Racing: Purple patch for Fortune

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The Independent Online
FOR THE wildly imaginative and eternally optimistic, today is the day to sharpen the punting pencil. Newbury offers two televised handicaps of 20 runners and Ayr has a race of similar type and volume plus the Gold and Silver Cups, both of which will see fields of 29 steaming down the straight.

Anyone who gets all the winners of these contests deserves to be a millionaire, which is exactly what one punter will become if they are the single person to forecast the Tote Trifecta in the Ayr Gold Cup. Are you feeling lucky?

Richard Fahey has already enjoyed a training red letter day this season when Superior Premium won the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood and again has prospects with the favourite today in the Ayr Gold Cup. It may be, though, that the stable's EASTERN PURPLE (nap 4.05) has a better chance at better odds. He is 11lb better off for two lengths with Superior Premium on Goodwood form.

The three-year-old will be ridden by a man who has already had a result this week, Jimmy Fortune. The 26-year-old jockey was yesterday confirmed as Robert Sangster's principal rider. Fortune now anticipates glories and remuneration to match his name.

"I'm very lucky to be offered this opportunity and I will be aiming to make the most of it," he said. "Mr Sangster has some excellent horses and I'm looking forward to riding all of them. Every jockey wants to be champion and whether it will happen for me I don't know, but I shall certainly be striving for it."

Fortune's elevation means demotion for John Reid, who has not exactly locked himself inside a bedroom and wept into his pillow at this turn of events. The Ulsterman, who will still have connections with Manton, even managed to read the appointment as beneficial yesterday. "It will free me up a little bit," he said. "I was very much lined up towards Robert in keeping him happy and sweet and I have missed out on a lot of places where I should have been. So I can do my own thing a bit more."

Sweetness seems now in limited supply between jockey and owner. "The most disappointing thing is that Robert couldn't come to me and talk about the situation," Reid said. "We're all grown up and I have been around long enough to understand the situation. I wouldn't have had a problem with it.

"The trouble is that if Robert has a good horse now it is sold. So I would rather be freed up to ride in better races."

The final barb came when Reid reflected on his best moments at Manton. "Riding the Derby winner Dr Devious was one, but that wasn't his," he said. "Another horse that gave me a lot of pleasure was Spectrum, but that wasn't his either."

Today Reid may collect his second St Leger in eight days when he partners Godolphin's Kayf Tara in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh. Last Saturday he carried the Royal blue silks to success on Nedawi at Doncaster. The opposition, however, is fierce. Ranged against him are fellow travellers Delilah and the strong man of last year's St Leger, Silver Patriarch. John Oxx's Ebadiyla will also ensure the hosts are not too generous.

In Ireland tomorrow Aidan O'Brien saddles three runners, including likely favourite, Coliseum, in the National Stakes. The trainer also sends out the hugely hyped Stravinsky in the Prix de la Salamandre at Longchamp today after having dithered for most of yesterday between that race and the Mill Reef Stakes for the 1999 2,000 Guineas favourite. His commitment to France sets up a delicious encounter as Godolphin's unbeaten Aljabr also runs.

RICHARD EDMONDSON

Nap: Eastern Purple

(Ayr 4.05)

NB: Generous Libra

(Newbury 3.00)

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