Racing: Pipe stays a jump ahead with Far Cry

Doncaster St Leger meeting: Top National Hunt trainer lands Cup to fuel Cesarewitch and Champion Hurdle dream
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THE PUBLICITY coup that was the Great North Eastern Railway raceday here yesterday lost a little of its lustre when the Great North Eastern Railway failed to get many of its passengers to the races on time.

In great Reggie Perrin fashion, travellers on the 10.33 from King's Cross were informed of overhead powerline failure between Peterborough and Grantham. As the train pulled into Doncaster, Flanders was galloping across the line in the Scarbrough Stakes. The Fat Controller will not be happy.

A more fitting advertisement came yet again for the skills of Martin Pipe, who would surely be a considerable figure on the Flat were he not busy extending further his total as the most successful National Hunt trainer of the 20th Century. Pipe was at Newton Abbot, but proof of his talent was on Town Moor when Far Cry galloped off with the Doncaster Cup.

The Somerset trainer had been almost apologetic in his inclusion of the four-year-old in the race. True he had won the Northumberland Plate on his latest outing, but that still made him officially 20lb worse than yesterday's favourite, Celeric. Nobody, though, seemed to have told the respective horses about this discrepancy.

Far Cry was settled in second place behind Jamaican Flight in the early stages as Celeric dawdled at the rear. The decisive moment came just after the field swung for home. "I had something to run at going into the straight and I thought that if I kicked and put some daylight between myself and the rest they might not get back to me," Kevin Darley reported. "When they came to me inside the final furlong my little horse stuck his head out and would not be denied. He's like a little terrier."

Rainbow High got closest as the pack bore down on its quarry. He was a head away, with an outwitted Pat Eddery on Celeric a strong-finishing third.

In another instance it would have been appropriate to point out that this had been a heartstopping finish to Far Cry's owner. It is not a phrase however which much delights Patrick Chambers, who had a valve put in his heart just days before his four-year-old's success in Kempton's Queen's Prize back in April. "We decided to buy him on the Wednesday, I went into hospital for an operation on the Friday, bought him on the Monday, came out of hospital on the Wednesday and he won on the Saturday," was Chambers' Solomon Grundy version of events.

Yesterday was the first time Chambers had seen his property live in competitive action. Absence had made his heart grow fonder. "I had a feeling about the horse, that he was going to do something special for me, when I bought him," he said. "He's so brave, isn't he?"

Chambers and his wife Nicky were last night supervising other bloodstock interests at Monmore Green where they ran 10 greyhounds. The surgeon's expertise was to be given another test.

Far Cry is now 7-1 for the Cesarewitch (with William Hill) and also 33- 1 for the Champion Hurdle. An earlier ante-post price of 16-1 for next year's 1,000 Guineas had been issued by Ladbrokes about Teggiano after Clive Brittain's filly had run away with the May Hill Stakes. She was outstanding in the paddock and occupies a similar ranking in the trainer's mind. "She's up there with Pebbles and Sayyedati," Brittain said. Frankie Dettori added: "She's still on the weak side and she's got lots of scope for next year. She's very relaxed. She idled a bit and I gave her a couple of smacks because the next time we'll have to take on the best ones and she'll know what's coming."

Next time will be in either the Fillies' Mile at Ascot or Longchamp's Prix Marcel Boussac, which may be the last time she is sent into battle by Brittain. Teggiano is owned by Abdullah Saeed Bul Had, an associate of the Maktoum family, and it may be that conscription papers to the Godolphin army will be soon arriving at Carlburg stables.

"Sheikh Mohammed is no different from any other owner and if he feels I'm not doing a good job, or someone else could do better, my gate is open and I can't do anything about it," Brittain conceded. "I've got no axe to grind about that and I've never been a crier."