Racing: Dushyantor can complete Eddery's renaissance

ST LEGER: The season's final Classic sees the 10-times champion jockey aboard a colt with the pace to prove critics wrong; Richard Edmondson believes the favourite can justify his trainer's faith
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When Pat Eddery lost his retainer with Khalid Abdullah two years ago there were some who could hear the strains of the last post on his racing career. The music in the Irishman's ears, however, was rather more upbeat. As the leaves begin to tumble there are no signs that Eddery has shed any of his ability and, at the age of 44, he is poised to equal Lester Piggott's post-War record of 11 jockeys' championships. His confederates from the weighing room believe their leading figure remains at the peak of his powers.

Eddery himself detects little change in the effectiveness he has shown all over the world for over 25 years. He describes his riding as "normal". What is not normal however is the pleasure he still gets from proving himself as a top practitioner of his craft. "You can't win enough championships and I'm getting as big a buzz about possibly winning this one than I've ever done," he said yesterday.

Patrick James John Eddery, though, will have to effect another resurrection next season. When Kieren Fallon is given the keys to the stable jockey's cottage at Henry Cecil's yard he will at a stroke remove his fellow Irishman's greatest source of winners. Of Eddery's 152 successes this season, the largest slice has been provided by Cecil, for whom the jockey has a strike- rate of 34 per cent. The imminent divorce, it must be said, has not had Eddery pacing the corridors at night. "I've been freelance for the last couple of years and it hasn't worked out badly has it?" he said. "Next season might be a bit of a problem because I won't have the Warren Place horses but I'll still be out there giving my best. I'm not going anywhere because I believe there are still a lot of good years in me."

This afternoon's St Leger allows Eddery to continue his union with Cecil when he partners the favourite, Dushyantor. On the form book the little colt should prove the old adage that the fittest horse wins the 2,000 Guineas, the luckiest the Derby and the best the St Leger. DUSHYANTOR (nap 3.40) certainly had no good fortune at Epsom, where he finished strongly behind Shaamit, and has been labelled rather cruelly as an animal without the faculty for immediate acceleration. This is not a sentiment to be aired in Cecil's earshot. "People say he hasn't got a turn of foot but I think he has shown as much foot as anything," Cecil said. "It's always looked as if this extra two furlongs is just what he needs."

Much of Dushyantor's home preparation is conducted in the hands of Willie Ryan. After the colt's latest piece of work, the rider informed that his mount was in the best form of his life. This is not to say Dushyantor will stroll home this afternoon. He is not a horse who likes to make matters easy for himself and he also has some well qualified opponents to overcome, including Shantou, who finished a place behind him in the Derby. John Gosden, Shantou's trainer, would like to see a dam break near the racecourse. "Shantou is in very good form and won nicely at Windsor," he said yesterday. "He appreciated the soft ground that day and we would like them to leave the watering system here on all night.

"His chance will be compromised by this ground, however we're right there with Dushyantor on Derby form and he should run well. I think Gordi and Dushyantor are the dangers, and don't forget Mons."

It will be disappointing, however, if Gordi, who won the two-mile Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot, is not outspeeded by at least one of his rivals, while Mons has been beaten by quite a few of these already.

The main danger to Dushyantor then may be Sharaf Kabeer, who is part of an interesting sub-plot to the Classic as he represents the Godolphin operation duelling with Cecil at the peak of the trainers' championship.

Whatever the fate of his colt this afternoon, Saeed Bin Suroor asserts that Godolphin can give themselves a self-congratulatory pat. "We have only 40 horses, not 250 like other trainers, and have won Group Ones in Hong Kong and France," he said. "Some people were thinking we couldn't do it again after last season [when Godolphin collected the Derby, Oaks and St Leger] but we've done just as well."

It may be that the best horse in action today is not running in the Classic but rather over the water in the Irish Champion Stakes. The absence of Zagreb rips away the contest's billing as a meeting of the Derby winners, and Shaamit, the Epsom victor, must surely put this small field in its place if the three-year-old crop of 1996 is to have any credence at all.