Kirthill can claim Mohican scalp on last day of the Flat

Cumani handicapper seeks to stop Frankel's former workmate while rising chaser Flemenstar embarks on Gold Cup trail

The final day of another Flat season provides an opportune cue to rebuke anyone still peddling the obsolete axiom that there is greater romance and diversity over jumps. Nowadays, all the best jumpers are corralled in the same few hands. Last weekend, press box colleagues at the Breeders' Cup exchanged virtually identical bulletins from back home: Paul Nicholls had mopped up big races at Wetherby and Down Royal, with Silviniaco Conti, Tidal Bay, Kauto Stone and Cristal Bonus; Nicky Henderson had meanwhile saddled four winners at Ascot, just as he had on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival itself last season. In Ireland, meanwhile, other trainers have been nervously pilfering races while they wait for Willie Mullins to release his cavalry for the winter.

In contrast, a series of heart-warming stories played out down below at Santa Anita. After Fort Larned won the Classic, a delirious figure could be seen bounding out of the stands to embrace his trainer, Ian Wilkes. It was Charles Lopresti, who had won a vintage Mile less than an hour earlier, with Wise Dan. Buff Bradley, completing the triumvirate of "Little Guys" from Kentucky, had already saddled Groupie Doll to win the Filly and Mare Sprint. Bradley delivered her himself, as a foal, on a farm built upon the enterprise of his father, Fred. As a 10-year-old boy, Fred set out by buying a coal-cart mule for $3; he broke it for riding, and sold it for $5; now he watched from his wheelchair, a proud octogenarian, as Groupie Doll careered home by four and a half lengths.

Wise Dan, a beautiful chestnut, then proceeded to show that Frankel was not unique in being able to box the ears of Excelebration; while the runner-up, Animal Kingdom, hinted at the rewards available to those who campaign top horses with due adventure. Last year's Kentucky Derby winner had switched surface and dropped in trip, only to get caught in traffic before bursting through late. He will now go to the Dubai World Cup, and possibly Royal Ascot.

So much for the predictable hegemonies of Flat racing. How very edifying, then, that top billing this weekend should be reserved for Peter Casey – a former sheep shearer who has somehow not only ended up with a potential champion steeplechaser in his tiny stable, just up the coast from Dublin, but has been further blessed with a patron equal to all those predatory bloodstock agents.

It was Flemenstar who prompted a notoriously lascivious exclamation from his septuagenarian trainer, live on television, after a runaway Grade One success at Leopardstown in January. Casey believes that Flemenstar can last the extra distance of the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, but starts him off back at two miles at Navan tomorrow against a veteran specialist at that trip, Big Zeb.

The final Flat racing on turf this year comprises a marathon card at Doncaster, already under way before noon. It seems fitting that the Betfred November Handicap, its last big pot, should revolve around an unbeaten stablemate of the champion who bestrode the whole campaign. Moreover it has been claimed First Mohican, in their younger days, worked better with Frankel than any other horse. Unfortunately, he then disappeared for almost two years, but has proved miles ahead of his rating in two handicaps since his return. At the odds, however, you have to remember he has been raised another 12lb and tries a new trip in a tougher grade. Luca Cumani's Kirthill (2.35) looks better value, having produced a career best on his only start at this distance and shaped well in traffic since.

Some thriving sprinters converge for a last crack at a Listed prize – notably Jack Dexter, who has beaten an aggregate of 67 rivals in handicaps over six, seven and five furlongs this autumn. But Ultrasonic is also on the upgrade, and any punter loyal to last year's winner will be rewarded with a fair price against the quirky but talented Sirius Prospect (3.10).

Well Painted (3.45) caught the eye behind Jack Dexter last time and looks as though already on reconnaissance for the Lincoln, back here next spring, while Sajjhaa (2.00) introduces a touch of class to the other televised race.

Channel 4 also has cameras at Wincanton, where Nicholls has a predictably strong hand. Nonetheless, two other respected yards could thwart the champion trainer with Balder Succes (2.50) and Zarrafakt (3.25).

Turf account

Chris McGrath'S Nap

Sajjhaa (2.00 Doncaster)

Next Best

Oscar Stanley (3.15 Kelso)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most