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Sunday, October 19, 2003


Executors of the late Lord Weinstock's four-year-old filly ISLINGTON (IRE) was the first of 14 European stars to arrive in California with four different flights from Europe scheduled over this weekend for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championship on Saturday, October 25 at Santa Anita..

Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, the daughter of Sadler's Wells arrived from England in Los Angeles at about midnight Friday and into the quarantine barn at Santa Anita at 2 a.m with a Stoute-trained stablemate to run in another stakes this weekend. Islington finished third in the Filly & Mare Turf at Arlington Park last fall.

The next flight from Europe was due from England early Saturday evening with FALBRAV (IRE) and OASIS DREAM (GB) from England and Irish-trained REFUSE TO BEND (IRE) and RELAXED GESTURE (IRE).

The first of two flights due today will bring French-trained fillies BRIGHT SKY (IRE) and SIX PERFECTIONS (FR) from Amsterdam and arriving at LAX in early afternoon.

The second will be the Coolmore team's charter from Ireland. Trainer Aidan O'Brien's Breeders' Cup contingent includes HIGH CHAPARRAL (IRE), YESTERDAY (IRE), L'ANCRESSE (IRE), GRAND REWARD, HOLD THAT TIGER, OLD DEUTERONOMY and STATUE OF LIBERTY.


Game, set, match, Eclipse Award. Michael Moran's McDynamo locked up the 2003 steeplechase championship with a triumphant score in yesterday's $175,000 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase (Gr. I) in front of a sell-out crowd of 50,000 at the Far Hills Races.

Ridden by Craig Thornton, the winner took over the lead after about a mile and simply galloped away. The 6-year-old son of Dynaformer jumped flawlessly, maintained an easy lead down the long backstretch and swept around the final turn to win by 15 1/4 lengths for Pennsylvania-based trainer Sanna Hendriks.

Pelagos rallied late for second, a half-length ahead of Mulahen. The winner covered the 2 5/8 miles and 14 fences in 5:24.3 over a course labelled good.

In a race with no real speed horse, McDynamo inherited the early advantage after reluctantly tracking Indispensable for the first five fences. Thornton gave the winner some rein at the sixth, and the rest was a cruise.

"He raced pretty keenly, keener than I would have liked," said Thornton. "It was a paceless race and far from the ideal set-up for me, but his class came through. In the end it wasn't difficult. When you've got a horse like that under you all you've got to do is not make a mistake."

And there were no mistakes.

The win, worth $96,250, pushed McDynamo's 2003 earnings to a National Steeplechase Association-best $192,025. Winner of April's Royal Chase (Gr.I) at Keeneland in his only prior start this year, McDynamo is the only horse to win two open Grade I steeplechases this year and is the champion in the clubhouse with only the Nov. 16 Colonial Cup left on the Grade I agenda.

Moran purchased McDynamo as a yearling at Keeneland in 1998, and raced the powerful bay gelding on the flat (two wins in nine starts) before pursuing a steeplechase career in 2001. Unbeaten in three starts over the Far Hills course, McDynamo improved to 7-for-9 lifetime over jumps and pushed his career earnings to $451,319.

"How do you know how good they will be -- I just liked the type," said Moran. "He's by Dynaformer and they mature more as they get older. He has a lot of athletic talent, and I hoped he would be this good. He's like a growing athlete and has gotten stronger and stronger. I think horses like that you can race sparingly and they will last a long time."

NOTES: The Breeders' Cup Steeplechase, run for the 12th time, headlined the richest day of U.S. steeplechasing this year. Far Hills gave away $455,000 over six races . . . The race will be televised on Long John Silver's Wire to Wire program on ESPN2 Thursday, Oct. 23 at 12:30 p.m. Eastern.

Self Flit stakes his claim to Japan Cup slot

Ivan Allan has always led the charge when it comes to campaigning Hong Kong's best horses overseas and the hugely successful trainer left the races today (Sunday) hoping one of his newest stars will get the call for next month's Japan Cup.

Self Flit may become the latest Allan protege to tackle Tokyo after he drew out for a highly commendable success in the HK$2.3 million (US$296,000) Sha Tin Trophy (Gr.3-1600m).

Allan, of course, is no stranger to success on missions across the East China Sea after the recent exploits of Indigenous and Fairy King Prawn, and he believes the four-year-old New Zealand gelding sired by Cicerao, who Allan himself raced a decade ago, should be accepted to take part in the penultimate leg of the World Series Racing Championship on November 30.

"He's proven himself a good horse and he is much better over 2400 metres. He won the Gr.1 Hong Kong Classic Mile last year, and he finished second in the Hong Kong Derby to Elegant Fashion, who he has beaten today. That's good form and I hope they invite us to take part," Allan said.

Asked if he would also consider tackling the Hong Kong International Races with the horse a fortnight later, he replied: "Let's just cross one bridge at a time."

Benefiting from a prominent berth throughout under a cool Weichong Marwing ride, Self Flit, well supported in the market at 5/1, peeled out to hit the front entering the final furlong for a one and a quarter length success from the favourite, the Hong Kong Derby heroine Elegant Fashion.

David Hayes' mare had been posted seven lengths off the pace down the backstretch and was giving the winner a four-length break as she hit the top gear off the home turn. It was too much for the 6/5 favourite to overcome.

Hidden Dragon, tackling a mile for the first time, finished third with Dr More staying on well for fourth place.

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