Rags-to-riches Sirvino lands beer money

Canny trainer David Barron paid just £3,000 for the gelding who lands a nap-hand of victories, and £97,000, in John Smith's Handicap at York
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The Independent Online

To win five handicaps in a row is difficult enough; to bring up the nap hand in one of the season's most competitive and valuable contests smacks of talent out of the ordinary, in terms of both planning and execution. As far as trainer David Barron is concerned, the form on the first score has long been in the book; his Sirvino added his own, newer entry yesterday by powering home in with the John Smith's Cup at York.

The four-year-old has risen nearly two stone in ranks since winning for the first time on his seasonal debut at Beverley in April and the manner of his latest success suggested that he is not finished yet. With apprentice Neil Brown in the saddle, the 16-1 shot picked off trailblazing Kingdom Of Fife inside the final furlong and won, going away, by two and three-quarter lengths.

Thirsk-based Barron, 63, has not been entirely unaware of his angel of the north's potential, developed after Beverley at Musselburgh, Ripon and Ayr. "We had to find places he could win at, to get him up the handicap to get into a race like this," he said. "I'd like to think there could quite easily be more to come. He looked quite good in the finish, didn't he?"

Indeed he did. Kingdom Of Fife, well-backed and well-ridden, had most of his rivals in trouble halfway up the straight in the 10-furlong contest, but Sirvino ran him down with some ease. It was the first time Brown had ridden the son of Vettori in public – his regular jockey Phil Makin was suspended – but he knows him well at home.

"I thought when we got to the leader's girths, he might go again," he said, "but he didn't and my lad just kept going. He was weak and gangly as a two-year-old and three-year-old, but this year he's just got better with every run. And he is just so straightforward to ride. He's a gentleman."

It was Sirvino's attitude that first attracted Barron. "He cost only £3,000 as a yearling," he said, "but what struck me when we looked at him at the sales was that he just did everything right and was unflappable."

Yesterday's victory brought the gelding's earnings to nearly £120,000 – £97,000 of that coming yesterday.

A classier, but more complicated, four-year-old, Aqlaam, took another career step foward at Ascot by taking the Group Two Summer Mile.

For trainer William Haggas, it has been softly, softly with the Oasis Dream colt, who fractured his pelvis in winning last year's Jersey Stakes. A good third in the Queen Anne Stakes back at the Royal meeting last month showed the mettle was still there and the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville beckons after yesterday's gutsy defeat of Confront and Imbongi.

This afternoon at the Curragh, the Oaks heroine Sariska faces a rematch with Epsom runner-up Midday in the Irish version of the Classic. Sariska's trainer Michael Bell has his horses in flying form but none of yesterday's three-from-three successes will have given him more pleasure than that of Lombok in an ordinary handicap at Nottingham.

The three-year-old was ridden by Hayley Turner, making a point on only her second mount after successfully challenging the authorities' ruling that she could not ride for a year after suffering head injuries in a fall in March. Ironically, she picked up a two-day ban for careless riding in the process.

The wonderful Australian sprinter Takeover Target will race no more after fracturing a leg in Friday's July Cup but, happily, his life is in no danger after swift attention, and surgery to insert five screws, at a Newmarket veterinary clinic.