Racing: French make renewed impact with Splash: A jockey rejected in Hong Kong resumes with a leading role in the Coronation as the champion rider receives a four-day suspension

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The Independent Online
A WEEK ago, Gerald Mosse's career was back at square one. His lucrative contract in Hong Kong had been terminated and the 26-year-old was back among the chorus of France's journeymen jockeys.

Mosse, though, has only had to suffer a small mouthful of the porridge of the Parisian circuit. On Sunday he captured the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) on Shemaka and yesterday he partnered Gold Splash to victory in Royal Ascot's feature race, the Coronation Stakes.

His negotiations to become retained rider to the Aga Khan, Shemaka's owner, may now concern not whether he should get the post, but how much more his salary should be.

Mosse's success from another French filly, Elizabeth Bay, which followed the win of Francois Boutin's Kingmambo in the main event on Tuesday, marked a Gallic revival at this most English of meetings. Andre Fabre's Infrasonic continued the theme in the Queen's Vase.

There was pattern in the Coronation Stakes itself, as Criquette Head, the winning trainer, was following up the two victories of her father, Alec, in the 1950s. 'It's a shame papa is not here,' she said. This was not to say papa is in a different world; he was at home in Chantilly watching the race on satellite television.

Head praised her father - 'I could not have had a better teacher' - and Gold Splash's fortitude. 'She's a small filly but she's got a heart as big as this,' she said, spreading her hands wide enough to accommodate a volleyball.

The French successes had much to do with the British weather, which made the Berkshire terrain as demanding as it has been for the Royal meeting in recent years. Even a casual footstep on the turf was enough to draw a corona of rainwater around footwear.

Ardkinglass was not meant to like these conditions, but still won the Jersey Stakes under Willie Ryan, who may be using up the other half of Mosse's ticket when he flies out to take up his new job in Hong Kong in the autumn.

'I thought the ground would be against him but he was so well we had to let him run,' Henry Cecil, Ardkinglass's trainer, said. 'I thought that if it was soft, there was a chance he might go through it like a knife through butter.'

Cecil was later successful again with Imperial Ballet, the first leg of a Pat Eddery hat-trick. The Irishman twice relegated Michael Roberts to the runner's-up plot and the champion's misery was compounded when he was banned for four days for his use of the whip on Turgenev in the Bessborough Stakes.

Roberts's boss, Sheikh Mohammed, fared little better; the Arab owner, along with the other Maktoum brothers, has yet to register a win at the meeting.

Imperial Ballet is bred to be a champion - his sire is the omnipotent Sadler's Wells and his dam the 1977 Queen Mary Stakes winner, Amaranda - but has been plagued by the equine variation of housemaid's knee.

The colt would set off the alarms at an airport security check as he has screws in a joint, but the cushion of turf yesterday aided his cause as he scooted home.

The only more impressive winner was Risky, who indicated she was going to win the Queen Mary even before she was inserted into the stalls. 'I told Pat (Eddery) at the start that if she came back as well as she went down I'd win,' Walter Swinburn, the filly's jockey, said.

Risky is owned by Roldvale Ltd, the trading company of David Sullivan, who was introduced rather kindly as Mr Roldvale before one post-race interview. Others could refer to him as Mr Porn.

Sullivan used the forum of the winners' enclosure to bemoan the plight of small owners, continuing what has become an empty argument in racing. It is difficult to feel sorry for people who can afford racehorses at any time, and even more difficult to be touched by sympathy for a man who has 26 horses and sleazy newspapers and phonelines as his pump.

(Photograph omitted)

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