rash option and eventually the door creaked open. "I got that split and she did it in half a dozen strides," he said.

Sleepytime's avenue developed between Oh Nellie, the 50-1 shot, and Dazzle, and once a giraffe stride took her to the front it seemed no burden to put four lengths between herself and the pack. The favourite, Pas De Reponse, ran out of puff at this distance and had to settle for fourth.

In the winners' enclosure, Cecil was more pleased for his jockey than himself. Kieren Fallon seems a benign young man with a voice that starts in his riding boots, but this image is accompanied by one of the worst disciplinary records in racing.

This was doubtlessly pointed out to Cecil as he conducted his stable- jockey interviews and there was a degree of justification in his post- race comments yesterday. "Kieren is a very hard worker," he said. "He's shown today that he is a Group One jockey, which is all we need."

The omission from the celebrations was Charles H Wacker III, the figurehead behind the winning ownership of Greenbay Stables. Cecil spoke by mobile phone to the winning owner at his property in Spain. It is safe to assume that abode is not a beach hut, as there have not been many impoverished Charles H Wackers since the family established a machine-tools business serving the automobile industry. The Wacker Boulevard in Chicago is named after the III's grandfather. The Newmarket Classics of 1997 have gone to names that have been on the streets of Headquarters since this time last year.

Comments