Racing: Panto season going strong

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The Independent Online
IT IS five seasons since Panto Prince stretched Desert Orchid to the limit in Ascot's Victor Chandler Chase, but the 12- year-old showed he retains plenty of his old zest when outspeeding Young Hustler and Kings Fountain in the race to honour the great grey at Wincanton yesterday.

It was Panto Prince's second success in 12 days and his 25th from 77 career starts, but was accomplished without his intended partner, Brendan Powell. He took a knock in the previous race, and Simon McNeill deputised with style, cutting down Young Hustler after the last when it had looked likely that last year's Sun Alliance Chase winner would successfully make all the running.

A similarly late thrust took the main event at Newbury, the Horris Hill Stakes. The Deep, with Darryll Holland on board, had smoothly gone three lengths clear inside the final furlong, but was caught on the line by Tatami under an inspired ride from Michael Roberts. He is in the final weeks of his employment for Tatami's owner, Sheikh Mohammed, and also timed his run beautifully on Branston Abby to win the sprint handicap.

Tatami's trainer, Luca Cumani, said: 'This horse has some turn of foot and that will be useful for next year. Any horse that wins a Group race as a two-year- old must be a Classic hope.' Tatami is 33-1 for the 2,000 Guineas with William Hill.

Googly's win later in the afternoon created two landmarks: he gave John Reid the first century of his career and was the last runner saddled by Bill Wightman, Britain's longest serving trainer.

Wightman, 79, had been training for 56 years. He intended retiring yesterday whatever the fate of Googly. 'I've had the best of it, now it's time to put the guns away,' he said and recalled his first success at Warwick in 1937.

A master at placing horses, he won most of the major handicaps. Googly and the rest of Wightman's string will be sold at Newmarket on Monday.

(Photograph omitted)