21 May 2006

Of all the systems there has never been one to match following the stable in form. The momentum around a yard’s runners builds and builds until you think they could win a race with the stable cat. Distinction, Peeress and Pearly King are a lot better than cats and Newbury’s three big races, the Paddy Power Aston Park Stakes, Juddmonte Lockinge and the London Paddy Power Gold Cup, were duly added to the ever extending tally of Sir Michael Stoute.

This treble took the eight-times champion trainer’s score to 20 wins in the last fortnight. It is a purple patch remarkable even by Stoute’s own exacting standards but the origins remain one of the most elusive and most envied mysteries of them all. “We are not doing anything different in our routines,” said Stoute after Pearly King had been unsaddled. “But the horses have been very healthy, their skins have been very good and they have been enjoying their work. Besides,” he added with a characteristic switch from furrowed concentration to chuckling laugh, “it helps if you have the tackle.”

While it is a truism that all races come alike to this trainer, the range of yesterday’s achievements illustrated just how complete is his team’s dominance of their métier. Pearly King is a talented three-year-old improving ahead of the handicapper, Distinction is a seven-year-old stayer coming up fresh for another Gold Cup tilt and Peeress is a filly producing a career-best performance at the start of her fourth season.

The Cheveley Park operation have already had seven victories and a not insignificant £370,000 out of Peeress and yesterday’s success was handsome justification for the decision to keep her in action for another year. The fact that Peeress’ trainer, who was here winning his seventh Lockinge, is on the Cheveley Park board is unlikely to be unrelated to the process.

On the face of it, the decision to campaign Lockinge favourite Soviet Song as a six-year-old looked less happy when the top mare could only finish fourth, some six lengths off the winner. But she is never at her sharpest first time out and both trainer James Fanshawe and jockey Jamie Spencer were happy with her run. Her purple patch will come.

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