Racing: Wisp regains will

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The Independent Online
THE JUMPING season may be in its death throes but figures from the winter game refuse to allow the Flat players onto the stage. A day after Tommy Stack, Red Rum's jockey, saddled Las Meninas to victory in the 1,000 Guineas, David Nicholson, the champion National Hunt trainer elect, sent out Silver Wisp to win Newmarket's Jockey Club Stakes, writes Richard Edmondson.

Two years ago, when trained by Geoff Lewis, Silver Wisp was third to Dr Devious in the Derby, but soon lost the knack of putting one hoof in front of the other quickly. A change in stable and codes followed. 'For a long time after he arrived, I could not get him right,' Nicholson said. 'But the day after we castrated him it was almost as if he said thank you.' Not many would.

The gelding runs in the colours of Bill and Shirley Robins, who have spent six years of ownership scurrying between peaks and troughs. This was yet another big-race win for them, but they have also lost quality beasts in Mighty Mogul and, earlier this month, Baydon Star.

Yesterday's other prestige race, the Newmarket Stakes, went, by some margin, to Alriffa, who confirmed he had recovered fully from a juvenile injury. 'He had a poisoned leg. It blew up like a lamppost,' Richard Hannon, his trainer, said.

But for one factor, Alriffa would now be a leading Derby contender. Hannon did not enter him. The road now leads to The Curragh or Chantilly.