Racing: Holland's hope in Land Of Dreams

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The Independent Online
ONLY TWO riders have a semblance of a chance of catching Kieren Fallon in the jockeys' championship this year, and one of them isn't Frankie Dettori. Darryll Holland has been the surprise success story of 1998, as he closes in on a century of winners without much national reportage.

Much of the media blackout has been of the 26-year-old Mancunian's own design. The press analysis of Holland's severances with first Barry Hills and then Mark Johnston has upset the jockey, and his lips were definitely zipped after he was refused a licence to ride in Hong Kong for a third season. "Dutch" has returned from the island both an improved rider and, according to the man himself, a more astute human being. "I think I've come back a better person from over there," he says. "I'm better at presenting myself with people, television and the media.

"I love my racing here because it's the best in the world and money can't buy everything, especially not English racetracks. But of course you miss the money in Hong Kong, because over there I was getting about five times the amount I might here."

Holland swaps one land of dreams for another today when he participates in the Stanley Leisure Sprint Cup at Haydock. Mark Johnston's Land Of Dreams is his conveyance in the Group One contest as Holland attempts to erase the memory of a sloppy run in York's Nunthorpe Stakes.

That day, Land Of Dreams finished behind the comet that was Ian Balding's Lochangel. The half-sister to Lochsong, like Sunday's French winner Andreyev, will be a popular choice today for those who adhere to the sprinters-in- form theory. Connections have only just finished clearing away the party debris.

Lochangel, however, may not be favourite. That distinction is likely to belong to Elnadim, who will run if there is not significant overnight rain. John Dunlop's colt, though, has developed the frustrating habit of disappointing just at the moment he seems poised to prove himself a racehorse of great merit. His record-breaking July Cup victory (when Tamarisk and Arkadian Hero were among his nearest pursuers) was gained on a concrete surface. There will be no repetition of that ground today, probably no repetition of the result.

Lochangel then seems to possess the better credentials, even if it must be stressed she had the best of the draw at the Knavesmire. With this in mind, the value option is Land Of Dreams (next best 3.30), who was drawn out of it in stall one at York but who now has a far more favourable berth.

Haydock's banker is Crown Of Trees (2.30), who is sent up from David Loder's yard. The Newmarket trainer has been trying to send out a two- year-old loser for some time now but his horses keep letting him down.

Epsom, like Haydock sponsored by Stanley Leisure, is supported by people who have got most of our money already. The main contest on the Surrey card is the Grosvenor Casinos September Stakes, which is populated by several familiar names. The one to be on though is the only representative from the Classic generation, RABAH (nap 4.00).

For those requiring pure quality, tomorrow's racing features Group Ones in Ireland and France. In Longchamp's Prix du Moulin, John Reid links up at the top level with O'Brien and Ballydoyle for the first time since he used to ride horses for the great Vincent. Now he combines with another grandmaster in young Aidan, who sends out the Derby disaster Second Empire.

Last year's top-class two-year-old has something to prove, as might his pilot. Reid's relationship (and riding post) with Robert Sangster appears to have hit turbulence following the revelation that the owner will be courting Jimmy Fortune at next week's St Leger meeting. This Reid however does not bend easily. Second Empire looks more attractive than Britain's Desert Prince and Almushtarak, and has Japan's Seeking The Pearl to beat.

The jewel at the Curragh is the Moyglare Stud Stakes, which, predictably enough, is under assault from an Aidan O'Brien battery. Ireland's champion trainer saddles five of the 15 runners but, uncharacteristically, is not expected to win. Those preferred are Britain's Wannabe Grand and Enemy Action, while the best form of all belongs to John Oxx's Edabiya.