Racing: Epistolaire fires Jarnet and France

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The Independent Online
AS ONE of the best horsemen in Britain is forced to give best to physical problems, one of France's finest bounces back. Walter Swinburn announced on Saturday that he has once again given up his battle with the scales pro tem, but yesterday Thierry Jarnet returned to the big-time in the Grand Prix de Deauville.

Jockeys have always been notorious for shrugging off injury and privation in their efforts to stay in the saddle and Swinburn himself returned from what was almost the dead after a fall in Hong Kong two years ago.

Jarnet, 31, the habitual French champion until the coming of Olivier Peslier, was more or less squashed flat in an horrific accident at Saint- Cloud in April, when a horse flipped over and rolled on him in the paddock. He suffered eight different fractures, including ribs, three vertebrae and his left knee; a similar incident the previous summer cost him part of his spleen and a fifth jockeys' title.

Yesterday's victory on the Andre Fabre-trained three-year-old Epistolaire was his first at Pattern level since his return to action earlier in the month and was a vintage display. Jarnet, as cool and stylish as ever, kept the son of Alzao at the back before pouncing from last to first off a slow pace to score by a cosy half-length from the colt's year-older stablemate, Sibling Rival.

Epistolaire, owned by Edouard de Rothschild, is not likely to run in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, but his win did not diminish the stature of France's main hope for the big Paris race, Dream Well, whom he chased home at Longchamp in May.

Damon Hill fared better in his Grand Prix yesterday than his equine compatriots at Deauville. Best of the Brits in the Group Two contest was the 1996 winner Strategic Choice, an honest, if outpaced, three-quarter length third for Paul Cole, just in front of Dark Moondancer and Fruits Of Love.

But the seaside season has largely been a lean one for the home side, which took only five of the 15 Group races on offer. The Rest Of The World scores read Japan 2, Ireland 2, Italy 1 and, as the buckets and spades were finally packed up yesterday, Britain 5 courtesy of the David Loder- trained two-year-old Kareymah in the Prix du Calvados and Richard Hannon's sprinter Andreyev in the Prix de Meautry.

Kareymah, a daughter of Zafonic, made just about every yard in the seven- furlong Group Three contest and quickened well under Frankie Dettori to take her unbeaten run to three and give her trainer his second juvenile winner in France in 24 hours, after the colt Sicnee on Saturday. Loder, who will be in charge of the Godolphin youth squad at Evry next season, is clearly taking every opportunity to become acclimatised, as he indicated that the Prix Marcel Boussac may be Kareymah's next stop.

Andreyev headed a British one-two in the Meautry, leading inside the last furlong to hold My Best Valentine by two and a half lengths. The winner's trainer, Richard Hannon, may step up two levels to the Group One Stanley Leisure Sprint at Haydock on Saturday - where he will meet, among others, the Nunthorpe Stakes flop Elnadim - before he, too, heads back across the Channel in October for the Prix de l'Abbaye.

Another who is due to turn out again soon is Almushtarak, a gallant second to the impressive all-the-way winner Muhtathir in Saturday's Celebration Mile. The consistent five-year-old is set to take in next Sunday's Prix du Moulin at Longchamp en route to a rematch with his Goodwood conqueror in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on 26 September.

More immediately, today's 63 races at 10 Bank Holiday meetings include Europe's richest juvenile handicap, the pounds 40,000 Newcastle Exhibition Ale Blaydon Nursery at Gosforth Park. The two that make most appeal in a strong field are the hat-trick seeking Hoh Steamer (3.15), whose form has radically improved since he was gelded, and the top weight, Red Delirium.

RICHARD EDMONDSON

Nap: Makebelieve Island

(Newcastle 3.15)

NB: Mondschien

(Newcastle 3.45)

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