Racing: Eddery overtakes Piggott's milestone

RICHARD EDMONDSON Nap: Java Shrine (Lingfield 11.35) NB: Fanfaron (Market Rasen 2.35)
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The Independent Online
STAYING CHASERS are usually the only horses worth worrying about in the week leading up to the Hennessy Gold Cup, but not yesterday, when a two-year-old filly emerged from the gloom at Southwell to write a footnote into the history books. It was only a seller, with less than pounds 2,000 to the winner, but Sirene was carrying Pat Eddery to a century of winners for the 26th time in the last 27 years, and even Lester Piggott never managed that.

Piggott, of course, did not have all-weather tracks to ride on either. Had it not been for a long lay-off in the middle of the turf season following a fall in Austria, though, Eddery would have reached three figures long before yesterday. As it was, he finished the regular Flat campaign on 95, and was forced to look to the all-weather for the five extra winners he required to beat Piggott's lifetime total of 25 centuries.

Eddery first reached three figures in 1973, in his second full season as a senior rider. He has done so every year since, with the exception of 1982 when he rode in Ireland every Saturday. This did have its compensations. He finished the season as the Irish champion jockey.

There have been 11 British championships too in Eddery's extended career. The widening opportunities mean a century of winners is now seen as a matter of course for most senior Flat jockeys, but his total of 26 centuries is likely to remain a British record for many years, and at 47 there is no reason why he should not add more to his total in the seasons ahead.

"I knew quite early in the season about Lester's record," Eddery said afterwards, "but I got quite a bad fall in the summer and that held me up a bit. There's no real pressure when you get close, but there could have been had it dragged on."

Eddery was so keen to reach the milestone, however, that his enthusiasm got the better of him in the final furlong. The stewards decided that Eddery had used his whip excessively on Sirene, a 14-1 shot, and banned him for two days (10 and 11 December). "I wanted to keep the filly going as she was idling in front," Eddery said. ''But the stewards felt that I had breached the rules."

Eddery also picked up a five-day ban at Wolverhampton on Saturday, but he will continue to ride on the sand until Friday of this week. He will then leave for Hong Kong, where he is due to partner Silver Patriarch in the Hong Kong International Vase on 12 December.

Seventeen entries remain for the Hennessy at Newbury on Saturday, following the five-day stage yesterday, but each-way backers may not get the 16 runners they will be hoping for on race day. Rain is forecast but, if it does not arrive in quantity, Young Kenny and Step On Eyre are unlikely to take their chance.

One who seems certain to run, though, is Tullymurry Toff, who went down by a short-head to The Last Fling, another Hennessy entry, in the Edward Hanmer Chase at Haydock earlier this month.

"I wouldn't be bothered if it rains or it doesn't," Malcolm Jefferson, his trainer, said yesterday. "I would have loved to have won at Haydock, but I wasn't disappointed. He missed the last, but he didn't stop all the way to the line, and the time was just outside the course record as well, which says a lot. I was very proud of him, and we were a long way clear of the rest."

Tullymurry Toff is one of eight Hennessy entries who will race from out of the handicap unless Suny Bay, who heads the weights on 11st 10lb, comes out at the overnight stage. Nonetheless, on the evidence of his two wins and a second place from three starts this year, he is still on a handy handicap mark.

"It would be a big advantage if Suny Bay didn't run, but I couldn't be happier with him. He's come on with each race and he's going there with a great chance." Jefferson said. "I would think there are much worse 11- 1 chances in the race."


1973 119

1974 148

1975 164

1976 162

1977 176

1978 148

1979 123

1980 130

1981 109

1982 83

1983 122

1984 107

1985 162

1986 176

1987 195

1988 183

1989 171

1990 209

1991 165

1992 178

1993 169

1994 154

1995 125

1996 186

1997 116

1998 104

1999 100

and counting