Racing / Royal Ascot: Second blood to Elbio in King's Stand repeat: Makin's vintage sprinter shows a healthy return

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The Independent Online
GOOD BLOOD helps at Royal Ascot. It grants a select group of human beings access to the hallowed lawns and yesterday it eased a racehorse into the winners' enclosure when Elbio, ridden by Walter Swinburn, won his second King's Stand Stakes.

The corpuscle count in Elbio's veins has been unsatisfactory for much of this season, and it was only days ago that the horse's trainer, Peter Makin, saw the chart return to normal.

'He's really had his problems this year,' Makin said. 'He's pulled a muscle in his back, he's had an infection in a joint and his blood only came right for the first time this week.'

Such infirmity has not characterised the whole of Elbio's career, however, and yesterday represented his ninth win from 21 starts and the collection of well over pounds 300,000 in prize money.

A record such as this would normally have prospective purchasers in a lather, but Elbio's plebian origins have ensured he has gathered dust in racing's shop window. 'He's been on the market but one of the joys of the recession is that nobody has wanted him,' Makin said. 'He hasn't got a fashionable American pedigree.'

The Wiltshire trainer, who was recording his sixth winner at the Royal meeting, had had to find a new stable lad to rouse his horse in the mornings this season. Elbio's previous groom, Bob Chapman, so enjoyed the surroundings and hospitality of the horse's venture to the Breeders' Cup at Gulfstream Park last October that he tore up the return portion of his ticket.

Victories also yesterday for men who are not backed by financial mountains when Mick Channon's Great Deeds took the Windsor Castle Stakes and Nagida captured the Wokingham Stakes for James Toller.

Channon was suitably overwhelmed by his first Royal Ascot winner, and after hugging anything with a pulse in the winners' enclosure it would have come as no surprise to see him break out with the windmill celebration that greeted each goal when he was a footballer.

The trainer, though, was not prepared to compare the elation of his two careers. 'Racing is another part of my life,' he said. 'I've been a very fortunate lad to have played football, most of it at the top level, for 23 years and then go on to do something else that I enjoy as well.'

Great Deeds's victory was compensation for the defeat of the stable's Rohita in the Queen Mary Stakes on Wednesday (check), yet Channon still believes the latter to be the superior. 'There's only one filly,' he said. 'Rohita is like a class football player who you know is going to come good.'

Nagida, like Elbio before her, was almost invalided out of the meeting. 'We had a shoeing scare last night when there appeared to be a slight pulse in a joint,' Toller said. 'We poulticed her foot, put a new plate on and just hoped for the best.'

Nagida's was the biggest win of the Newmarket trainer's 13- year career and he said: 'She is more than we could ever have dreamed.'

Jeune made up for his defeat in last year's King Edward VII Stakes (a race his half-brother Beneficial won on Tuesday) when holding off Red Bishop in the Hardwicke Stakes. His trainer, Geoff Wragg, is in possession of racing's Kennedys, for as well as Jeune, who will next run in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and Beneficial, he also trains further progeny of the mare Youthful in Dorset Duke and the promising Rainbow Quest filly, Dreams. 'I've got them all,' he said.

In the King George, Jeune may meet White Muzzle, a runner at Ascot's Heath meeting today in the Churchill Stakes. Dopey programme planning means the movements of the Italian Derby winner, the most interesting horse on view nationwide, will not be broadcast live on television.

In his absence, perhaps the most captivating facet of the card will be to see if Reg Akehurst can continue his improvement of Green Lane (next best 2.30).

The Epsom man has forged a reputation, a la Martin Pipe, as a trainer who can improve horses arriving from other yards. Akehurst did it last season with Millsolin, who registered three consecutive victories after moving his bags from Albert Davison, and may also do the same with the formerly Mick Naughton-trained Green Lane, who is 9lb lower in the handicap than when he was second in this race last year.

Others to follow are Loch Patrick (3.00), Western Cape (3.35) and ZENITH (nap 2.00), who should be about to reach hers.

Nigel Day was suspended for four days by the Ascot stewards for excessive use of the whip on Jack Button, runner-up to Riszard in the Queen Alexandra Stakes.

(Photographs omitted)

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