A furlong out, the jockey faced the problems of a seamstress as he saw the narrowest of passages through which to thread Soviet Line. The partnership slid audaciously between Maroof and Eurolink Thunder, but a swerve from the latter suggested that Swinburn's victory flourish of the hand as he passed the post could be premature.
When he went in front of the stewards, the rider found, to his astonishment, that the camera appeared to show that he indeed had barged Eurolink Thunder to secure a corridor. 'It definitely looks on film as if he nudged the other horse,' he said during a break in proceedings, 'but I promise you there was no contact.'
At this stage Swinburn thought his evidence (he would have said a double- decker bus could have got through the gap, while his fellow witnesses would have ventured there was not enough space for a double-decker sandwich) was to be dismissed.
The rider emerged from the stewards' room and sliced his finger across his throat, reporting that he would lose the case. The reputation of jockeys being the sport's worst tipsters saw him through, however, and the stablemate of tomorrow's St Leger fancy Sacrament kept the race.
Sacrament was in fact pushed out in the market yesterday by both Coral and William Hill following reports that the morning gallop of this poor home worker had been particularly lethargic. Michael Stoute, the colt's trainer, was not unduly perturbed by what he saw, however. 'He's never a very impressive horse at home,' he said. 'He's lazy and he wasn't very happy doing a four-furlong sprint this morning, but we're happy with the condition of the horse.'
Another Classic pointer of sorts came when the durable handicapper Quick Ransom ran perhaps the best race of his life to chase home Arcadian Heights in the Doncaster Cup. Much has been made in recent days of a gallop at Middleham in which Quick Ransom provided stiff competition for his stablemate Double Trigger, Mark Johnston's St Leger aspirant. 'He tried to give Quick Ransom three lengths on the gallops and could not get past him,' Johnston said. 'But now we know it was a six-year-old Group horse he was up against.'
Quick Ransom runs next at Ascot's Festival meeting and may then go into quarantine for the Melbourne Cup, for which connections consider the gelding well handicapped. He is a 25-1 chance for Flemington with Coral.
Arcadian Heights is almost certainly finished for the year, though he will be back next season now that his propensity for taking chunks out of anything with a pulse has gone.
Lanfranco Dettori set a pace on Arcadian Heights comparable to the day's Arab race and when they came into the straight with the gelding's tail angled as if something for the roses was about to be produced, swift capitulation seemed imminent. But Arcadian Heights cranked up the momentum and still had reserves as the post disappeared behind him. 'I'm more tired than he is,' Dettori said.
This was a second victory for enterprise following Mamlakah's run from the front in the May Hill Stakes. Harry Thomson Jones, the filly's trainer, seemed unsure about what would be the winner's best trip next year, but was unequivocal about the prospects of Alami in this afternoon's Champagne Stakes. 'He would be some way in front of her at home,' he said. 'So he must run well tomorrow.'
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