Mike Cattermole: Golden age
Mike Cattermole looks forward to a potential sprint clash to savour and sings the praises of an in-form jockey.
Fergus Sweeney: Much under-rated rider and outstanding aboard Chain Of Daisies at Windsor
GOLDEN AGE FOR SPRINTERS?
Talk about Mecca's Angel! Now Quiet Reflection has revealed herself to be an outstanding sprinter too and there cannot be a racing fan out there who wouldn't want to see them in opposition. If Mecca's Angels comes out of the Abbaye in good shape, it might just happen in the Champions' Sprint at Ascot next month.
That is Quiet Reflection's target after her brilliant win in Saturday's Haydock Sprint Cup but remember that she is also unbeaten in three starts over the minimum trip, so if Mecca's Angel does stay around next season, a clash in the King's Stand would be something to look forward to.
After seeing Quiet Reflection on Saturday, thoughts strayed back to Habibti who had also won the Haydock feature back in 1983 – by a whopping seven lengths. John Dunlop's flying filly had already mopped up the July Cup and Nunthorpe before ending her season by taking the Abbaye. She was clearly exceptional, yet Willie Carson still rated Dayjur as the best sprinter he rode.
Although she was obviously a high-class filly going into the Sprint Cup, Quiet Reflection's manner of victory came as a surprise to these eyes. Karl Burke's pre-race assessment was spot-on and she clearly had improved.
Although she had been beaten in the July Cup, you could have argued that her performance there was at least the equal of her win in the Commonwealth Cup. In fact, the form of her Royal Ascot success had not worked out well.
Last Saturday, though, she stepped up a level or two and also showed that a soft surface was no bother. Whether she has reached the ceiling of her potential remains to be seen but a rematch in the Champions' Sprint at Ascot with Saturday's runner-up The Tin Man is no foregone conclusion.
While it all went right for Quiet Reflection, who broke well and always had a good position, it all went wrong for James Fanshawe's sprinter who left the gates slowly and gave away many lengths.
He was always playing catch-up after that but I noted the way he quickened in the closing stages to try and close down Quiet Reflection who had got first run on him. That was also the first time that The Tin Man had shown his form on soft ground.
However, Team Fanshawe now face a little problem. While wanting to make sure he breaks a bit more sharply next time, they would not want to light him up too much as The Tin Man is at his best when he is settled at the back and produced with that trademark turn of foot.
Now throw in Limato or Twilight Son, depending on the ground, and the Champions' Sprint is really shaping up!
FERGUS SWEENEY HITTING THE HIGH NOTES
I was pleased to see Fergus Sweeney grab some decent prize money on Belgian Bill in the Anatolia Trophy in Turkey last weekend.
This came just a week after a riding masterclass on board Chain Of Daisies in the Winter Hill Stakes at Windsor. Henry Candy's filly is a front-runner but the way that Sweeney steadied the gallop and then quickened at the vital moment in the last two furlongs was enough to repel Ulysses, the Ryan Moore-ridden odds-on favourite, by a short head.
Much was made of Moore's front-running ride on Highland Reel in the King George but I didn't get the fuss. Front-running is Highland Reel's way, he was the best horse in the race and was fully entitled to win in the manner he did.
The difference in the Winter Hill was that Chain Of Daisies lined up as the fifth highest-rated in the six-runner field, started as fourth favourite, and the ride Sweeney gave her really did make a difference.
Sweeney would have started the season with bright hopes but his relationship with Martyn Meade's up-and-coming stable has come to an end – albeit an amicable one – and it seems that the owners of Twilight Son prefer to overlook him, too.
However, the talents of this underrated rider continue to be appreciated by the likes of Candy and Alan King. He continues to serve his colleagues well, too, as the PJA Safety Officer.
And have you ever heard his singing voice?
DONCASTER'S NEW LEGER SPONSOR IS…?
The four-day St Leger Festival used to lag a long way behind York's Ebor meeting but the gap in quality and entertainment is narrowing. Doncaster and ARC have worked very hard to raise the profile of this historic meeting.
There will be quite an atmosphere on Town Moor this week, especially on Leger day. And Doncaster will always have the bragging rights over York on that score as it is the home of Yorkshire's very own Classic.
Because of the ongoing ABP saga, Ladbrokes is being forced to end its successful 12-year backing of the St Leger after this Saturday's running. You just sense the frustration at the headquarters of the Magic Sign. From a personal point of view, I cannot believe that deals have not been struck.
Finding a new sponsor for such an historic race should not pose too many problems for the Doncaster team, surely? But they will know that momentum is everything and with an acknowledgement that we must look after our staying races with more diligence than ever, let's hope an announcement is made sooner rather than later.
ITV RACING TEAM
In these days when opportunities for broadcasting on racing have never been greater, ITV Sport must have interviewed scores of presenters and pundits. It can't have been easy wading through them all.
Some have already been given roles in the new team and some have been politely declined, yours truly among them.
Many, including some very well known names, have still heard nothing and wait to see whether no news is indeed good news. Who is going to call the races, who will cover the betting? You would imagine that Sir AP will be offered a role but will he accept it?
With the launch now under four months away, all will be revealed very soon.
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