It had seemed the old gunslinger was no longer looking down the barrel of a smoking pistol, but rather into the base of a drained tumbler as he sprawled across the saloon bar. The six-year-old is taken to the gallops each day of his life and the suspicion was that his spirit had succumbed to the monotony.
Double Trigger does not even look the same effervescent figure that started winning races at Redcar four years ago. His once-vivid chestnut and white hide now looks rather pale, as if he has been through a few spin cycles too many. "He's a six-year-old entire and horses start to think about different things at that age," Mark Johnston, the trainer, said. "He goes around the paddock a bit quieter than he used to and with a little less sparkle."
The heart inside this seasoned casing remains as robust as ever though. It was pumping busily soon after start of the two-mile journey. "I got him on his toes before we went in the gate and, after he broke well, I kicked him in the belly and rode him for the first furlong to really let him know he was in a race," Michael Roberts, the victorious jockey, reported. "To be honest he gave me a difficult ride after that because he kept pulling himself up."
Johnston went on to complete a double in the Golden Mile Handicap with Fly To The Stars, who seemed to relish the opportunity to stretch his legs when an electrical malfunction opened his section of the stalls early. After a restart the three-year-old was expertly handled by Olivier Peslier.
This was not a day for ordinary performances and Daggers Drawn set the standard when he was carried to victory on an immense sigh of relief from Kieren Fallon in the Richmond Stakes. A furlong out, Henry Cecil's colt appeared to have been the victim of a conspiracy as a phalanx of the remaining five runners blocked his path. When a crack appeared, however, he was through it like a shaft of sunlight. "I thought I was going to have a nightmare journey and for a while I was beginning to think "oh no here we go again"," Fallon reported. "But then they broke up nicely ahead of me and I thought "there is a God". It would have been a disaster if they hadn't split.
"This horse doesn't look as impressive as he feels. He's got the engine, he's got speed and even though the 2,000 Guineas is a long way away you can look forward to the race with such a lovely horse. I think he's something special." Daggers Drawn is a top-priced 7-1 with Ladbrokes for the Classic next May.
Best bet today may be AMYAS (nap 2.45) who ran well in the Newmarket handicap which has produced subsequent winners Maylane, Stanton Harcourt and Manazil. Two years ago Con Collins sent over Almaty from Ireland to plunder the Molecomb and today the same trainer's Lady Alexander (next best 3.50), who beat King Of Kings last time, can oblige.
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