Racing: Hills is high on hurdles

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The Independent Online
SIX OF Britain's Flat jockeys pulled down their goggles at Chepstow yesterday and simultaneously felt as frightened as they would ever do before a race.

The sextet's apprehension can be explained by the identities of the other riders ranged against them in the two-mile event. Names like Scudamore, Dunwoody and Dwyer, which meant hazards like cold weather, slippery ground and, most of all, hurdles.

The man who managed to overcome his nerves most proficiently was Michael Hills, who partnered Milton Bradley's Silver Age to victory in the charity Flat versus jumps jockeys race over timber.

'At the start I thought what am I doing here,' Hills said. 'But once under way I got my confidence and loved every minute of it. He made a mistake when diving at the third last but I sat as still as a mouse and we survived.'

Lanfranco Dettori, who was fourth on Gold Medal, did not find it difficult to be excited by the mission. He called the race 'the greatest thrill of my life'.

George Duffield was similarly charmed by the experience and later completed another great ambition when Two Left Feet gave him his maiden century in the saddle after 25 years as a rider.

Duffield, the son of a pitman, dedicated this victory to a topical cause. 'My 100th winner is for the miners,' he said.

The 45-year-old has been fiendishly close to completing the ton in the past - scores of 98, 94 (twice) and 92 are already in the log - and it was apt that the man who has retained him for the last 19 years, the Newmarket trainer Sir Mark Prescott, supplied yesterday's winner.

Another landmark should be reached at Chester this afternoon when Michael Roberts has six rides in his effort to reach 200 winners for the season. The South African won on Iota at the Roodeye yesterday and is now just one success short of a point only four men - Fred Archer, Tommy Loates, Sir Gordon Richards and Pat Eddery - have reached before.