Midday strikes again for Nassau hat-trick
Mare follows in stablemate Frankel's hoofprints with Group One victory but former champion Ryan Moore's season is over
Sunday 31 July 2011
Admiration of females is, this weekend, quite rightly confined to the ones that matter most on any racetrack – the ones that put in the sweat and miles between the running rails, not those who prance and preen without. Here yesterday the five-year-old Midday won an unprecedented third Nassau Stakes, the domestic programme's top 10-furlong contest for her sex. And this afternoon at Deauville the peerless six-year-old Goldikova goes for a four-timer in one of the top-level races she has made her own, the Prix Rothshchild.
Midday, whose change of gear a quarter of a mile out took her two lengths clear of her old rival Snow Fairy, rounded off an excellent week for her trainer, Sir Henry Cecil, and rider, Tom Queally. Though the pair did not take the meeting's individual honours – the titles went to Richard Hannon and Richard Hughes – the elite bragging rights were theirs, with the glory of both the meeting's Group One prizes. Midday, of course, followed Frankel in Wednesday's Sussex Stakes, both in the colours of Khalid Abdullah.
Cecil was typically self-effacing after yesterday's race, which produced two landmarks for him.He has now won eight Nassau Stakes, one better than Alec Taylor (between 1909 and 1927) and Sir Michael Stoute. And it took him to the top of the current trainers' leaderboard at the fixture over the years, one ahead of his Newmarket neighbour and rival.
"Good horses make goodtrainers," he said. "If I had bad horsesthen I'd be judged as a bad trainer, but if you have good ones, then everything is marvellous. It may hurt to know it, but it's the truth."
Cecil has revealed a particular facility with fillies, and Midday has been a particular testament to his skill; she is a heavy-shouldered individual who has required a light approach throughout her career, which has now yielded six victories at the highest level. Her latest was arguably made easier by the absence because of too-firm ground of Misty For Me, who had trounced her on soft going in Ireland last month, but was one of her smoothest. "She travelled well the whole way," said Queally, "and it makes it easy when you're on the best horse and can chose when to go." The next target pencilled in for Midday is a repeat in next month's Yorkshire Oaks. "We'll see how she is," added Cecil. "She'll tell us when she's ready, we won't tell her."
For all her excellence, the daughterof Oasis Dream has some way to go to match Europe's best mare, Goldi-kova, who has seven rivals in her bid for an extraordinary 14th GroupOne prize this afternoon, including Midday's stablemate Timepiece.
The week's most valuable handicap, the Stewards' Cup, went to the 13-2 joint favourite Hoof It, whose owners are involved in the other sport which relies on a handicap system at its lower levels. The four-year-old gelding, who gave the veteran Yorkshire trainer Mick Easterby his first success in the six-furlong dash, carriesthe colours of Lee Westwood and his manager, Chubby Chandler.
Like Westwood, en route yesterday to the States to prepare for the USPGA Championship, Hoof It will soon be plying his trade in majors. He won yesterday by a clear two-and-a-half lengths, despite top weight and an unfavourable draw, and it took Kieren Fallon nearly a furlong to pull him up after he stormed away from Tax Free. Group One races now beckon.
But the meeting's eponymous tag had only qualified use yesterday. Yes, there was that top-level triumph for the much-loved Cecil and the emergence of a new sprinting talent. But it also brought a premature end to the season for top jockey Ryan Moore, who broke an upper arm and a thumb in a pile-up that also claimed the life of one of the horses involved.
Moore, who had been battling Paul Hanagan and Sylvestre de Souza for a fourth jockeys' championship, was injured when his mount Verdant crashed to the ground as Captain John Nixon broke down fatally while leading the field into the straight in the mile-and-three-quarter handicap, impeding those behind as he staggered and slowed. Jamie Spencer, also brought down on Activate, escaped with a shaking.
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