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Tuesday, August 3, 2004


HTR Supremo Harry Herbert is tremendously excited' at seeing a syndicate horse in Australia's most prestigious event

Highclere Thoroughbred Racing (HTR) has entered recent York winner Distinction for the Group One Emirates Melbourne Cup at Flemington, Melbourne, Australia, which closed today.

The two-mile handicap, which is Australia's highest-profile race, takes place on Tuesday, November 2, 2004 and has AUS$4,050,000 in prize money.

The five-year-old son of Danehill, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, produced the best performance of his career last month when winning the Listed John Smith's Extra Smooth Silver Cup Rated Handicap at York.

He was given an immaculate ride by Kieren Fallon in the one mile six furlong event. The top-weight led a furlong out and held on well from Star Member by half a length, a victory which indicated that he would be ideally suited by the additional two furlongs of the Melbourne Cup, the race that stops a nation'.

This was the third success of Distinction's 14-race career. He took a 10-furlong Newmarket maiden in 2002, while the following year he proved three-quarters of a length too powerful for Scott's View in a 14-furlong conditions event at Salisbury in September.

Distinction is owned by HTR's 20-share Orangery Syndicate which was launched in 2000. HTR is the most successful racehorse multiple ownership operation in Europe and recently announced the launch of seven new syndicates, with a total of 127 shares, for 2005.

Harry Herbert, HTR's managing director, revealed today: "The Melbourne Cup is very much the plan at the moment for Distinction and we will wait for the weights to come out before probably running the horse again - we need to see what weight he is going to carry.

"I think the weights are revealed by September 1 but Distinction looks the right sort of horse for the Melbourne Cup and certainly Sir Michael is very keen for him, providing he is well, to go for the race.

"A five-year-old son of Danehill with his profile certainly seems to fit the race and it will be a terrific thrill for everyone involved in the Orangery Syndicate to have a runner in such an immensely valuable race.

"If he did go to Australia, he would probably run in the Group One Carlton Draught Caulfield Cup (12 furlongs) on October 16 beforehand as a sort of prep and then obviously on to the main event."

Distinction may be seen in action at Doncaster on Thursday, September 9, before travelling to Australia.

"Distinction might possibly have another run here beforehand which Sir Michael has indicated may be the GNER Doncaster Cup and I would imagine that he would go into quarantine immediately after that for a fortnight and then fly out soon thereafter so that he would have plenty of time for recuperation. The way it looks at the moment, he is likely to have just the one more run in this country," outlined Herbert.

HTR's supremo has watched big races all over the world but, even for such an experienced racegoer, it is impossible for him to hide the enthusiasm he has for Distinction's potential international raid.

"I am tremendously excited - I was lucky enough to go to Australia a couple of years ago and made a speech at the Carbine Club, a big sporting club which hosts a big Melbourne Cup event in front of 1,000 people, and it was a fantastic experience.

"I was there with my wife for a week and there's no question or doubt that, of all the international festivals that I have been to, it was the most exciting," he said.

"The Australian Derby on the Saturday, the Melbourne Cup on the Tuesday and the Oaks on the Thursday with over 100,000 people on each of the three days and the whole buzz of the race which literally stops a nation' - until you are in Australia, you have no idea how massive an event it is - the biggest sporting event in the country.

"It's something that we can be very envious about over here and we'd love the Derby to be just like it!

"The idea of having a horse that has the right profile to run there is something that I wouldn't have dreamed about as HTR does not tend to run four-year-olds let alone five-year-olds.

"It's certainly rare for Highclere to have a horse that would ever be capable of running in the Melbourne Cup which must be one of the ambitions of anyone who owns racehorses, such is the importance of the race and the excitement and buzz that surrounds it."


This month will see the first Group race run at Salisbury Racecourse in 18 years, with the £60,000 totesport SOVEREIGN STAKES taking place on Thursday, August 12. The last Group race to run at Wiltshire's racecourse was the Salisbury 2,000 Guineas Trial in April, 1986.

The mile totesport Sovereign Stakes, for colts and geldings aged three and over, has been upgraded from Listed to Group Three status, reflecting the high quality of winners in recent seasons. The 2003 victor Passing Glance went on to win the Group Two Darley Oettingen-Rennen at Baden-Baden, Germany. The 2002 scorer was Prior's Lodge, who went on to finish a short-head behind Passing Glance in the Sovereign Stakes last year before gaining his revenge when a head too strong in the Group Two Celebration Mile at Goodwood.

Jeremy Martin, Salisbury's Clerk of the Course and General Manager, commented: "We are absolutely delighted to be staging our first Group race in close on 20 years at Salisbury.

"The £60,000 total prize fund is £10,000 above the minimum requirement to stage this race and there is a great deal of anticipation ahead of what should prove to be an excellent contest."

Salisbury races on both Wednesday, August 11, and on Thursday, August 12, with excellent racing taking place over the two days and a total of £196,500 on offer in advertised prize money. Many top performers appear at Salisbury en route to stardom and other horses that won as two-year-olds at this meeting in recent years include subsequent Group One Queen Elizabeth II Stakes hero Where Or When and classic-placed Barathea Guest.

The Wednesday six-race programme kicks off with the CARMEN WINS EBF MAIDEN STAKES (2.30pm) and runs through to the GOLDRING SECURITY SERVICES FILLIES' HANDICAP (5pm).

Taking centre stage on August 11 are two Listed contests - the £30,000 WEATHERBYS STONEHENGE STAKES (3.30pm) and the £45,000 EUROPEAN BREEDERS' FUND UPAVON FILLIES' STAKES (4pm). The mile Weatherbys Stonehenge Stakes was upgraded to Listed status last year and was landed by Sgt Pepper, trained locally at Marlborough by Richard Hannon.

Run over just short of a mile and a quarter, the European Breeders' Fund Upavon Fillies' Stakes has developed into a really informative contest in recent years, being won last year by the Michael Bell-trained Hoh Buzzard, who went on to be placed in Group Three contests at Deauville, France, and Arlington Park, USA. The victorious filly in 2001 was Chorist, winner of the Group One Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh, Ireland, earlier this season.

The remaining two thoroughbred races on August 11 are the BEMBRIDGE CLAIMING STAKES (3pm) and the VIOLET APPLIN CHALLENGE CUP HANDICAP (4.30pm), while an Arabian race, for apprentice jockeys, will start the afternoon at 2pm.

Thursday, August 12 also features a six-race programme, with obviously the totesport Sovereign Stakes being the highlight of the day.

Action gets underway with the DOWNS MAIDEN AUCTION STAKES (2.30pm) and concludes with AXMINSTER CARPETS APPRENTICE HANDICAP (5.20pm). The main supporting race of the day is the £10,000 STELLA ARTOIS FILLIES' HANDICAP (3.40pm). The SOVEREIGN WINDOWS & CONSERVATORIES MAIDEN STAKES (3.05pm) and the MATTHEW CLARK HANDICAP (4.50pm) complete the races.

A big screen is in operation on both days of the August meeting to ensure that racegoers miss none of the action and full-colour racecards are also available.

Jeremy Martin added: "Racing at Salisbury continues to go from strength to strength and we are proud to be offering such a strong two-day meeting on August 11 and 12.

"The quality of our runners has been particularly strong this year and that has helped our attendance figures, which for the last meeting on July 24 were up 35% at 6,500."

The gates open at noon on both days. Admission prices are Members £16, Tattersalls £10 and Course £5 and, as at all Salisbury's meetings, accompanied children under 16 are admitted FREE.

Salisbury also races later in the month, with the final evening meeting of the 2004 season taking place on Friday, August 20 (first race 5.35pm).


The Sportingodds.com Grey Horse Handicap, run for the first time last year and the only race restricted to grey horses ever to be staged in this country, takes place at Newmarket's July Racecourse on Saturday, August 14, with prize money of £15,000, up from £10,000 last year. Entries for the six-furlong handicap for greys aged three and upwards, rated 0-80, close next Monday (August 9) and Newmarket and the sponsors are hoping for a large entry.

"Last year's race attracted 13 runners and really captured the public's imagination," commented Newmarket's Managing Director, Lisa Hancock.

"We are hoping for an even bigger field this year and wondering if we might even be able to set a world record. There are quite a few grey races in countries like Australia and we haven't yet been able to establish what is the biggest field of greys to have lined up for one race. However, if we were to get close to 20 runners, we might put out the claim to a world record and see if any racecourse around the world can challenge it!"

The owners of all runners in the race will get the chance to follow last year's winner, Smart Predator, into the record books as a winner of this unique race. On the day the owners are invited for champagne whilst watching a replay of the race.

Newmarket is staging a race of similar conditions on the previous evening for all other colours of horse as instructed by the British Horseracing Board. This was a condition of being allowed to stage a "greys only" race.

Win a Racehorse for the Day!

Courtesy of Sportingodds.com there will be the chance to 'Win a Racehorse for the Day'. A lucky member of the public will get the chance to be the owner of Te Quiero, trained by Gay Kelleway, and due to be entered for the Sportingodds.com grey race on August 14. The prize includes lunch in the July Restaurant and a free £200 bet plus a 50% share in any prize money if Te Quiero is placed. The competition will be run in the racecard on Friday, August 6 and Saturday, August 7. The winner will be drawn on Channel 4 on Saturday, August 7.

To book tickets for racing at Newmarket, call 01638 675 500 or book on-line at www.newmarketracecourses.co.uk

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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