Racing: Wonderful day marred by whips

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The Independent Online
"THERE'S YOUR winner, for certain," said a journalist (who would prefer to remain nameless) as the judge studied the three-way photograph after the International Stakes here yesterday. He was pointing squarely at Frankie Dettori, in the royal blue silks of Faithful Son, and if he was slightly embarrassed when One So Wonderful was named the winner just a second later, he was at least in good company.

Luca Cumani, the winner's trainer, is not an optimist by nature, but he felt that he had every right to look on the dark side after a merciless battle to the post. "I saw the freeze-frame and Faithful Son's bottom seemed to be a long way in front of her bottom," Cumani said. It was only when the result had been announced that "I remembered she is quite a long filly".

Long, and brave. Anyone offering odds half a furlong from home would have made her the outsider of three, as Chester House and Kieren Fallon challenged on the outside of Faithful Son, but it was One So Wonderful, against the rail, who stayed on under Pat Eddery to win on the nod. It was no surprise that the riders of the first three horses home were later punished by the stewards. Eddery was banned for eight days, for using his whip with excessive force and frequency. Dettori was banned for four days for excessive frequency with the whip, while Kieren Fallon, who rode third-placed Chester House, was given a three-day ban for whipping with excessive frequency and hitting his mount down the shoulder in the forehand position.

Eddery's effort may prove to have left its mark when One So Wonderful returns to the track. Not, of course, that she has much left to prove, having now won five of her six starts. A poor run at Sandown three months ago is the only blemish and the difficult decision to keep her in training at four turns out to have been the right one.

Another year in training, though, might be asking too much. "The owner will be keen for her to start having babies," Cumani said, "and while I would love to keep her, I'd also like to have some of her babies."

Dettori may have been nosed out in the International, but his progress was more serene in the Great Voltigeur Stakes, half a hour later. Sea Wave, another runner in Godolphin blue, strolled away from his field to win by four lengths, but such is the strength of his stable that while the St Leger at Doncaster next month is an obvious target, he might run as the second-string. Nedawi is Godolphin's other prime candidate for the final Classic, but with doubts over running plans, the bookmakers would not offer Leger prices on either. Sea Wave, however, is a 14-1 chance with Coral for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Cheltenham, rather than Paris, would seem a more logical target for Persian Punch, the winner of the Lonsdale Stakes, and one of the most magnificent specimens of horseflesh to enter a starting stall. He was surely born to jump and, in David Elsworth, could hardly have a better trainer should Jeff Smith, his owner, decide to risk the gelding over hurdles.

Indeed, Elsworth admits he has been unable to resist the temptation to set him at a hurdle or two at home. "He acquitted himself very well," Elsworth said. But, the trainer added, the plan could be to aim first at the Melbourne Cup.

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