THE curtain comes down on Ayr’s Flat season today with an eight-race La Barrique Fine Wines Raceday.
Large fields see 93 runners go to post and many of the north’s top jockeys, including Joe Fanning, Graham Lee, Tom Eaves, Tony Hamilton and Danny Tudhope are in action, with Lee napped to win the Nursery on Tom Dascombe’s Captain Revelation.
The feature race on the card is The Tennent’s Lager Handicap, with £12,000 in prize-money and top weight is the Robin Bastiman trained Green Howard, another mount for Lee, while the powerful Richard Fahey yard send four runners in Farlow, the mount of David Nolan, Our Boy Jack (George Chaloner), Regiment (Tony Hamilton) and Tiger Twenty Two (Jack Garritty).
Jim Goldie and Lee will receive their prizes for the top trainer and jockey respectively at the track for the 2014 season.
At Nottingham yesterday, Andrea Atzeni capped what has already been a marvellous breakthrough year by riding his 100th winner of the season.
The Italian claimed a maiden British Classic on Kingston Hill in the Ladbrokes St Leger and he has been announced as the first jockey for Sheikh Fahad’s Qatar Racing operation. The century came in the yellow and black colours of one of his current retaining owners, Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, when the Luca Cumani-trained King Bolete (11-4) took division two of the 32Red Casino EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes by a neck.
Meanwhile, American superstar Cigar, winner of the inaugural running of the Dubai World Cup in 1996, has died. The 24-year-old, trained in his glory days by Bill Mott and owned and bred by Allen Paulson, was retired with great fanfare after finishing third in the 1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic – a race he had claimed 12 months earlier – but was to prove infertile at stud.
Foaled at Country Life Farm near Bel Air, Maryland, the son of Palace Music was trained by Alex Hassinger Jnr in the formative stages of his career and spent his later years at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. A statement on Country Life Farm’s website, www.countrylifefarm.com, said: “Sad day around the world, as we learn that the great Cigar has died in KY. Foaled at Country Life on April 18, 1990, he went on to become one of the greatest racehorses of all time, tying Citation’s record of 16 consecutive wins. So glad we could be a part of his legacy.”
Then a six-year-old, Cigar produced a performance of real guts at Nad Al Sheba to beat the Richard Mandella-trained Soul Of The Matter, announcing himself on to the world stage by overcoming training problems and the effects of a long flight.
Mott said at the time: “That is the most he has been challenged in the stretch. I often wondered what would happen when another horse looked him in the eye. He showed the courage that it takes to become a true champion.”
The previous November, Cigar had thrashed British hope Halling at the Breeders’ Cup. After the World Cup, Mott’s superstar extended his run to 16 straight wins, equalling Citation. He was named American Horse of the Year in 1995 and 1996 before being inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.