Racing: Lady Herries counts her blessings

GLORIOUS GOODWOOD: An all-the-way victory rewards believers while today's Sussex Stakes could also fall to a front-runner
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The Independent Online
Any number of miracles have been ascribed to a pilgrimage to Lourdes, and while Danish Rhapsody's victory in the big race on Glorious Goodwood's opening day was not quite in that category, it was at least a tale of faith rewarded. Lady Herries, the winner's trainer, listened to the race on her mobile phone shortly after attending mass at the French shrine, and doubtless returned to the altar immediately afterwards to offer up a prayer of thanks.

Danish Rhapsody was sent to the sales last autumn, after two races for Lady Herries in Peter Savill's colours which showed promise but nothing more. The trainer believed in him, however, and secured him for just 1,300 guineas to race for Chris Hardy, who was making his first venture into ownership. Yesterday's victory took the gelding's earnings this season past pounds 40,000.

For John Reid, fresh from his victory on Swain in the King George at Ascot, this was another journey to a high-profile winner's enclosure, but while his King George success came thanks to a well-judged challenge in the straight, this was a classic Goodwood display.

Horses can build up a tremendous head of steam on the steep Sussex gradients, making front-runners difficult to pass, and Danish Rhapsody did not see another horse as Reid dictated the pace to perfection. "I've never ridden him before," the jockey said. "Maxine [Cowdrey, Lady Herries' assistant] said jump off and make all so it was quite easy.''

Reid's task in the Gordon Stakes was not so straightforward, however, and the jockey was banned for five days for irresponsible riding on Silence Reigns, who was demoted from fourth to sixth.

In an interesting departure, the stewards' inquiry was shown live by the BBC, though without the sound. Reid's immediate reaction to his suspension might not have been fit to broadcast in any case. "It was a very bad decision," he said later. "The winner [Stowaway] hampered Olivier Peslier so I had to pull up. Had I not done so, I would probably have clipped that horse and fallen.''

The Gordon Stakes is the first worthwhile trial for the St Leger, and Stowaway could well go to Doncaster in September, although his habit of running too freely in the early stages of a race may count against him. "We've always thought a lot of this horse," Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, said. "He is talented, and next year he'll be a serious racehorse.''

It was York, rather than Doncaster, which was on the mind after the Grosvenor Casinos Handicap for stayers, and Media Star, another winner who led throughout, is now 6-1 favourite with Coral, William Hill and Ladbrokes for the Ebor Handicap, three weeks today. The same meeting will also provide a fresh target for Averti, who gave William Muir his first Group-race success, in the King George Stakes, and will now step up to Group One company in the Nunthorpe Stakes.

Averti, too, was rewarding the faith of connections after a series of frustrations including unsuitably soft ground and, most recently, dreadful traffic problems in a race at Newbury. Ever since Averti, now six, arrived at Muir's yard as a juvenile, the trainer has been convinced of his potential. "When we were breaking him in, he rolled over and broke my wife Janet's leg," Muir recalled. "The lads came running in to tell me that she was hurt, and I said "never mind her, how's the horse.''

Muir was quick to add that Janet is still Mrs Muir. It must have been a very large bunch of flowers.