RACING: Tamure on target for Champion

Gosden veers away from the Arc with one Longchamp winner but aims early for Epsom with another
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The Independent Online
ABritish Classic may be missing from his treasure chest, but John Gosden again suggested he is a man to reckon with when collecting Longchamp's main races yesterday.

The Newmarket trainer, who may still be checking his receipt from a shopping expedition to the Keeneland Sales, was on the mark via Lord Of Men, in the Group One Prix de la Salamandre, and Tamure, who just got the better of Peter Chapple-Hyam's Spectrum in the Prix du Prince d'Orange. If the pair are to meet again it is likely to be in the Champion Stakes rather than the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. "The options are the Arc or the Champion Stakes, but in my heart I think it will be the Champion," Gosden said.

Lord Of Men's victory in the Prix de la Salamandre was perhaps more praiseworthy as the French think as much of this race as they do of their culinary capabilities. It was Britain's first success in the event since John De Coombe triumphed for Paul Cole in 1977. The Group One contest may have been a precursor for Epsom next June. "I see this colt more as a Derby than a Guineas horse," Gosden said.

A reminder that the Breeders' Cup is under six weeks away came when Belmont Park (which stages the series this year) played host to several of North America's top horses over the weekend. The main race, the Man O' War Stakes, went to Millkom, who was having his last race for Jean-Claude Rouget before moving Stateside to Rodney Rash.

The colt has been bought by Gary Tanaka, who has no time for the romantic notion that true owning achievement is to breed and gently raise a horse towards greatness. Tanaka splashes out substantially to buy proven animals (he has stubs in his cheque book for User Friendly and Colonel Collins among others), but insists this is a more sensible option than speculating on yearlings.

Millkom certainly helped him voice this theory with more conviction, earning over pounds 150,000 as he beat off John Hammond's Kaldounevees. King's Theatre, last year's King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner and Derby runner-up, was seventh, again suggesting he left his ability behind in Newmarket when he was transferred to Bill Mott's stable.

Another significant event was the Woodward Stakes, which represented better fortune for Mott as Cigar strode to his 10th consecutive victory. The colt's success will have done little to settle the stomachs of those who have backed Halling to wrest the Breeders' Cup Classic from America's outstanding racehorse.

In recent weeks there have been tales of serious punters tripping off to Las Vegas to secure monster odds about Halling, who has reportedly been backed in from 25-1 to 5-2 second favouritism. The men who moved the market have been giggling about their audacity in much the same way as schoolboys behind the bikesheds, but two factors should be remembered here. First, the story of this punting journey to Nevada seems to be replayed annually and while decent odds are often secured, a subsequent win never seems to transpire. The crux of this sting seems to be that the bookmakers on the Strip are as naive as a basketful of puppies. The image is hard to believe.

The training joy of the weekend, 18 years after John De Coombe, belonged to Cole, despite the fact that he was in need of cold flannels after a scouting trip to the Keeneland Sales. The trainer supervised the humbling of Kuantan behind Kahir Almaydan (many people's idea of a champion sprinter next season) at Newbury, but his Strategic Choice and Posidonas gobbled up the Group One double of the Irish St Leger and Gran Premio d'Italia respectively.

At the other end of the emotional scale, Henry Cecil will not be doing much skipping through his yard this morning. The Newmarket trainer has learned that his promising juvenile Mark Of Esteem, who is as low as 20- 1 for next year's Derby, will be joining another Warren Place animal, Allied Forces, on the caravan to Dubai this winter.

The thoughts of Cecil, who lost Moonshell, Vettori and Classic Cliche to the desert before they won Classics this season, have not been recorded, but it is unlikely to have been as cheerful as "well, that's the owner's prerogative isn't it".

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