There is a slightly anthropomorphic notion that horses who run up a sequence of near misses somehow deserve a victory in due course, as though gallant effort is in itself worthy of the ultimate reward. Dick Turpin certainly deserved yesterday's success in the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly, his first Group One strike, but not because of his previous three successive runner-up spots at that level, simply because on this occasion he was easily the best on the day under the conditions.
Dick Turpin has laboured in the shadow of his Richard Hannon stablemate and three-year-old contemporary Canford Cliffs throughout his career, despite having proved the better athlete on the first two of the three occasions on which they have met. In the Greenham Stakes the pair were first and second, in the 2,000 Guineas they were second and third and it was only in the last 75 yards of the St James's Palace Stakes that Canford Cliffs finally proved his mastery.
Those at East Eversleigh have always regarded Canford Cliffs, whose brilliance was established in the Coventry Stakes last year and who redeemed his reputation back at Royal Ascot last month, as the better. But Dick Turpin is no mean second string and yesterday it was his turn to deliver, though hardly standing. Two furlongs out the powerful, dark-brown colt produced a change of gear that sent him streaking four lengths clear of his rivals, headed by Siyouni, Xtension and Hearts Of Fire.
"I'm delighted for the horse," said rider Richard Hughes, who had always sided with Canford Cliffs in the head-to-heads. "You get some horses who never get to win. But now it's great he's broken his duck at this level and the pressure is off. Everything went so smoothly. We went a tremendous gallop, which suited, and I kicked on early in the straight because I knew he'd stay well, and the speed he showed he killed them off very quickly."
Though Dick Turpin, who started a shade over 7-1, was not taking a top prize out of turn, it was not expected to be his turn. Between Newmarket and Ascot, the son of Arakan had been beaten in the French equivalent of the 2,000 Guineas by Lope De Vega, who went on to take last month's Prix du Jockey-Club impressively and was 9-10 favourite yesterday.
The chestnut, locally trained by André Fabre, seemed to travel easily enough in his pacemaker Altair Star's slipstream up front, but found nothing when Maxime Guyon asked him to take the lead and, just as his tank emptied, Dick Turpin engaged his turbo boost and swept away. Guyon eased his disappointing mount, who had been fractious before the start, to last place.
Dick Turpin, who has now brought owner John Manley a return of nearly £680,000 on the £23,000 his pride and joy cost as a yearling, clearly thrives on his job. "He's been on the go for a while," added Hughes, "but he was so well in himself at home there was no reason not to run him here. He'll tell us himself when he's ready to run again."
Hannon is in the happy position of now having three Group One-winning milers – Dick Turpin, Canford Cliffs and Paco Boy – in his Wiltshire stable. Each is in different ownership and there remains the intriguing possibility that they may all turn up in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood later this month.
And on the subject of monopolies, the trainer Henry Cecil's family standard was flying proudly on the flagstaff at Warren Place in Newmarket yesterday after the trainer's charge Twice Over had continued Khaled Abdullah's annus mirabilis in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes on Saturday.
The Observatory five-year-old, who lasted home by half a length under Tom Queally at Sandown, supplied his owner-breeder with a fifth Group One victory of the season, after Special Duty's English and French 1,000 Guineas, Workforce's record-breaking Derby and Byword's Prince Of Wales's Stakes, all from different yards. The next two top-level chances for the famous pink, green and white silks will come this week at Newmarket's summer festival, courtesy of Special Duty in the Falmouth Stakes on Wednesday and Showcasing in the July Cup on Friday.
Twice Over was reported in fine fettle after his exertions and has next month's International, sponsored by Abdullah's own Juddmonte breeding operation, at York pencilled in. He provided a fourth Eclipse for Cecil, 41 years after the subsequent 10-times champion and legend of the Turf gave notice of what was to come by taking the historic prize with Wolver Hollow in his first season with a licence.
Jockeys' title race leader Paul Hanagan suffered a slight setback at Ayr yesterday when his prospective opening mount Cotton Spirit unseated him before the start and kicked him in the face. Hanagan rode in the next race but stood himself down for the rest of the afternoon, but expects to ride at Ripon this evening. "I've cracked the top of my nose," he said, "but I should be OK."
Sue Montgomery's nap
Little Scotland (8.20 Ripon)
A little too highly tried last season, but can start progressing again after a maiden win and a promising handicap debut.
Bideeya (9.10 Windsor)
Should be sharper after last week's return to action after a break, when she travelled well for much of the race, and will appreciate the step up in distance.
One to watch
Mohedian Lady (M L W Bell), a 240,000gns Hurricane Run juvenile filly, has yet to race but has been looking the part on the Newmarket gallops.
Where the money's going
Starspangledbanner is as short as 13-8 for Friday's July Cup at Newmarket but the market mover for the sprint is Showcasing, due to wear first-time blinkers and 16-1 from 25-1 with Ladbrokes.
Chris McGrath's nap
Logos Astra (4.30 Bath)