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Wednesday, August 4, 2004


PA sportinglife.com reported:

Alec Stewart, trainer of the great Mtoto, died at his Newmarket home on Wednesday after a long-running battle with cancer. He was 49.

Having taken out a training licence in 1983, following four years as assistant to Tom Jones, he went on to establish a highly-successful partnership with South African-born jockey Michael Roberts.

The pair enjoyed a fruitful association and landed several top races with some high-class performers.

But undoubtedly the star turn among them was Mtoto, with whom they bagged the Coral-Eclipse Stakes in 1987 and 1988, the year in which the brilliant son of Busted also took the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot.

"It is very sad news indeed as he was a great man and what you would call a true friend," said Roberts. "I owe him a lot as he helped me a great deal when I first came to the UK and he was always there for me during the 17 years I was here.

"Mtoto and Waajib were easily the best horses I rode for him - they were two great horses that he handled - and would be the highlights for me.

"I had many discussions with Alec when I first came over here and through the years. He was a great trainer - in my eyes he was fantastic.

"You could get beat on one of his horses but the next morning he would be just looking forward to that day's meeting, which was why I enjoyed riding for him and why we got on so well.

"When I was working in the UK and was offered other jobs, I would discuss it with Alec and he said that he would still support me, which he did, right through to the end.

"It is a huge shock for racing. I just feel so sorry for his family, though, as his children almost grew up virtually in front of me and it must be incredibly hard for them.

"I last spoke to Alec in May, from South Africa, and my condolences go out to his wife Katherine and his children."

Mutamam won the Canadian International in 2001 for Stewart, one of several top races jockey Richard Hills won for the handler.

"It's very sad. I have known him all my racing career," said Hills. "He was assistant to Tom Jones when I was an apprentice. I rode for him when he first started training and he gave me my first real chance when I won the Prince Of Wales's on Mtoto in 1987.

"Then there was Wagon Master and obviously Mutamam, who I won the International on in Canada, and there have been a lot of other great horses as well.

"He was a great friend, a greater trainer and will be sadly missed. It's terrible.

"I rode work for him on King George day and that was the last time I saw him."

Wagon Master also landed the Princess Of Wales's Stakes at Newmarket for the Bury Road handler under Hills, before going on to finish third to King's Theatre in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes.

Willie Carson rode a number of winners for Stewart, notably when partnering Wagon Master to victory in the Cumberland Lodge Stakes and the September Stakes.

Carson said: "He was so young. It was a brave battle he had, and my wife and I are very saddened from the news.

"He was a true gentleman, that's what he was.

"I don't know what to say, it's just very sad. I had the highest respect for him."

Stewart's smart stayer Braashee won the Prix Royal-Oak in 1990, while classy miler Waajib was too good for Soviet Star and Then Again in a thrilling renewal of the 1988 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Royston Ffrench rode regularly for Stewart in recent times.

"It was a shock to hear the news, I have worked for him for two or three years and he will be sadly missed," he said.

"When I was going through a bad patch, not knowing where my career was going, Mr Stewart took me under his wing and got me back going again, so I am very grateful.

"I've ridden quite a few winners for him and I rode a winner not so long ago on Mr Velocity at Redcar (June 19)."

Stewart's assistant trainer Ed Vaughan, who has been at Clarehaven stables for the past 18 months, has taken out a temporary licence and will run the yard to the end of the season.


Trainer Clive Cox revealed today that Ionian Spring will run in the £75,000 totesport Handicap Stakes (3.00pm) over an extended one mile and two furlongs at Haydock Park on Saturday.

The nine-year-old Ela-Mana-Mou gelding was ninth of 21 to Arcalis in the John Smith's Cup at York last month, when making good late headway after a tardy start. Ionian Spring won the Betfred The Bonus King Handicap over Saturday's course and distance, getting the better of Ofaraby by a short-head in a tremendous finish, on his penultimate outing (June 3).

"Ionian Spring is fine after York and he ran a tidy race there - he got a bit far back early but his actual finishing position was fairly reasonable and he was only beaten nine lengths," opined the Lambourn-based trainer.

"Obviously, that was a seriously competitive race as this is but he's a course and distance winner and the rain they've had will be in his favour - I think undoubtedly his best form is where there is a bit of moisture in the ground."

Ionian Spring was running off a handicap mark of 95 at York, having been raised 5lb for his earlier success at Haydock. He made a winning seasonal bow in a Newbury handicap off a rating of 85.

Cox continued: "He is nine and he's running on an all-time high handicap mark. These things are facts but, in the meantime, he's obviously running out of his skin and I'm looking forward to him competing on Saturday.

"It's a highly competitive contest but he's in good form and, if he confirms his recent runs, he'd have to be there with a chance."

The totesport Handicap Stakes has a safety limit of 20 runners but with a big entry of 40 received, a maximum or close-to-maximum field looks assured.

The Sir Mark Prescott-trained Coat Of Honour and Bonecrusher, trained by David Loder, first and third respectively in the Sterling Insurance Summer Stakes at Goodwood's July Meeting, are among the possibles as is the Luca Cumani-trained Starry Lodge, third in the John Smith's Cup, having been successful on his two previous starts at Newbury and Epsom.

Other entries to have won their last outing include the Mark Johnston-trained King Of Dreams, Sky Quest, handled by Peter Harris, the Don Eddy-trained Dunaskin, Richard Fahey's Opening Ceremony and the Gerard Butler-trained Ringsider.

Saturday's exciting seven-race programme is the third and final day of the three-day Haydock meeting which begins tomorrow (Thursday, August 5), continues on Friday evening, August 6, and reaches a crescendo on August 7.

The other feature event on Saturday is the £65,000 Group Three Petros Rose Of Lancaster Stakes (2.30pm) over the same distance of ome mile, two and a half furlongs, which has attracted 13 quality entries.

The John Dunlop-trained Muqbil has already been confirmed a likely contestant by John Dunlop's powerful Arundel stable, although Chancellor could run instead if the ground were to remain on the soft side.

Other highlights on Saturday's card are the opening £25,000-added coral.co.uk Handicap (1.55pm) over five furlongs which is a popular race with 37 five-day possibles, and the concluding Lester Piggott Rated Handicap (4.40pm) over a mile which received 35 entries.

Kirkland Tellwright, the clerk of the course at Haydock, revealed the current going as: "Good, Good to Soft in places - the Going Stick reading is 7.6" following rain.

He added: "The weather is hot and humid at the moment and there is the possibility of a thundery shower."


Brunel, winner of the German 2,000 Guineas earlier this year, runs in the Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest over six and a half furlongs at Deauville, France, on Sunday (August 8).

The distance will be the shortest the three-year-old Marju colt, trained by William Haggas, has attempted since his debut in July of last year.

But Harry Herbert, managing director of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing whose 15-share Niche Syndicate owns the classic winner, believes that it is the right decision to bring Brunel back in trip after his excellent fifth in the Group One St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, beaten two and a half lengths by Azamour.

"Brunel showed so much speed when making all in the Free Handicap at Newmarket over seven furlongs that we have every hope he will do well at this trip.

"We were considering running him at Goodwood last week over seven furlongs (in the Group Two Betfair Cup) but he would have had to give weight away because of his success at Group Two level.

"Anyway, after his good run at Ascot, we prefer to go for another Group One race and both Darryll Holland, who will ride Brunel again, and William Haggas think he has the necessary pace for six and a half furlongs."

Brunel will travel out to France on Friday evening and Harry Herbert is expecting an excellent turnout from the Niche Syndicate which also has another good horse in Motive, trained by Sir Michael Stoute.

He remarked: "When we went to Cologne for the German Guineas on May 16, 28 of those involved in the Niche Syndicate travelled over for a thrilling day and we are expecting another good turnout in France, with some flying over from Oxford for the day.

"Brunel is in very good form. He continues to make progress physically and his home work is excellent, having improved since Ascot."

HTR is the most successful racehorse multiple ownership operation in Europe and recently announced the launch of seven new syndicates for 2005.

There are a total of 127 shares available in the seven new syndicates with the price of a share ranging from £8,000 to £30,000 (plus VAT which is reclaimable). The share price covers all costs, including the purchase of the horses, until the end of 2005.

John Warren, a HTR director and leading bloodstock agent who is also Director of Bloodstock for Her Majesty The Queen's Royal Studs, and Harry Herbert will begin the search for yearlings at Deauville this month, followed by the Keeneland sale in America in September.

HTR has been consistently successful since it launched in 1992 - with the first runners in 1993 - and has produced champion racehorses like Lake Coniston, Tamarisk, Delilah and Petrushka.

Lake Coniston - European Champion Sprinter 1995
Lake Coniston was purchased for 22,000 guineas and sold for £2.45 million (pounds).

Tamarisk - Cartier European Champion Sprinter 1998
Tamarisk was bought for 78,000 guineas and sold for £3.5 million (pounds).

Delilah - European Champion Staying Filly 1998
Delilah cost 70,000 guineas and sold for US$550,000 (dollars).

Petrushka - Cartier European Champion Three Year Old Filly 2000
Petrushka cost 100,000 guineas and sold for US$5.250 million (dollars).

Highest, second in the 2002 St Leger, was subsequently purchased by
Godolphin for £1.7 million (pounds) while last year HTR sold two horses - Tiber and Saturn - to owners in Hong Kong for very substantial amounts, giving the shareowners in those syndicates a return.


The Newmarket Experience launches the new annual "Leaders of the Pack" Best Turned Out Competition

For the first time ever, The Newmarket Experience has invited 10 Newmarket Trainers to show their hacks at Newmarket Racecourse on Saturday, August 14, 2004. They will be taking part in the launch of the new "Leaders of the Pack" Best Turned Out Competition sponsored by The Newmarket Experience. Each Lad will receive £50 for their efforts and the winner will be awarded £500.The hacks will be parading in The Paddock at 1.15pm. David Smith, who is the day's racing commentator, will be introducing our stars to the crowd. The Newmarket Experience have invited Channel 4 racing presenter; Emma Ramsden, and top jockey's wives; Julie Fallon and Catherine Dettori. to judge the competition.

The Trainers entering their hacks include; Sir Michael Stoute, Luca Cumani, Ed Dunlop, David Loder, Henry Cecil, Neil Graham, Michael Bell, James Fanshawe and Mark Tompkins. Kribensis, who won the 1990 Champion Hurdle under Richard Dunwoody at Cheltenham, will be amongst the line up along with Travado, who Jamie Osbourne rode to win the 1993 Arkle also at Cheltenham.

"The event will give the public a rare opportunity to appreciate the unsung personalities of the racing world and give the forgotten hero's of the heath a chance to share some of the glory at the beautiful July Racecourse," commented Gaynor Haxby, Newmarket Racecourse's Marketing Manager.

Also taking place on the day will be exhibits, competitions and entertainments, in The Paddock Marquee as well as "Trips to the Start", 'Behind the Scenes Tours' and demonstrations on the Racehorse Simulator plus a chance for the public to take a turn at race riding the simulator under expert instruction.

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

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