Only Double Trigger himself could have been oblivious to the anticipation in the air as the stalls opened and Darryll Holland chased him into his familiar position at the head of his field. He dared his opponents to pass him for almost a circuit of Town Moor, and by the time they turned in with half a mile to race, it was already clear that most of them could not muster the energy to do so.
One jockey, though, was still sitting motionless and making ground on the bridle. Three out, the dark shape of Busy Flight and Michael Hills started to cruise up the inside rail, and soon he looked to have the race at his mercy. But he was about to discover, like so many before him, that reaching Double Trigger's quarters is one thing, and getting past his nose quite another.
Before the race, Double Trigger had drifted in the market, from 6-4 out to 9-4, as punters decided that it would be tempting fate to back him. Now, though, they roared him on like the gamble of of the season, and Hills was shaking his reins at a beaten horse. Ten seconds later, the only race which mattered was the dash to the winners' enclosure to welcome "Trigger" back.
"This tells us that stayers are important," Johnston, his trainer, said. "Over two miles at his best, Double Trigger is one of the best there has been. Early in the season, I felt he was going downhill and it was not good to watch him. I even wondered if I wanted to see him run any more, but there were signs of better things before the Ascot Gold Cup and since then he has become more and more special as the year has gone on."
Double Trigger will now retire to stud after a final attempt to win the Prix du Cadran at Longchamp next month, a race in which he has twice run poorly. "This has got to be his year in the Cadran, surely," Johnston said. "He has never fired in the race and I don't know why, but Darryll will just ride him as it comes and we are hoping he will go out on a high."
Foreign travel is also a possibility for Calando, the winner of the May Hill Stakes, whose connections are considering a run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in Kentucky on 7 November. It is an ambitious plan, but Calando is improving rapidly and has the talent to match her impeccable bloodlines (she is a daughter of Diminuendo, the 1988 Oaks winner). She would have a serious chance at Churchill Downs.
Calando completed a Group double for Lanfranco Dettori, who had already taken the Park Stakes on Handsome Ridge. The colt is owned by David Platt, the former England footballer, who was so excited by the victory that he insisted on talking to Dettori as he was led back to the winners' enclosure.
The problem was that Platt was in Sardinia on business, forcing the jockey to talk him through the race with the reins in one hand and a mobile phone in the other. This did not meet with the approval of the stewards, who took Dettori to one side afterwards and advised him that in future he should wait until he has dismounted before accepting any calls.
"I suppose they have a point," Dettori said, "because you don't see footballers on the phone while they are on the pitch." Unless, of course, they are playing for Manchester United, and checking on the value of their share options.Reuse content