Racing: Orchestra sets his stall out

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The Independent Online
Double Trigger, the leading force among stayers for some time now, went into yesterday's Sagaro Stakes with nine Group victories to his name. Like another who has held top office for a while, he found No 10 an elusive target yesterday.

The chestnut's efforts to record a hat-trick in the Group Three race foundered dramatically as he limped home last behind Orchestra Stall. Wilawander was second and Election Day, who at one stage looked as though he might finish on the date his name suggested, struggled back up into third.

Orchestra Stall has suffered for much of his career because of an apprehension (drawn from his breeding) that he would perform best on spongy going. He disappointed on such a surface on his reappearance, but looked a different performer yesterday. "We didn't like the idea of running on this ground," Lord Swaythling, the gelding's part-owner, said. "But obviously the horse did. Now we'll have to put him in all the decent staying races."

There is a slight problem there. The entries for the Ascot Gold Cup closed yesterday and Orchestra Stall's name was not among them. Nevertheless there will be other prizes for the five-year-old, even if none of them come in beauty contests. He was by no means the pick of the catwalk yesterday.

Jiyush was certainly the noisiest, blasting out snorts that would have extinguished a brazier. Wilawander took the eye with his caramel coat, but Double Trigger, who looks as though he has been the victim of a whitewash attack, was again the magnet. It remains a surprise his rider comes out wearing a helmet and not a stetson.

The favourite was reported by connections to be "full of beans", but from half-way he moved as if there was also chips, Yorkshire pudding and semolina down there as well. Jason Weaver had to get to work. "Three and a half out I thought we still had a chance," the jockey said. "I was pushing and pumping from Swinley Bottom but I was like that last year so I wasn't that worried. But then he was gone. Obviously I'm disappointed but he'll be back."

There was no easy explanation from the horse's trainer either. "I told Jason that if they were going too fast to let him come in his own time, but he didn't come," Mark Johnston said. "It may be that he doesn't try when he isn't in front. Jason said that he didn't make much effort and we ought to try him in blinkers but then that was his opinion this time last year."

Orchestra Stall's victory launched a double for Richard Quinn, successful later in the Victoria Cup on Tregaron. The latter was considered atrociously handicapped by Reg Akehurst, but the trainer usually says that before he wins this race. He has collected it twice before with Sky Cloud and Far North.

Akehurst's horses returned from action for part of last season as if they required an inhaler and the trainer put this down to fields of oilseed rape near the Epsom gallops. "It's detrimental to people who have got asthma and I'm sure it's detrimental to horses," he said. "The pollen is rich and oily and we had a lot of lung infections.

"The farmer had already planted it again for this year but he's a terrific chap because he's sprayed it and killed the lot. I owe him a debt of gratitude." Point taken. If you ever see Bert Perry in a betting shop having a punt on a South Hatch runner, match his bet.

There was a blast from the past in the Chobham Stakes when Nwaamis, who was fifth in the 1995 2,000 Guineas, finally found his way back to the winners' enclosure at the age of five. The old horse has been kept from the track by a parasitic disease which affects the nervous system called EPM. Someone may be suffering from a similarly debilitating affliction tonight known as ex-PM.

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