Stoute scores at Curragh but British raiders flop in France


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The Independent Online

Though Britain’s premier league fillies were firmly repulsed by Chicquita in the Irish Oaks on Saturday, at least the second division came home with some honour from The Curragh yesterday.

Sir Michael Stoute’s progressive charge Dank became the first raider to take the afternoon’s feature, the Kilboy Stakes, a victory that marked some precision planning by her trainer as his first runner in Ireland for nearly two years.

Punters took the hint – the four-year-old daughter of Dansili started a well-backed 5-4 favourite – and hardly had a moment’s worry as Ryan Moore brought her to the front more than a furlong from home for a smooth  success. Year-younger Say, from the Aidan O’Brien yard, took the runner-up spot.

It was a filly, too, who made the best impression in France yesterday, but this time against the boys. Vorda took her unbeaten record to three with a telling burst of speed in the closing stages of the Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte, usually a reliable pointer to the first top-level French juvenile test, next month’s Prix Morny at Deauville. “She just does everything so easily”, said delighted trainer Philippe Sorgob.

Last year’s winner Reckless Abandon went on to claim the double, but yesterday’s British challengers were out of luck, with the Royal Ascot winner Extortionist’s last place particularly disappointing.

The serial jumps champion Tony McCoy is never happier than when testing himself and, after a late start to his current campaign because of injury, he set himself a target of 50 winners before his branch of the sport’s first significant gathering of the season, next week’s Galway Festival. Needless to say he duly achieved it by winning on the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Strongly Suggested at Stratford yesterday. “I did start late but luckily Jonjo’s horses have been flying,” McCoy said.

Ektihaam, so unlucky when slipping in the lead in last month’s Hardwicke Stakes and unseating Paul Hanagan, has been cleared to return to Ascot in Saturday’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, for which he is a 10-1 shot.

His owner Hamdan al-Maktoum’s other entry for the midsummer showpiece, Mukhadram, will run in a lesser event at York the same afternoon.

Turf account

Chris McGrath’s nap Nickels and Dimes (8.50 Windsor)

Made a satisfactory seasonal debut two weeks ago on the all-weather and steps up to a distance likely to suit her well.

Next best Midnight Dynamo (3.40 Ayr)

Unfavoured by the way the race panned out last time and returns to the scene of her victory last month in better company.

One To Watch All three who followed him home have won since he trounced them in his first handicap, so the next appearance of Brass Ring (John Gosden) must be of interest.