Racing: Foreign soil fertile for Britain's explorers

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British-trained runners have continued their plunder of overseas

prize money this year.

Richard Edmondson reports that the total is rapidly approaching the equivalent of pounds 10m.

Henry Hudson was set adrift by a mutinous crew and never seen again, while Captain Cook was clubbed to death in Hawaii. Seen in that context, the recent explorations by Britain to the Melbourne and Breeders' Cup were not total disasters.

Our boys may not have contributed greatly in the Antipodes and America, but Harbour Dues's fourth at Flemington meant that Australia became the 15th country in which British horses had earned money this year. We have been rude to hosts around the globe.

Before the weekend, British horses had earned pounds 9,390,514 during a campaign which, for the purposes of awarding a honour to the top trainer abroad, starts in early December. The starting pistol for the trainer prize reports after the Japan Cup but before the forthcoming prestige races in Hong Kong, which were won (ton) by First Island and Luso last year.

On Sunday there was a further financial explosion in Italy, including the Premio Roma, the third richest race in that country this year. Britain was also first and second in the Premio Ribot, in which runner-up Gothenberg was making his 12th foreign sortie of the season. Mark Johnston's traveller has picked up a cheque on nine of these occasions, including pounds 88,000 from a success in Berlin.

Victory for Taipan in the main race at the Capannelle took his earnings abroad this year to pounds 488,435. Just one of his seven starts has been conducted in the land of his training. Taipan's day was also a great day for Mom. Alidiva's offspring have now won four Group One contests this season, with contributions also being made by Ali-Royal (Sussex Stakes) and Sleepytime (1,000 Guineas). We hope they all write home.

British horses have had a poor year in Ireland this year, with ne'er a Classic between them. You have to blow the dust off several rows of form books before you can find a previous instance of that. In Italy, on the other hand, they virtually wait for us at the airport with stuffed suitcases. We have filled our boots in the boot nation to the tune of over pounds 2.5m.

France was the second most lucrative destination, followed by Dubai, where the only winner was Singspiel in the Dubai World Cup. That winner's trainer, Michael Stoute, will be the top of his trade abroad this year, and those in file behind him at the moment are Clive Brittain, John Gosden and John Dunlop. But there may be more funds to come.

Singspiel's stablemate Pilsudski, and Luca Cumani's Mons, flew out of Heathrow yesterday bound for Narita airport in Tokyo. On the way to the Japan Cup they were expected to refuel at Anchorage in Alaska, (a flight, during which, they might have been able to see the icily entombed Hudson out of a porthole). The Newmarket pair will be joined in battle a week on Sunday by Ireland's Oscar Schindler, the French colt Astarabad and Germany's Caitano.

Back in the land of the Rising Damp there is less money but at least as much excitement available this weekend at Cheltenham and Ayr. It emerged yesterday that Colin Parker's unbeaten chaser, Sparky Gale, would perform at the former venue in the Murphy's Gold Cup. The trainer did not volunteer cowardice, and the desire to avoid the Gold Cup winner Mr Mulligan in the Sean Graham Chase at Ayr, as part of his decision-making process.

"We would not be afraid to take on Mr Mulligan," Parker said. "But we're fairly well handicapped at Cheltenham and that helped us make up our minds."

Sparky Gale, who won the Cathcart Chase at the Festival, is expected to graduate towards the Gold Cup this season, a target also for a possible opponent on Saturday, Coome Hill. Walter Dennis, the Bude permit holder, was expected to run his former pointer in a long-distance event on the same card, but he is now a little ambiguous.

"I'll decide tomorrow after I've schooled Coome Hill," Dennis said. "It's a bit of a dilemma with one race over 2m5f and the other 3m31/2f. If we're to win the Murphy's, he would get a penalty for the Hennessy that would put him on 12 stone." Chance would be a fine thing.

MURPHY'S GOLD CUP (Cheltenham, Saturday): Coral: 9-4 Sparky Gayle, 5- 2 Challenger Du Luc, 7-2 Dublin Flyer, 9-2 Bertone, 12-1 Potter's Bay, 14-1 Destin d'Estruval, 25-1 Senor El Betrutti & Terao. Ladbrokes: 9-4 Sparky Gayle, 5-2 Challenger Du Luc, 3-1 Dublin Flyer, 9-2 Bertone, 16- 1 Destin d'Estruval, Potter's Bay & Senor El Betrutti.