Racing: Silver Patriarch shines freely

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The Independent Online
THE NEW world order was visible at Newbury yesterday, but a tried and tested partnership was in the sharpest focus. In the Geoffrey Freer Stakes interest was centred on Craigsteel, representing a definite new premiership team for next season with the pairing of Henry Cecil and Richard Quinn, and on Blueprint, the joining of forces of a likely one in Michael Stoute and Kieren Fallon. But it was Pat Eddery and his old mucker Silver Patriarch who gained the day in the Group Two race.

It was a close-run thing for the gallant five-year-old, both on the track and in the stewards' room afterwards. After a steady early pace, reluctantly set by Quinn, the tempo quickened three furlongs out and Eddery found himself stuck behind the leader on the rails. As he began to extricate Silver Patriarch, Fallon began to ask Blueprint for an effort on the outside and, for a stride, the other runner Sadian - like Silver Patriarch a John Dunlop inmate - became the filling in a mobile sandwich.

Once clear, Peter Winfield's durable and versatile grey, runner-up in the Derby two years ago and winner of the St Leger and more recently fourth in the King George, readily caught Craigsteel and repelled the younger horse's late rally by a short-looking half-length. An inquiry was inevitable but any interference was judged marginal and the popular result rightly needed no amendment.

Winfield, 72, broke a holiday to get to Berkshire to see his favourite horse, who will next tackle the Irish St Leger.

Another home-bred, Princess Ellen, took the afternoon's other race with pretentions to class, the Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket. The Tirol filly, who carries the colours of Bob and Sue Thomas, defended her unbeaten record with a comprehensive two and a half length defeat under Gary Stevens of Eurolink Raindance and the uneasy favourite Dignify, over from Godolphin's nursery at Evry.

Although the seven-furlong race, named after one of Newmarket's dual wartime Classic heroines, sometimes produces a decent performer - Moon Cactus and Bint Salsabil have won in the past decade - it is not normally a guide to future Classic form. But Princess Ellen, whose owners turned down a substantial offer for her after her debut win at Ascot last month, was barely off the bridle and, as a big, rangy type, has the scope to improve substantially.

Her performance underlined the strength of the two-year-old fillies in Peter Chapple-Hyam's care this year. She was quoted at around 25-1 yesterday for next year's 1,000 Guineas; her Manton stablemate Saintly Speech remains 16-1 favourite.

Bizarrely, the original Wilfrid from which the Great St Wilfrid Handicap takes its name, is responsible for next year's problems with the racing calendar. The lateness of Easter next year has caused havoc with the fixture list and the man to blame is Wilfrid, first abbot of the monastery of Ripon, who succeeded in getting the English church in line with the rest of Western Christianity at the Synod of Whitby in 664.

Yesterday's running of the six-furlong sprint named in honour of the free-thinking prelate went by the narrowest of margins to Pipalong, forced home in the last stride to beat Bon Ami. Her victory justified the decision by trainer Tim Easterby to direct her to Ripon rather than York, where she had the option of Thursday's Nunthorpe Stakes. The champion sprinter- elect Stravinsky, whose powers were finally revealed by a devastating demolition of his rivals in the July Cup, heads yesterday's 16 five-day entries for the five-furlong contest, one of three Group One races at this week's meeting.

The first of the top-level contests is Tuesday's Juddmonte International, which marks the reappearance of the Dubai World Cup winner Almutawakel. However, the 10-furlong race is regarded as a mere stepping stone by the Godolphin team en route to is primary target, the Breeders' Cup Classic.

And despite the tremendous current form of the bearers of the blue silks he will be fully tested by the likes of Royal Anthem, Greek Dance and the Eclipse Stakes winner Compton Admiral.

The top fillies are in action on Wednesday when the Yorkshire Oaks clash between Epsom heroine Ramruma and her vastly-improved runner-up Noushkey, whose Michael Jarvis stablemate Alrassaam was just touched off by Val Royal at Deauville yesterday, may provide the duel of the week.

Providing, of course, that does not come at the French seaside track today, when Dubai Millennium is the Godolphin chosen one to test the might of local ace Sendawar, Europe's best three-year-old miler, in the Prix Jacques le Marois.

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