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Horse Racing: one for Heffernan as he rides his first British winner; YORK.

Byline: by David Carr

RAIN or not, July is turning into a memorable month for Ballydoyle jockey Seamie Heffernan, who followed up his Irish Derby victory by landing his first winner in Britain on Theann in the inaptly named Summer Stakes.

Things were not as clear-cut as Soldier Of Fortune's nine-length Curragh romp this time but his fellow three-year-old looked a class act under a jockey who had drawn a blank in around two dozen previous rides on this side of the Irish Sea.

The 5-1 shot had shown she can handle testing conditions when finishing fifth in a soft-ground Cheveley Park Stakes last autumn, and though she had managed only tenth when returned to Newmarket for the 1,000 Guineas on a firm surface in the spring, the filly ploughed through the mud to score by two and a half lengths.

"She's a funny little thing," Heffernan said of the winner. "She's been there all year, working nicely, but in the last cou ple of weeks she has just really started sparkling.

"It is tough going out there in the conditions but she handled them really well and she won easily."

It was third time lucky for the family as Theann's dam Cassandra Go had finished fourth in the same race in 1999 and second the following year.

Mudlark European Dream could be set for a step up to Listed company following his success under top weight in the 1m1f handicap which he only ran in after continual rain caused an interruption to his intended mid-season holiday.

John Wainwright saddled favourite Gunfighter in the 7f handicap but it was his longer-priced contender Riquewihr who took the prize by a short head from Sake.

"The ground has just come right for her and the other one didn't stay in the ground," said the trainer, who revealed that the winner is in foal to Monsieur Bond.

Kim Tinkler was banned for two days (July 24 & 25) for using the whip with excessive frequency on the runner-up.

The soft ground made the 7f maiden a gruelling test for two-year-olds and few proved up to the challenge, with the Andrew Balding-trained Donegal coming home a seven-length winner from Transmission and the rest beaten a further 13 lengths and more.

The winner had finished second on his debut on good ground at Sandown but Balding's father Ian said: "I wasn't worried about the ground for him as he has always looked as though he would handle it. He is a beautiful mover but that doesn't necessarily mean he won't go on soft ground.

"I think he is a very nice two-year-old and I hope he will go on to better things, probably over a mile next time."

Mutajarred bounded to a nine-length win in the 1m handicap for three-year-olds but it was only by a length that Highland Warrior landed his second win of the season in the 5f handicap.

Star performance

Seamie Heffernan, who broke his British duck on Theann

What's in a name?

There could hardly have been a less fitting day to run the Summer Stakes, with rain falling all afternoon and the runners ploughing through ground more suitable for a winter jumps card

Where are the grouse?

A caption on close-circuit television described the ground as "good to soft on the seven-furlong shoot"
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 14, 2007
Words:553
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