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Tamarisk races to Charlton rescue; Beckhampton trainer enjoys overdue change of luck as July Cup runner-up grabs Group 1 glory; runner-up grabs Group 1 glory - but handicapper still has Elnadim rated higher.

TAMARISK led the Roger Charlton stable out of the competitive doldrums with a blistering charge to victory in the Stanley Leisure Sprint Cup on Saturday.

The three-year-old left the winners of the season's other top sprints toiling in his wake at Haydock-but not by enough to top the European sprint rankings.

In what was only his second effort at top-level sprinting, Tamarisk led from start to finish to beat Bolshoi by a length and three-quarters with Tomba third.

The 4-1 favourite Elnadim disappointed again, beating just one finisher.

But, in handicapper Phil Smith's provisional assessment of the race, Tamarisk's new rating of 120 is still 2lb inferior to Elnadim, who conquered him in the July Cup.

"Tamarisk has improved 2-3lb every time he has run. Hopefully he will go on improving and it's good to have a three-year-old rated so high," explained Smith.

"But people forget that Elnadim put up what many thought was an outstanding performance at Newmarket and I still believe that, even though he has not done his stuff at Haydock.

"I've not discussed this with my colleagues and the figure is subject to review, but I believe the July Cup had a slightly stronger field."

Tamarisk's terrific performance rescued Charlton's Beckhampton yard from a season of embarrassing mediocrity as he secured the trainer's first Group 1 success for seven years.

Charlton was assistant to the late Jeremy Tree when the stable produced Dowsing and Danehill to land the Sprint Cup in successive years and this 14th win of the season lifted spirits considerably.

"This can be a tough game when things are not going well. I would normally expect to have something between 40 and 50 winners in a year.

"But it's been desperate simply because I've had a lot of bad horses so the yard was pretty disillusioned," he said.

"So to have a horse as good as Tamarisk in a string of largely moderate horses has not made him easy to train. But it helps lift the pressure when you have a winner like this."

Tamarisk, owned by the successful Highclere Thoroughbred Racing syndicate that campaigned Lake Coniston, flirted with classic company early in the season.

But following his defeat in the 2,000 Guineas it became apparent that he had speed to burn.

He was dropped in trip to win a Listed race at Lingfield before finishing runner-up to Elnadim in the July Cup.

Along with the connections of Elnadim, Charlton worried about the threat of rain in the north-west, but, while it fell elsewhere, the weather stayed fine.

Smartly away from the stalls under Tim Sprake, Tamarisk had establish a clear lead well over a furlong out and then stretched away for a comfortable victory.

King's Stand Stakes winner Bolshoi produced his customary late finish to claim second with Tomba half a length back in third and Andreyev fourth.

But Lochangel, the Nunthorpe Stakes winner, was sixth and Elnadim 12th of 13.

Charlton added: "The horse had had the perfect preparation.

"He'd improved all year, looked better than ever and was training better than ever, so I was pretty confident we had a horse that would take all the beating.

"But listening to the farming forecast last Sunday they said it was going to be wet, and other forecasts also indicated it would rain in the Haydock area.

"It's been something of a miracle that they haven't had any rain."

Tamarisk could now contest the Group 1 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp on October 18 over seven furlongs, a trip over which he scored twice last year before finishing second to Xaar in the Dewhurst Stakes.

"It's Group 1s for him now on and the ground will have to be right for him to run again. Otherwise, I would think that would be it for jockeys to be frightened of next year," said Charlton.

"He's an exciting proposition. He has a very good pedigree and is probably the soundest horse I've had anything to do with.

"The only time he hasn't run well is in the 2,000 Guineas. I still think he's immature, he's only run in two other proper sprints and I see no reason why he shouldn't continue to improve."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Lees, Jon
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Sep 7, 1998
Previous Article:Brave Bolshoi earns his Breeders' Cup chance.
Next Article:Tim proves he is still a bright spark; MAN IN THE NEWS: Tim Sprake.

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