Quest ends in heartbreak as stewards put Duty first

Seldom can a panel of racecourse stewards have felt so confident that its intervention would be warmly received. After all, the filly they were promoting to first place had been winter favourite for the Stan James 1,000 Guineas, and thwarted only in a photo finish by an unconsidered 66-1 shot, Jacqueline Quest. In the event, however, their verdict prompted a groan of dismay from many, and only the most sheepish of cheers from the reprieved backers of Special Duty.

Not that anyone had too much of an issue with their decision to reverse the placings. There had been so little between the two fillies at the line that Tom Queally's failure to switch his whip, as his mount drifted right, left the stewards with a relatively uncomplicated duty. Even so, they found themselves doomed to traditional Establishment caricature, as unsparingly immune to dreams and romance in individual lives.

For Jacqueline Quest is trained by Henry Cecil, a local hero long before various professional and personal misfortunes disclosed, as the foundation to a stirring revival in recent seasons, an unsuspected resilience. Moreover, as fewer will have been aware, the filly's owner has turned to horses for light in an excruciating darkness of his own.

Noel Martin has been confined to a wheelchair since 1996, following a racist attack by neo-Nazi thugs when he was working in Germany. His anguish since, in body and soul, has been uncomfortably vivid in press and media coverage. Poignantly, this filly was named after his wife, who died of cancer in 2000. In the circumstances, connections of Special Duty, being so familiar with success at this level, could hardly cherish the prize in quite the same way as Martin and Cecil, both of whom initially seemed fairly oblivious to the case against Queally.

Regardless, it was a famous weekend for the French, who were completing what is assumed to be an unprecedented Guineas double, following Mafki 24 hours earlier. Many pages of British Classic history must also be turned, meanwhile, to find the last winner relegated for interference: Nureyev, in the 2,000 Guineas 30 years ago. It is remarkable that both episodes should have taken place here, rather than over the notorious camber at Epsom.

These same, open spaces also produced a mysterious disparity in fortune for the small posse who raced along the stands' rail, and the rest in the middle of the track. As they emerged from the Dip it became apparent that the latter were hopelessly marooned, and Music Show and Rumoush both excelled in leading them home, fifth and sixth respectively; Kieren Fallon also complained that he had no chance out there on Seta, albeit she did not see out the race as hoped in 12th.

Instead it was Sent From Heaven who kept up the gallop on the rail, with Queally taking over approaching the furlong pole. Stéphane Pasquier, having restrained her to get the trip, then produced Special Duty on the outside. While he never had to stop riding, there was brief contact and William Nunnelly, representing the stewards, said that the desperate margin – "a pixel on the photograph" – left them with a straightforward decision. "It's unfortunate when things like this happen," he said. "But we have to administer the rules as we would in any race."

The rolling duel between the first two almost allowed an Investec Oaks prospect, Gile Na Greine, to claim the spoils on the rail. She was only beaten another head, half a length in front of Sent From Heaven, the four of them five lengths clear.

Special Duty had impressed on her first visit here, for the Cheveley Park Stakes last autumn, but was disappointing in her trial. Her renewed bloom reiterated the dexterity of her trainer, Criquette Head-Maarek, who was winning this race for the fourth time. "I don't like to win like that, and feel very sorry for the others," she said. "But Stéphane said she would have won without the other horse hanging. She's a great filly with a heart as big as herself."

She trained this filly for Prince Khaled Abdulla, himself Cecil's greatest mainstay through thick and thin. Serving another cause on this occasion, Cecil had to find words to console Martin. "Maybe we'll get our own back at Ascot," he said. "I didn't think she'd get the trip, and she's only just started to come to hand. All credit to Noel. It was his decision to run. I didn't think it would be her day."

Sadly, they were both right.

Chris McGrath's Nap

Queen Of Wands (5.40 Warwick) Starts life in handicaps off a modest mark and is bred to relish the extra distance here.



Next best

Moynahan (4.0 Kempton) Caught the eye going sweetly tried in cheekpieces over course and distance last time out.



One to watch

Wigmore Hall (M L W Bell) Turned over at odds-on at Newmarket on Saturday, when a small field and steady pace did not play to his strengths. There will be other days for him.



Where the money's going

Marie De Medici is 20-1 from 66-1 for the Investec Oaks with Ladbrokes.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
David Silva strokes home his and City's second goal
football
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
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: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas