Racing: Kinane conjures a Grand opening: Royal Ascot: A prestigious treble enhances the reputation of the world's most sought-after jockey as one for whom there is no substitute

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The Independent Online
WHEN Michael Kinane first started winning big races they used to call him supersub. These days, the sub is unnecessary.

The 34-year-old Irishman further polished his reputation as perhaps the globe's finest exponent in the saddle yesterday with three victories at the Royal meeting, as well as two thirds. Tilty, his mount in the last, finished 26th, which must mean he is not a very good horse at all.

Kinane is happy with life. His arrangement, with Dermot Weld in Ireland during the summer and working in Hong Kong in the winter months, is such that he was able to turn down the job as first jockey to Sheikh Mohammed, the world's most powerful owner, earlier this year.

However, it was in his capacity as roving freelance to the Sheikh that he secured two victories yesterday, on Barathea and Foyer, which distanced the owner's recollections of last year, when he had 11 seconds at the meeting.

Kinane's most prestigious victory, though, was on Grand Lodge in the St James's Palace Stakes. The terrible force he generates in the saddle went just over the acceptable margin here and the jockey was suspended for two days for misuse and force with the whip. The punishment will not be how he remembers the day, however.

The others involved in Grand Lodge's success were an owner and trainer partnership with 114 years between them. There is an unusual split to that figure, though, as Lord Howard de Walden, the man who pays the bills, is now into his 82nd year. The Lord's stride may have shortened, and his communication is helped by a hearing aid, but a combative edge remains. Yesterday, he had Jockey Club officials, who last season assessed his colt on the lowest mark ever awarded to a top- rated two-year-old, in the cross hairs. 'You can now tell those handicappers to go and stuff it up them,' he said.

This was the Lord's third winner from four runners in the race, following Kris and Shavian, but only the second Group One success for Grand Lodge's trainer, Willie Jarvis. As he accepted congratulations, the 33-year-old Newmarket man looked a shattered figure. He was hyperventilating, his body shook, the eyes went heavenwards and the words came falteringly. The evidence that this was a day he had stood up to be counted was the apricot rose, the colour of his owner's silks, in the buttonhole. 'He's a very easy horse to train,' Jarvis said. 'Even I can't bugger him up.'

Grand Lodge is woken each morning at the Phantom House stables by Tony Carson, the son of Willie. The lad tried to get his father on Grand Lodge, but if Carson Snr missed out on that winner, he did at least capture a worthwhile bauble on Muhtarram in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes.

Carson again showed he has a Roman taxi driver's temperament for rough traffic (a trait he displayed in the Derby on Erhaab) as he threaded John Gosden's colt through a narrow fissure in the closing stages. 'Willie waited and waited for his gap,' the trainer observed. 'He didn't force the gap or budge or push anybody aside to get through.'

Gosden would like to move on now to the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, but that is also a consideration for Erhaab, another horse owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum. 'He's pretty much tailor-made for the Eclipse and he likes that track,' the Newmarket man said. 'But it wouldn't be the intelligent thing to do to run them against each other. I think that would be a little more than sporting, it might be verging on recklessness.' The Grand Prix de Saint Cloud is an alternative for Muhtarram.

The future for Barathea, the Queen Anne Stakes winner, involves all the top mile races, including the Sussex Stakes, where he will probably meet Grand Lodge. Luca Cumani's colt ran with distinction in the Breeders' Cup last November, but a return is not paramount in the minds of the men behind him. 'The Breeders' Cup is an afterthought,' the trainer said. 'My plan and Sheikh Mohammed's plan is to establish the horse as the best older miler in Europe.'

Connections had planned to start off Barathea later than normal this season, and it appeared the colt had seen a copy of the minutes. 'He got adjusted to the Californian climate and clock and he didn't get his summer coat until much later than other horses,' Cumani said.

In the circumstances, Barathea had the right man at the reins to wake him on a day when the first five races all went to photo finishes. In most of them, Michael Kinane was the figure who appeared to be saying cheese.

(Photograph omitted)

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