Stride stands in Easterby's way

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Dale Gibson was hurting in the chest and a spot at the top of the backside yesterday. The jockey sent spilling to the Beverley turf on Wednesday was found to have fractured a rib after tests at the Royal Hull Infirmary.

Last night Gibson was on the way home and carefully negotisting any sleeping policemen along the way. "He sounds very, very weak and says he feels as though he has been in a heavyweight boxing match with Frank Bruno [sic] or Mike Tyson," John Hickman, Gibson's agent, said. "He does not have a punctured lung as was feared but there is a lot of blood about."

However, when the injuries to his torso disappear Gibson will find that what hurts most about the episode is the empty feeling in his back pocket. He missed out on a winner yesterday when Mick Easterby's 16-1 chance, Able Sheriff, won at Ayr.

The Western meeting began with success for Easterby's nephew Tim, who was successful with Little Blue, and the second race went to Linda Perratt, who must struggle to charge her owners diesel money to get their horses to this course. Perratt trains at Cree Lodge, which lies adjacent to the race-track, and yesterday's winner, Brave Montgomerie, like the rest of her string, is galloped on course.

Mick Easterby has been galloping up to Ayr for 35 years now and was asked this week why he keeps going as a trainer. The Yorkshireman eschewed any esoteric notion about the appeal of alfresco life and love of a noble beast. "Greed," he replied. On a previous visit to the Ayrshire coast Easterby tipped a bucketful of water over someone he took dislike to and the signs were that it was going to be a dangerous area for his enemies last night after Able Sheriff's victory. "You could say this will have paid for all the expenses," he said, "but in some ways it would have been better if I got the winner on the last day as I wouldn't be able to blow all the money straight away."

Easterby runs two in this afternoon's nursery - Sandbaggedagain and Dee Pee Tee Cee - and in his humble opinion they will finish first and second, in that order. At the risk of a soaking though, a better suggestion may be Stride (3.05), who won at Lingfield last time. The best bet on the card is the consistent MISS STAMPER (nap 3.35), who beat 29 opponents at the Curragh last time when capturing the Tattersalls Breeders Stakes.

Whoever is the director-general of the foal-naming department at Godolphin appears to have secured one of the least demanding posts in racing.

In the Haynes, Hanson & Clark Stakes at Newbury, a race which invariably produces a beast that makes some impact in the following year's Derby, Team Emirates is represented by a half-brother to Lammtarra, also a full- brother to Kammtarra. It would be impossible to guess this relationship as this afternoon's beast goes incognito by the name of Haltarra.

It is instructive that Godolphin are represented by the home-bred colt. Last season the race went to Mick's Love, who was subsequently bought by the Arab team to undergo the Dubai winter treatment, but the emphasis this year will be on animals reared on the Maktoums' stud farms. Only the promising will be selected, which will impact on Sheikh Mohammed's European trainers, notably Andre Fabre and John Gosden.

There are some extremely well-bred newcomers on parade here and even if Haltarra (3.40) puts his experience to good use this time it will be no guarantee for future superiority.

Hever Golf Rose (next best 2.40) has run more times this season than Haltarra will probably manage in his whole career but has yet to register a win. At the 11th time of asking she can devour rivals who are several divisions inferior.

William Hill attack Lottery, p22

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