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Weld's Famous Name to go extra Mile

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Dermot Weld. Photo: Getty Images

Dermot Weld. Photo: Getty Images

Dermot Weld. Photo: Getty Images

Dermot Weld takes Famous Name across the Irish Sea today in an attempt to overthrow Richard Hannon's domination of the Mile at Sandown.

Hannon has won the Group Two race an incredible six times in the last eight renewals, including the last four in a row through Major Cadeaux, Paco Boy (twice) and Dick Turpin.

This time around he will saddle Dubawi Gold and Libranno, but they will face a serious examination from Weld's long-serving representative.

Famous Name is a big favourite of his jockey Pat Smullen, who has ridden him in all but one of his 30 starts. A multiple scorer at Listed and Group Three level, it has been an ambition of Weld to get the seven-year-old entire an elusive Group One win as he has been placed in that class on six occasions.

"He's obviously in good form having won his first run of the season at Leopardstown the other day," said Smullen. "He's been a model of consistency and he has won 15 races, with 14 of them at stakes level. That takes some doing.

"I know he's a seven-year-old but he seems as good as ever fitness-wise and I'd say he'll improve for the run in what looks a very competitive race."

Hannon's two runners have slight questions to answer.

"Libranno has been such a star for Oliver McDowell, winning two Group Twos as a juvenile and two Group Threes last year, and he seems better than ever," Hannon said.

"He is so versatile and was only beaten three lengths in the July Cup, and he looked to enjoy the ease in the ground when he won the Criterion Stakes at Newmarket over seven furlongs.

"However, this will be proper soft ground and he also needs to get the mile, so we are going into the unknown.

"We know that Dubawi Gold stays the mile as he was runner-up in two Guineas last year, but he needs to bounce back from an unpleasant experience in Dubai, where he lashed out in the stalls and caught his hind legs.

"It could have been a lot worse, but he has come back fine and we hope that he will get back on track."

John Gosden's Questioning, fresh from a narrow defeat of Twice Over at Newmarket last week, will have another clash with David O'Meara's new charge Penitent, which got the edge in the Doncaster Mile.

Nick Bradley, of Penitent's owners Middleham Park Racing, said: "We know that he'll be more suited to the ground than some of the others. The ground holds no fears.

"When he was at William Haggas', he had problems with his joints and feet but since he's been at David's he's been fine.

"I've spoken to the clerk of the course and he says it's 80-20 to be on, it will be very testing and that won't suit some of them.

"We had quite a few options for him but plumped for this.

"We paid £40,000 for him and he's already won a Listed race and is now running in a Group Two with a good chance.

"He's been a good buy. Famous Name is clear on the ratings but he seems to follow the same path every year and he'll be meeting new horses now.

"He only just held on the last day and his rating might be a bit high.

"Questioning is one that might have more things than most in his favour."

Irish Independent