Racing : Racing unites to grieve for Davis

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The Independent Online
Racing united in mourning yesterday for the jump jockey Richard Davis, who died on Friday evening after a steeplechasing fall at Southwell. There was a minute's silence at all of the afternoon's four meetings; here at Newmarket racegoers stood in the sunshine, heads bowed in tribute to the 26-year-old, before proceedings began.

Davis, the seventh jockey to be killed in action in Britain in the past 15 years, was not a household name, but he was a grafter, dedicated and enthusiastic and much liked by those who knew him. His death is a stark reminder of the risks of the sport, both on the Flat and over obstacles, and although safety measures in racing have improved out of all recognition in recent years, nothing can legislate for the impact of half a ton of horse landing on the human body.

Jimmy Quinn, one of the riders at Newmarket, spoke for many of his colleagues when he said: "I didn't know the lad, but something like this brings home the risks that anyone who gets on a horse takes. We're all family, Flat or jumps."

Michael Hills must wait until Wednesday, when his appeal against a riding ban is heard by the Jockey Club stewards, before he knows whether he can partner the favourite Pentire in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes on Saturday. But he was in sparkling form at Flat racing's headquarters yesterday, taking feature races on Missile and Shemozzle.

Missile, clearly appreciating the switch back to a mile and fast ground after his failure in the mud over ten furlongs at Sandown last time, lived up to his name in the Foodbrokers Animal Health Trust Trophy Rated Handicap. Hills asked the William Haggas-trained gelding for his effort a quarter of a mile out and he settled the issue in a matter of strides, rocketing clear of My Lewicia inside the final furlong.

Kieren Fallon, who starts a five-day suspension on Tuesday, was another in double form with victories in the first two races on Top Cees, who has the Cesarewitch as his autumn target, and Hawksley Hill, both for Lynda Ramsden.

The perils of raceriding were further illustrated at Newbury before the start of the main event, the Weatherbys Super Sprint. Darryll Holland took a nasty fall when Nervous Rex collided with the rails opposite the stands on his way to post and, although not seriously hurt, had to give up his remaining rides. The blinkered colt bolted in panic through two fences into the coach park before careering back round the course. He was recaptured unscathed, but withdrawn from the race.

Richard Hannon maintained his fine record in the Super Sprint when Miss Stamper gave him his third win in the six runnings of the contest, restricted to horses at the bargain-basement end of the yearling auction market. The filly, bought for 10,000 guineas in Ireland last year, followed in the hoofprints of Lyric Fantasy and Risky by running on well down the centre of the track under David Harrison to hold Young Bigwig by half a length.

Miss Stamper was one of four runners fielded by Hannon, who has also had seven horses placed previously. The Wiltshire trainer said: "If you run enough of them, something's got to happen! She was lame two days ago but massaged her quarters with a new machine we have and it gradually improved."

On lightning-fast going the first five races produced course records and Crystal Crossing looked a filly with a future after she quickened two lengths clear of Omaha City in the Doncaster Bloodstock Sales Rose Bowl Stakes to lower Bright Crocus's 14-year-old mark for juveniles over six furlongs. The daughter of Royal Academy, whose owner Robert Sangster has won previous runnings with good horses like Rodrigo De Triano, State Performer and Polaris Flight, has the Cheveley Park Stakes pencilled in.