Racing: Moonax puts Flyer to flight

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The Independent Online
MOONAX and Pat Eddery sprang a 40-1 shock in the St Leger here yesterday in a race dominated by the Hills family from Lambourn. The winner is trained by father Barry; the runner-up Broadway Flyer trained and ridden by his sons John and Michael.

Hills senior backed a hunch when it came to running Moonax, who had not won a race since April. He said: 'He was in two lower-grade races here on Friday, but I had a feeling about the big one. My horses have not been running well, over the last few days this one had been coming right. I am delighted to win; the only disappointment is to have beaten my sons.'

Moonax was the longest- priced winner of the St Leger, this year sponsored by TeleConnection, since Polemarch scored at 50-1 in 1921. And the unfanciedness of the winner took not an iota from the spectacle of two brave horses fighting out the finish of the oldest and toughest of all the Classics.

Broadway Flyer, who looked set to run for his life beforehand, made a most gallant attempt to make all, and the pace he set undid most of his rivals. He came into the long, demanding Doncaster straight four lengths clear of Red Route and Midnight Legend, with Moonax at the back at this stage.

One after the other, the market leaders tried to get on terms, but to no avail. Two furlongs out Ionio had moved into second place, flattered for a few strides, but could do no more, and suddenly the flashy white face of Sheikh Mohammed's Moonax appeared in the firing line. It took Moonax, a big, long-striding son of Caerleon, until well inside the final furlong to get to, and then past, the dogged Broadway Flyer.

Both horses dug deep in those final strength-sapping furlongs; as Michael Hills said: 'There's no point in playing jockeys at that stage, it's just you and the horse to the line.' The Yorkshire-trained Double Trigger found his second wind and stayed on at one pace for third, ahead of Sacrament, who had no sort of run early in the straight but could not quicken. Ionio faded to fifth; the favourite Red Route, whom Willie Ryan reported lifeless throughout, beat only Midnight Legend home and was routinely dope-tested.

Moonax won his first two races of the season, then damaged a leg while being loaded on to a plane to travel to Italy for the Italian Derby. He suffered another setback when he damaged his back in a race in Germany, but made a promising comeback at Newbury.

Eddery, winning his third St Leger, said: 'I did wonder if I'd get to the winner up the straight as he had such a lead and wasn't stopping, but I kept asking, my horse kept picking up well and I knew I had him at the furlong marker.'

A disappointed John Hills, still waiting for his first Classic success, was one of the first to congratulate his father. He said: 'My horse ran a marvellous race, and if anyone had to beat me, it was the right person.'

With this year's Classic season over, thoughts are turning to the 1995 renewals. And in yesterday's opener Nuriva, trained by Michael Stoute, absolutely streaked away from her rivals through the final furlong to win by seven lengths and earn herself a 20-1 tag with Hills for the 1,000 Guineas which, next spring at Newmarket, will be Britain's first Classic to be run on a Sunday.

In Ireland, the much-

improved Cezanne won a controversial Guinness Champion Stakes at Leopardstown which resulted in Muhtarram's rider Willie Carson receiving a three- day ban.

In a tactical contest, Frankie Dettori set the pace on Del Deya and, when he attempted to steady the tempo just after halfway, Michael Kinane astutely moved Cezanne up to track Del Deya as she swung for home. The pair quickened clear of Muhtarram and Grand Lodge who bumped each other as they scambled to make up ground on the leaders in the closing stages.

Cezanne eventually touched off Del Deya with Muhtarram and Grand Lodge close-up in third and fourth. But after an inquiry, Muhtarram was demoted to fourth, Grand Lodge promoted to third and Carson suspended.

(Photograph omitted)