Leading racing figure dies, aged 71
The news of the death of Sir Stanley Clarke, aged 71, on Sunday was a cause of great sadness among the racing fraternity.
Clarke’s fling as a trainer was brief and not hugely unproductive – he sent out just eight winners in five years. But the experience whet his appetite, and he set about collecting his own string of racehorses.
Famed for his connection with the 1997 Grand National winner, Lord Gyllene, who romped home to a massive 25 length victory in the world famous steeplechase, the Grand National-winning owner ran several other top chasers in his colours.
He was also widely considered the saviour of many an ailing racecourse in Britain – he founded Northern Racing, which was responsible for the regeneration of Uttoxeter and Brighton, among others, eventually building up a portfolio of nine racecourses.
Derby hero and Oaks heroine set to clash
Epsom Derby and Oaks stars North Light and Ouija Board (pictured) look set to go head-to-head in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe in Paris a week on Sunday.
But one problem to have distracted connections of both horses, however, was the question of a jockey, since champion jockey Kieren Fallon was aboard both when they cruised to their respective Epsom victories.
It seems that Fallon has chosen the colt as his preferred option, so that Ouija Board’s trainer Ed Dunlop is still on the lookout for a jockey. But the trainer has yet to commit fully to the 12 furlong Group 1 race, and is keeping his options open with the possibility of a switch to the Prix de l’Opera, at Longchamp on the same day, or alternatively, to the Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park in America.
Top class line-up for Ascot Finale
Soviet Song, who has firmly established herself as the season’s leading filly, as well as proving herself a worthy match for many of the top colts, will take on many of her rivals from earlier in the season in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
The four-year-old already has three Group 1 wins to her name this season, and at Ascot she will face Refuse to Bend – who beat her at Ascot in June, but whom she subsequently took to task at Goodwood in July – and Attraction – the fillies’ rivalry could be history in the making, but the older Soviet Song is as yet unbeaten by her three-year-old counterpart.
There is a strong field for the race, which forms part of the Ascot Finale meeting. The racecourse will shut down for twenty months to undergo a £185million refurbishment.
Battle for champion jockey title hotting up
Defending champion jockey Kieren Fallon is fighting off stiff competition from Frankie Dettori. The Italian has had a brilliant season racing in Godolphin’s royal blue colours, and has been able to make the most of Fallon’s off-track troubles – the Irishman was arrested at the beginning of September in connection with race-fixing allegations.
But Fallon has by no means conceded the title. Reported to have said recently that he relishes a battle for the title, he is giving Dettori a run for his money. The two jockeys stand neck and neck on 155 winners apiece, and with the title to be decided at Doncaster next month, punters are unlikely to see either of these two dropping their hands.