Racing: Win takes Hannon to brink of century

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The Independent Online
TITLES mean much in racing, both on and off the racecourse, but yesterday, at Goodwood, Needle Gun held on to one of the least meritorious. That of the best maiden in training, writes Richard Edmondson.

Clive Brittain's colt, who has been runner-up to three Classic winners in Commander In Chief, White Muzzle and Kingmambo, could finish only fifth to Right Win in the Gordon Stakes.

'Pat (Eddery) said the horse lost his balance down the hill and there was no point chasing a lost cause after that,' Brittain reported. 'Perhaps the horse knew it wasn't a Group One race.'

There were those who doubted the merit of Right Win's last performance when second at Ascot to a podgy White Muzzle, but Richard Hannon, the horse's trainer, was not among them. 'Everyone wrote it off as a fluke in the Churchill Stakes when we gave White Muzzle 2lb and almost beat him,' he said. 'But this horse has been flying at home and we got the rain that makes all the difference.'

John Reid, the winning jockey, added: 'I think, with cut in the ground, a mile and a half is about his ideal distance, but I don't see why he couldn't go further.'

Hannon, who was recording his 99th win of the season, concurs with this view, and now has York's Great Voltigeur Stakes in his sights followed by an attempt on the Irish St Leger. Shareek, yesterday's runner-up, is also likely to take in the Voltigeur before going for the Leger at Doncaster.

The day's other main race, the Oak Tree Stakes, went to a less productive source when Moon Over Miami scored at 33-1 for Charlie James's 15-horse yard at East Garston in Berkshire.

'This is the second best horse I have trained after Alcando (the 1989 Prix de Psyche winner) and she is tough and wonderfully game,' the trainer said.

Moon Over Miami's win was a reminder that another version of the sport is just about to return and that times are not always so sweet for the smaller stables.

'Her lead horse is in a seller over jumps at Exeter on Wednesday week,' James said. 'He has run four times and got rid of his jockey on three occasions.'