Racing: Lochsong strikes a high note: A flying filly continues her owner's remarkable run of fortune. Richard Edmondson reports from York

Click to follow
The Independent Online
JEFF SMITH is a lucky owner. He is the sort of man who could walk blindfold through a farmer's field and emerge with clean brogues.

Since Smith was first represented on the racecourse in 1976 he has seen heady times with the likes of Chief Singer and Dashing Blade, but yesterday he enjoyed his finest hour when Lochsong captured the Nunthorpe Stakes. 'This is the most emotional moment I've ever had in racing,' he said.

Lochsong's victory was the stuff for dreamers. Fifteen months ago she was a moderate handicapper, her career apparently manacled by wobbly knees. 'The vet said he wouldn't look at the X-rays of her if he was me,' Ian Balding, the filly's trainer, said.

But from an initial winning mark of 73 last season in the prosaic Paul Caddick and Macgay Sprint Handicap here, Lochsong marched through a series of valuable races to an official shelf of 106. The improvement continued this year and she has now moved on by three stones from her early performances.

Yet earlier this season the progression looked to be at an end. Four flat displays prompted Smith to return Lochsong to her birthplace at his Littleton Stud at Winchester for a final attempt at rekindling. 'Jeff said that if she didn't sparkle after that he'd keep her at home,' Balding said. 'But she put on 10 kilos there and held on to most of it.'

Lochsong also managed to hold on to herself better than she has ever done yesterday, relaxing easily in the hands of Lanfranco Dettori. 'She surprised me today,' the jockey said. 'I was going to settle her, but she did it herself and picked up at the two-furlong marker before I even asked her.'

Just as in her last win at Goodwood, Lochsong was locked together for much of the way with Paris House, and their relationship may be even closer next season as a free breeding nomination to the grey horse has been offered to Smith.

There is no more expressive victor than Dettori in Britain's weighing room, but yesterday he was at his most unbridled, invoking the name of Linford Christie as he returned and wrapping his arms round Smith (while still on horseback) and then Balding (when on terra firma).

'I'm just amazed at the way she has improved with every race,' the jockey said. 'It's very thrilling to ride a filly like that.'

His incredulity was nothing compared to Smith's however, and the owner conducted interviews with the air of a man who had just walked into a beam.

Smith's head did clear enough to map out the future for Lochsong, who will now be prepared for the Prix de l'Abbaye on Arc day. Further down the path, she will be mated next spring before running for as long as burgeoning motherhood will allow. 'She can't run forever and I can only remain emotional for so long,' Smith said.

Other notable victories yesterday came in the Lowther Stakes for Paul Cole's Velvet Moon, who will now chase bonus money in the Houghton Sales Conditions Stakes at Newmarket, and Pat Eddery, whose handicap success on Dawning Street ensured he was the Ebor meeting's leading jockey.

The fast-finishing, and perhaps unlucky, second in this race was Philidor, who is owned by a man called Jeff Smith. For some reason, he did not look too displeased.

(Photograph omitted)

Comments