After a treble at the track the previous day, Kieren Fallon won two more races at Salisbury yesterday, including the one Group Three prize that decorates the calendar of this deservedly popular venue. It says much about the skewed prize-money structure of British racing that Sea Lord should step up in class to win around £60,000 less than he did in a valuable handicap at Goodwood a fortnight ago. Instead, the more demanding nature of his assignment could be measured by the desperate margin of his success in the Totesport Sovereign Stakes, all out to thwart Poet's Voice in a photo.
By rallying from the front, Sea Lord conformed to the indomitable type established by so many of the better horses trained by Mark Johnston. By showcasing the excellent form of his rider, however, he also reiterated how very fertile an alliance this might be. For years we have seen Fallon's mounts come off the bridle, only to find extra reserves as he goes through the gears, and that style would certainly play to the strengths of many Johnston horses. Whether these very different men could ever achieve corresponding personal harmony is hard to know, but greater backing from the most prolific yard in the land could yet revive Fallon's aspirations to win a seventh championship some day.
Sea Lord was saddled by Johnston's wife, Deirdre, who emphasised that they feel privileged already to call upon the services of riders such as Joe Fanning, Greg Fairley and Royston Ffrench. But they have so many runners, up and down the land, that they were glad to be able to enlist the likes of Fallon and Frankie Dettori as well. Be that as it may, none can match Fallon's strike rate from such chances as he has had so far, now up to seven winners from 17 mounts.
Though there were several runners bunching behind at the line, the return to form of Poet's Voice warrants due respect. He looked a top prospect at two but had been failing to settle. Switched off at the rear by Ted Durcan, this time he was able to conserve the energy for a striking turn of foot, and failed by just a nose.
Fallon, whose mainstay since his return has been Luca Cumani, had earlier won a handicap for the Newmarket trainer in another desperate finish on Aktia. He hopes the partnership can keep up their good run tomorrow week when he rides Summit Surge in the Arlington Million.
Impressive as Fallon has been this summer, now up to 77 winners and fourth in the championship, the title race remains dominated by Paul Hanagan, who rode his 121st winner of the campaign at Beverley yesterday, taking him a dozen clear of Richard Hughes. Ryan Moore, the defending champion, remains marooned on 103 as he attempts to recuperate from the badly bruised wrist he suffered at Windsor on Monday. Moore intends to ride out on Saturday but will not return to the racecourse before Monday, the eve of the Ebor meeting at York.
Hughes will, meanwhile, be hoping that his guvnor, Richard Hannon, can keep up his relentless run of juvenile winners – one of which, Casual Glimpse, was yesterday supplemented to the field for the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes at York on Wednesday, at a cost of £13,000. This colt, impressive at the Newmarket July Festival, could meet the unbeaten Temple Meads among others.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Sea Of Galilee (4.05 Nottingham) Form of her impressive maiden success over course and distance has worked out well, suggesting that she starts life in handicaps on a fair mark – quite apart from the further improvement expected on only her third start.
Supreme Spirit (2.55 Nottingham) Ultimately brushed aside on her handicap debut at Haydock but only after cruising into the lead, and the winner has followed up since.
One to watch
Spensley (J R Fanshawe) Remains lightly raced at four and gave a start to the pair who beat him in a sprint finish at Leicester the other day, then was hampered as he closed them down.
Where the money's going
Overturn, already winner of the Northumberland Plate and Galway Hurdle this summer, is 13-2 from 9-1 with the sponsors for the Totesport Ebor at York next week.