Racing: Sunspangled enjoys her second wind

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THE REASONS why horses do not win races would fill a small library with a large fiction section. But Aidan O'Brien's explanation after Sunspangled avenged two previous defeats by Edabiya to win the Group One Fillies Mile here yesterday was a new one, though it owed nothing to the imagination.

The pretty chestnut had acted as a windbreak on her previous outing, when she led the Moyglare Stud Stakes field into the teeth of a gale at the Curragh three weeks ago. "She was out on her own being buffeted with the others sheltering behind her," said her trainer, "so of course she was tired at the end. But we knew why she'd finished only fifth, so we saw no reason not to take on the winner again and give her the chance to show how good she is."

This time it was Sunspangled's turn to take cover, and the change of tactics worked the oracle. Mick Kinane produced the daughter of Caerleon to tackle Edabiya well inside the final furlong and put her white-starred head in front in the last few strides.

A neck behind her, Calando finished strongly to nick second place from Edabiya by a short-head, and although close finishes are often perceived to be an indication of the ordinary that is surely not the case here as it was a full nine lengths back to fourth-placed Alabaq.

The time of the race, faster than the colt's equivalent, the Royal Lodge Stakes, an hour earlier, was very creditable considering the testing underfoot conditions and all three fillies are regarded as material for next year's Classics.

Sunspangled, one of the high-class bunch of juveniles who run from Ballydoyle for the Michael Tabor/John Magnier team, was only the second Irish-trained winner in 25 runnings of the Fillies' Mile, after Icing back in 1975. The Oaks is the obvious target for the stoutly-bred filly, a half-sister to ill-fated French Ballerina, but O'Brien warned: "She has plenty of speed and can quicken, and we'll be thinking of the Guineas too. She is a lovely filly with a lovely temperament."

Calando, bred by Sheikh Mohammed from his 1987 winner of the race, Diminuendo, was slightly chopped for room early in the straight and lost nothing (except the pounds 103,550 first prize) in defeat. An ambitious tilt at the juvenile fillies' race at the Breeders' Cup meeting at Churchill Downs in early November is still on the cards for the daughter of Storm Cat.

Her trainer, David Loder, who reported his Queen Elizabeth II Stakes hero Desert Prince in rude health yesterday after his exertions of Saturday, said: "It's a big plan but she was closing very fast and there is another 16th [of a furlong] in Kentucky, which could make all the difference."

Sheikh Mohammed had to be content with the runner-up spot in the Royal Lodge Stakes too after his brother Hamdan's Mutahaab worried Glamis out of the Group 2 prize by half a length, an exact replication of the form shown by the two colts when they met at Goodwood 17 days ago. Then, Mutahaab made all; this time he came from behind and showed great resolution to squeeze between Glamis and the fading favourite Desaru, who got rather bogged down in the ground, well inside the final furlong for his fourth victory from six outings.

But there was a two-year-old winner in the maroon and white in the shape of Mukhalif, who was not unduly pressed to beat the promising newcomer Zaajer in the opening seven-furlong conditions stakes and take his record to two from two. Mukhalif, another Caerleon offspring, will now begin his winter holiday in Dubai, leaving Loder stablemates such as Berlioz and Lujain to deal with the top autumn contests.

The winning performance of well-backed Silken Dalliance in the Mail on Sunday Mile Final was in sharp contrast to her efforts on her previous appearance, when she finished 17th of 19 at Newbury nine days ago after - according to her trainer Lord Huntingdon - sitting down in the stalls and missing the break.

The filly's apparent improvement in form was noted by the Ascot stewards, who will forward details to their counterparts at Jockey Club headquarters in London for further investigation.

RICHARD EDMONDSON

Nap: Steer Point

(Exeter 2.40)

NB: Sconced

(Hamilton 2.50)

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