Racing: Fallon's dream ride

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The Independent Online
Kieren Fallon, the odds-on favourite to be the leading jockey at Royal Ascot this week, warmed up for the task by landing the gamble of the day on Dreams End at York yesterday. The versatile nine-year-old, a smart hurdles performer, was backed from 13-2 in the morning down to 3-1 favourite for The Cadogan Silver Salver Handicap and obliged by a length and three-quarters, though he gave his supporters a few anxious moments en route to victory.

At half-way in the nine-furlongs contest Dreams End had only one of his 15 rivals behind him and appeared to be going up and down on the spot, but gradually began to pick up his bridle in the straight and a quarter of a mile out was closing inexorably on the leaders. He picked off the last of them, Eurobox Boy, with 150 yards to run and Fallon even had the luxury of a look over his shoulder before the line.

The winning trainer Peter Bowen, based near Haverfordwest, does exceptionally well with his small string, and has worked wonders in maintaining the enthusiasm of Dreams End, who is still an entire. And to complete a good day's work his stablemate Stately Home, who won a record ten novice chases during the recently ended 1996-97 jump season, started the new campaign with a victory at Market Rasen.

"Peter doesn't seem to do anything different to other trainers but he's meticulous in everything he does," said Dreams End's delighted owner Geraint Price. The bonny chestnut may have earned a trip to Royal Ascot on Wednesday for the Royal Hunt Cup, for which William Hill have halved his price to 25-1. A 7lb penalty for yesterday's win will take his weight to 8st 1lb, and Price said: "We might just go for it, as we'd love to have a day out at Ascot. We'll be on the lookout for a good strong lightweight jockey to ride him."

Fallon had to be content with second place in the afternoon's feature race, the pounds 35,109 six furlongs William Hill Trophy Handicap, in which favourite backers were also out of luck when their 9-4 choice, Yorkie George, could finish only fifth.

But if ever justice was done, it was here. In last year's running the apprentice Paul Fessey was seriously injured in a fall, but this time round came back in triumph as he pushed the bottom weight Return Of Amin, an 11-1 shot, to a neck victory from the fast-finishing Double Action.

John Reid celebrated being appointed MBE yesterday with a double on Premier Bay in the Daniel Prenn Royal Yorkshire Rated Handicap and Illusion in the last. Premier Bay responded well to the first-time blinkers to outbattle Union Town.

Last year's Gold Cup winner Classic Cliche satisfied in his work at Newmarket yesterday morning, but no decision has yet been made about his bid for a repeat on Thursday. On his best form the five-year-old would have an excellent chance of the double but, like most of his stablemates, has been under a cloud this season.

The Godolphin manager Simon Crisford said: "It was just an easy piece of work over six and a half furlongs and it is important to see how he comes out of this before any final decision can be made."

Ascot preview, page 20