Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 18 November 2017

Deja vu over Special Duty's Guineas double

Sue Montgomery

TO gain one Classic in the stewards' room, Madame Head-Maarek, may be regarded as fortunate; to gain two looks like an outbreak of serial carelessness.

At Longchamp yesterday, for the second time in as many weeks, Special Duty finished runner-up as favourite in a 1,000 Guineas and ended up as the winner after the horse first past the post was demoted.

But to be fair to the chestnut filly, on each dramatic occasion she was the moral victress, thwarted by the hampering actions of another. And though each circumstance was different, the result for her was the same.

On the Rowley Mile, the interference had been specific; she was carried halfway across the course by one veering rival, Jacqueline Quest, and with the distance between the pair only a nose the placings were reversed.

In yesterday's Poule d'Essai des Pouliches, the 16/1 shot Liliside caused wider mayhem in a rough race and although Special Duty was not the only sufferer, she did finish second, beaten a head in a bunch finish, and so was the beneficiary.

Liliside's rider, Jean-Bernard Eyquem, was judged to have emerged from the pack too forcefully as he went in pursuit of Joanna in the straight. Not only was Special Duty -- which came with a strong run from nearly last to almost first under Stephane Pasquier -- caught up in the subsequent buffeting, but also Rosanara and Brian Meehan's Lady Of The Desert. There was only a length between the first six over the line.

An enquiry followed and it took the officials more than an hour to remove the offender, place her sixth behind those she sinned against as local rules demand, and bump everything else up.

The revised first five was Special Duty, Baine (like Liliside, trained by Jean-Claude Rohaut), Joanna, Rosanara and Lady Of The Desert.

The amended result was a neat mirror-image of events in the same race four years ago. Then, Tie Black, from Rohaut's provincial stable in the shadow of the Pyrenees, was awarded the prize after Price Tag, in the same Khalid Abdullah colours as Special Duty, was disqualified.

Head-Maarek had mixed feelings after yesterday's remarkable reward. "Obviously, it's good to win two Group Ones, even if rather an amazing way to do it, but I think the stewards made the correct decision," the trainer said.

"The more I saw the replays, the more I thought she'd lose it, but it is always a shame when it happens in big races, especially when the result involves a smaller trainer. But I still think mine was the best filly."

In the French 2,000 Guineas, Richard Hannon's Dick Turpin had again to settle for the runner-up spot -- just as he did at Newmarket -- behind Lope de Vega, which gave trainer Andre Fabre a fifth Poule d'Essai des Poulains and his rider Maxime Guyon a first.

Dick Turpin, now bound for the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, was only half a length behind the 10/1 winner, with Shamalgan third (at 100/1) for the Czech Republic and Buzzword (Godolphin) and Meezan (John Gosden) fourth and fifth.

On the undercard at Longchamp, Marchand d'Or bounced back to his best on his first run for Makfi's trainer, Mikel Delzangles, charging home in the Prix de Saint-George to deny the Kevin Ryan-trained Benbaun by a head.

American racing will have to wait another year for the longed-for Triple Crown winner as the Kentucky Derby hero, Super Saver, could finish only eighth in Saturday night's Preakness Stakes, won by Lookin At Lucky, last year's US juvenile champion.

It was his trainer Bob Baffert's fifth success in the Pimlico showpiece.

Irish Independent

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