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Englands superfilly Pebbles put down in Japan aged 24; Her Br eeders Cup victory must be among the greatest days of my career, what she did was something special - Clive Brittain.

Byline: LEE MOTTERSHEAD

PEBBLES, one of the greatest fillies to grace the modern era and the first British-trained horse to win a Breeders' Cup race, has died aged 24.

T rained throughout her career by Clive Brittain, Pebbles assured herself of turf immortality when unleashing a sensational burst of speed to land the Breeders' Cup Turf at Aqueduct in 1985, in the process earning the tag "England's superfilly" from the American commentator.

She was retired from breeding three years ago, having failed to produce anything remotely as talented as herself, and was put down due to the infirmities of old age at Darley's Fukumitsu Farm in Japan, where she had been since 1996.

"She was just unbelievable - a great character," said Brittain yesterday. "I've been so lucky to have great fillies like User Friendly, Sayyedati and Crimplene, but she was unique - she was a class above everything else."

A daughter of Sharpen Up out of the Brittain-trained La Dolce, Pebbles finished second in the 1983 Cheveley Park Stakes and then confirmed her potential by winning the 1984 Nell Gwyn Stakes, a victory that secured her participation in the following month's 1,000 Guineas.

Sent off at 8-1 for the Classic, she carried Philip Robinson to an impressive three-length defeat of Meis El-Reem, soon after which she was sold by her breeder Marcos Lemos to Sheikh Mohammed.

P ebbles's three-year-old season was com-pleted with second-place finishes in both the Coronation Stakes and Champion Stakes, but much better was to come at four.

Following an easy win in the Trusthouse Forte Mile at Sandown, Pebbles was outpointed by Bob Back in the Prince of Wales's Stakes. However, she had her Royal Ascot conqueror behind her when she toyed with Rainbow Quest to win the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown.

Her rider that day, Steve Cauthen, was back on his Derby-winning mount Slip Anchor when Pebbles returned in the Champion, but Cauthen's loss was Pat Eddery's gain, as Pebbles produced a scintillating performance to beat Slip Anchor by three lengths. Her subsequent Aqueduct success gave her an eighth victory in the 15th and final race of her career.

"When she won the Eclipse she made the colts like Rainbow Quest look like hacks," added Brittain. "Then at Newmarket in the Champion Stakes she beat a real good field and made them look like platers. What she showed that day was her amazing speed, and that was her secret - her cantering speed was the same as most horses' flat-out speed.

"Her Breeders' Cup victory must be among the greatest days of my career. No English horse had ever won a Breeders' Cup race before and what she did was something special. The mere fact that she was favourite was amazing, and the locals said she couldn't win from stall 14, but Pat stayed cool and she outspeeded them up the straight."

P ebbles was voted the 39th most popular horse in British and Irish history, according to the Post's 100 Favourite Horses series last year.

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Pebbles wins the 1985 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, in the process making the "colts look like hacks"
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Sep 10, 2005
Words:518
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