Racing: New career beckons for Cigar

THE SECOND most famous cigar in America, the racehorse of that name, could soon be back on the track, but not to race.

The highest-earning thoroughbred of all time proved to be infertile when he retired from racing to the Ashford Stud in Kentucky last year. However, his owner, Allen Paulson, is now close to an agreement with the insurers holding Cigar's $25m fertility policy that may release him to Paulson's care.

Despite his inability to sire any offspring, let alone one that could come within a furlong of matching his own ability, Cigar, winner of the 1995 Breeders' Cup Classic and 1996 Dubai World Cup, remains a favourite with his owner and with the American public.

His rehabilitation would involve spending a restful retirement from both course and covering shed at his owner's Brookside Farm in Kentucky. Cigar could, however, embark on the celebrity circuit, making guest appearances at racetracks across the United States.

"Every race track I go to people ask me when we're going to get Cigar back," Paulson said. "We've got some big paddocks waiting for him."

Cigar would also spend part of the year at the Kentucky Horse Park - a rest home for celebrity racehorses - alongside Forego and John Henry, both track champions but both denied a career at stud by the surgeon's scalpel before their ability was recognised.

Hong Kong, meanwhile, could soon be used as a model for racing in Mongolia. The President of the province, Natsagiin Bagabandi, recently led a 90- strong delegation to Sha Tin racecourse, where he toured the grandstands and stables and watched the horses working.

Mongol horses were the foundation of racing in Hong Kong. At home they raced up to 30 miles in a straight line but soon adapted to the demands of a conventional circuit.

n Eddie Callaghan will miss the holiday racing programme after his injury jinx struck again. He broke his collar-bone - for the second time this season - in a schooling accident on Wednesday morning and faces another spell on the sidelines. Callaghan was due to ride at Market Rasen today.

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