Paco Boy outmanoeuvred in Paris

Hannon endures another overseas reverse as Hughes has to sit and suffer while Fuisse swoops in Moulin

Having divided nine of the past 10 titles between them, you suspect that not even Sir Michael Stoute or Aidan O'Brien would begrudge Richard Hannon a second trainers' championship to add to the one he won in 1992. Certainly, if the tide of goodwill among neutrals could be harnessed by his horses during the final two months of the season, Hannon would be past the post.

As it is, however, his challenge remains on a knife-edge. For one thing, the home fires have only been smouldering lately, with his strike rate dwindling to six winners from his last 114 starters. And yesterday he extended a series of overseas misadventures with an exasperating defeat for Paco Boy in Paris.

Hannon himself professes indifference about the idea of another championship to seal the unprecedented strength of his stable, in the evening of his career. It is precisely this lack of vanity that nourishes public affection, of course. Sure enough, the possibility of supplanting Stoute at the top of the table did not influence his deployment of Paco Boy, who was quoted among the favourites when given a surprise entry for the Betfred Sprint Trophy at Haydock on Saturday.

Yet again, however, Hannon has received zero reward for diverting to a foreign field one of the horses most competent to win domestic prize-money. Over the past month Strong Suit, Memory and Libranno have all lost an unbeaten record abroad. At least Paco Boy's failure in the Prix du Moulin, as hot favourite, did not especially compound anxiety about the stable's form.

Though only fourth of six, Paco Boy finished more or less on the bridle. It is possible, admittedly, that he was a spent force regardless. But it was not a ride calculated to soothe any hangovers chez Hannon, whose son, namesake and assistant had been married the previous evening. Settling Paco Boy behind the front-running Siyouni, Richard Hughes found himself short of options in the straight and ultimately gambled on a half-gap on the rail. It promptly closed, leaving him as a spectator of arguably the best Group One finish of the European season, Rio De La Plata just running down Siyouni in the shadow of the post, only to be collared in turn by a tremendous burst from Fuisse.

The winner is a big, brawny colt trained by Criquette Head-Maarek, who indicated that he may now bid to enhance France's excellent record in the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes at Newmarket next month. That would entail a return to 10 furlongs, over which distance he finished second in the Prix du Jockey-Club last year before disappearing with a back problem. Fuisse caused a lengthy delay before yesterday's race, getting loose twice, but his acceleration once reunited with Stéphane Pasquier implied new maturity and prowess.

If the race proved unhappy viewing for the Hannons, then it must have been worse still for the Godolphin team, so fleeting was the illusion of success for Rio De La Plata. Things did not improve later in the afternoon, either, Cavalryman again failing to retrieve the form he showed for André Fabre last year when only third at Baden-Baden.

In Paco Boy's absence, the big prize at Haydock was won by Markab, whose blossoming at the age of seven confirms Henry Candy an outstanding trainer of sprinters. Candy said yesterday Markab may be put away for next season.

Starspangledbanner seemed low on fuel, after being campaigned in two hemispheres, but O'Brien duly won both the other Group One races in his sights on Saturday, with Lillie Langtry and Cape Blanco. The latter seemed a revelation restored to 10 furlongs, over which distance he beat Workforce at York in May. In the meantime, of course, Workforce had run away with the Derby, and both horses had in turn been beaten out of sight behind Harbinger at Ascot. One way or another, this season has featured a series of runaway wins in championship races and one or two must surely be too good to be true.

In this instance, it seems possible that Rip Van Winkle was feeling the effects of a generous effort at York just 18 days previously. Regardless, O'Brien has heartening momentum as he appraises big international targets this autumn. Take Await The Dawn, one of four Ballydoyle winners on the Leopardstown card. After a recent return from an absence of nearly a year, his impressive Group Three success came on only the fourth start of his career. O'Brien, remember, also plans to give his sleeping giant, St Nicholas Abbey, a racecourse workout this weekend.

Perhaps the most intriguing footnote from Leopardstown, however, concerned a horse not seen since suffering an injury behind Sea The Stars on the equivalent day last year. Dermot Weld reports the 2008 Derby third has been gelded, is returning into training, and may yet try his luck over hurdles.

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap Isobar (4.10 Bath)

Bumped into a well-ridden, well-treated rival when stepped up in distance for his handicap debut at Folkestone, but pulled clear of the rest after travelling well and likely to enjoy a still longer trip today.



Next best Celestial Girl (4.40 Bath)

Had been flourishing prior to a disappointing effort last time, conceivably because of softer ground, but worth forgiving that lapse regardless as she steps up to a distance likely to suit her better again.



One to watch

Annedah (J H M Gosden) made a really encouraging start at Salisbury last week, trapped wide in a big field but closing very smoothly before running green, switching leads and staying on again late for second.

Where the money's going

Hitchens and Redford are both 16-1 from 20-1 with the sponsors for the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup on Saturday week.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
fashion
News
news
News
people
Travel
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
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

Upper KS2 Teacher

£120 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Upper Key Stage 2 teacher ...

English Teacher

£110 - £130 per day + ?110 - 130: Randstad Education Reading: English Teacher ...

KS2 Teacher with SEN responsibilities

£115 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Luton: KS2 teacher with SEN responsibi...

Administrative Assistant

£60 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Administrative Assitant Hertford...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments