Racing: Roberts consolidates his position of power

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The Independent Online
PAT EDDERY lists hunting as his principal recreation, but the champion jockey must feel that he has exchanged the pursuit of the uneatable for the pursuit of the unbeatable, writes Greg Wood.

Eddery was unplaced on his sole ride at Windsor yesterday, and could only watch as Michael Roberts rode a treble on Carousel Music, True Story and Shuailaan to reach 150 winners for the season and stretch his lead at the top of the jockeys' table to 25. Roberts extended his advantage by one at Leicester's evening meeting where Eddery was beaten on a 4-11 shot in a three-horse race. Most layers have now snapped shut their books on the destination of the title, and Roberts, though far from complacent, appreciates the strength of his position.

'It's going to be difficult for Pat to close the gap, especially as the evening meetings are coming to an end,' Roberts said. 'There's still quite a way to go, but barring accidents and making sure I steer clear of the stewards, everything is looking good.'

Eddery's regular absences from the domestic circuit thanks to his retainer with Khalid Abdullah have given Roberts a considerable advantage to date, and the pattern will be continuing this week. 'He's my main retainer so I go where he wants,' Eddery said. 'It won't do my title chances much good, but there's still a long way to go and, who knows, Michael might fall off and break a leg.'

Eddery did have the satisfaction of seeing Roberts work hard for two of his three Windsor winners, first on Carousel Music in the opener, and finally on Shuailaan in the closing graduation race. The latter, sent off the 4-9 favourite, only just scrambled home from Reported and Mougins, and the high expectations held for him at the start of the season may have been misplaced.

The future may be brighter for Realities. Guy Harwood's juvenile followed up his easy debut win at Sandown with a head defeat of another 4-9 favourite, Firm Pledge.