Racing: Peeping Fawn shows the class to take on colts

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The Independent Online

There is probably a punter out there who stopped backing Peeping Fawn when she was beaten for the third time in a maiden at Gowran Park in April. To everyone else, however, her extraordinary progress since has become one of the defining delights of the season. Yesterday she won her fourth Group One prize, the Darley Yorkshire Oaks, in eight weeks, and it is now imperative for her to meet the colts.

Perhaps the only other filly of her generation that might still give her a race is her American cousin, Rags To Riches, the first in a century to win the Belmont Stakes. They share the same grand-dam, and the colours of Michael Tabor, but operate on different surfaces. On turf, it is high time Peeping Fawn picked on rivals her own size. Her masculine constitution, of course, is only one reason for her phenomenal improvement. It is no coincidence that she is trained by the same man who gave us Giant's Causeway, and even this year there have been other, rather less outrageous examples of his stable's work ethic. Yellowstone, for instance, looked better than ever in his eighth Group race of the season on Tuesday.

Other trainers must have grimaced when Aidan O'Brien declared: "It's hard to get out of that second spot." He had saddled five consecutive runners-up since Septimus won the previous day. But Peeping Fawn broke that sequence at her leisure, coasting four lengths clear of Allegretto, herself five clear of the rest. Johnny Murtagh told O'Brien that the filly, granted the easy conditions of the previous day, would have given Authorized even more to do than even Dylan Thomas. Soft ground could well see her replace that colt in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, for which she is now 10-1 with Coral.

The stable's two seconds yesterday, Honolulu and Great Barrier Reef, were both lacking experience but have a big future. In chasing home Purple Moon in the Totesport Ebor Handicap, Honolulu posted a far more convincing trial for the Ladbrokes St Leger than any of his four stablemates in the Great Voltigeur Stakes on Tuesday. He is 7-1 for Doncaster with the sponsors, who still prefer Aqaleem on 7-2, Mahler on 4-1, and Lucarno on 5-1.

The heavily backed Purple Moon sealed a grotesque result for the bookmakers, being followed home by the next three in the betting. This was the horse who infamously cost his new owner 440,000 guineas to go jumping, but this return to his original vocation could yet make that look reasonable value, as Luca Cumani may now train him for the Melbourne Cup.

Jamie Spencer, his rider, had also won the Ireland Gimcrack Stakes on Sir Gerry, pouncing from last to collar Great Barrier Reef, who showed enormous potential on his debut. After riding him on the gallops, Spencer told James Fanshawe that Sir Gerry was the best juvenile he had ridden. "I've worked him with 110-rated four-year-olds, and he has followed them on the bridle and picked them up," he confirmed.

"He was a bit unlucky last time out, but Oscar Urbina, being the team player he is, looked after the horse. He didn't hit him and it's paid dividends."

Chris McGrath

Nap: Racer Forever

(York 3.50)

NB: The Illies

(York 2.35)

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