Racing: Hannon takes the upper hand

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WITHOUT the support of an Arab owner, Richard Hannon has had a hand tied behind his back in the pursuit of winners throughout his training career. This season, however, Hannon has made this handicap as relevant as if he was in an arm-wrestling contest.

The first man to 100 winners this year, at Brighton on Wednesday, the Wiltshire trainer is also pounds 40,000 ahead in the money stakes. If his form holds, the trainers' title will be surrendered, for the first time since the advent of Arab involvement in the late 1970s, to a man outside their favours.

Runner-up in terms of both money and winners last year, to Paul Cole and Jack Berry, Hannon is now poised to claim his first crown in 22 years with a licence. 'Obviously, I'd like to finish up where I am now,' he says. 'But there's York to go through and a lot of big meetings and big races before the end of the season.'

While Hannon's growing reputation means he now has a string to compare with all but the leading Newmarket trainers in size, the absence of a wealthy backer means he has none of the expensive yearlings that appear on these shores each year.

Hannon's huge, bear-like frame is never seen bidding at the Keeneland Sales, but it is rarely out of the winners' enclosure, usually at the side of an animal which has produced a performance to belie its breeding.

Among his older horses, the July Cup winner Mr Brooks and Shalford, a dual Group-race winner, have been the main depositors to the coffers this term while, in Lyric Fantasy and Son Pardo, he has the leading juvenile filly and colt. Both purchased in Britain, they cost 12,500 gns and 17,500 gns respectively.

'We've been lucky this year,' Hannon says. 'We've got quite a few good horses and they've kept healthy nearly all the way through.'

Son Pardo aims to maintain the good fortune on Sunday, when the Richmond Stakes winner goes for the Heinz '57' Stakes at Leopardstown. His trainer was second in the race three years ago with a horse whose name epitomises the policy he has had to follow in purchases over the years, Duck And Dive, and its value has lured him again this year.

'With the money on offer we've got to go for it,' he says. 'It's worth pounds 160,000 and they pay down to the tenth, and there's only ten left in it.'

And that includes two other inmates at East Everleigh in Port Lucaya and Pips Pride, one of whom will join Son Pardo. The latter was in fact considered to be Son Pardo's superior until the two met at Goodwood. 'Pips Pride has always worked very well at home but the other one saves his work until he gets to the races,' the trainer says. 'Son Pardo has won his last four and as he only does just enough to win I don't know when he's going to stop.'

Certainly the East Everleigh bandwagon shows no signs of changing down a gear. The stable's sole runner yesterday, After The Last, won at Brighton to give his jockey, John Reid, a birthday win 24 hours after the Ulsterman rode five winners in a day.

With Sheikh Mohammed's retained jockey, Steve Cauthen, on duty at Deauville, where he was on the mark, Pat Eddery came in for the winning ride on Avice Caro on the same card. The Irishman may have felt he deserved this favour after missing two winning mounts on Wednesday to support Cauthen's case against a whip ban at the Jockey Club.

Eddery's victory did not match the achievements of his main rival in the jockeys' championship, Michael Roberts, though. The South African, who also gave evidence at Cauthen's tribunal, recorded a double at Pontefract with Almuhtarama and Ushba, who was an initial winner for first-season trainer Clive Cox, the former jump jockey.

(Photograph omitted)