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Continent is a winner worth waiting for.

Byline: JON LEES

DAVID NICHOLLS and Darryll

Holland celebrated an unexpected

international sprinting triumph

with Continent yesterday that for

fully 15 minutes Italian rivals were claiming as their own, having pre-empted the outcome of a three-way photo finish.

Trainer, jockey and owner Edward St George looked on from the runner-up spot while Mirco Demuro performed a spectacular dismount in celebration of what he believed was an important win for Italy on Slap Shot in the Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp Majestic Barriere.

To tumultuous applause, Demuro stood on his saddle and leapt to the ground to receive the congratulations of the connections of the Luigi

Riccardi-trained `winner'. The horse had returned from the track sporting the winner's rug on his back, and a delighted Riccardi even had time to give a winners' interview.

Yet all the while there was the small matter of the official result and, to Italian embarrassment, after lengthy study of the print, Continent was called the winner by a nose from Slap Shot with Zipping a short head back in third and Bahamian Pirate fourth.

An astonished Holland had to be retrieved from the weighing room to receive his prize for Britain's first

success in the Group 1 sprint since 1998.

"I honestly thought we were second," he said. "Frankie Dettori asked me if I was sure, but when I saw the winner's flying dismount I thought I was definitely second and accepted defeat."

Nicholls, who was second with

Bahamian Pirate in the race a year ago, was equally surprised.

"I'm a bit gobsmacked," he said. "I thought he was beaten. I'm going to go and have a drink now.

"He's an amazing horse and he

defied all those things like the going, the draw and the trip."

Continent, winner of the July Cup in the summer, will now seek further big-race glory in the Hong Kong Sprint in December, but plans are

uncertain for Slap Shot, whose shell-shocked trainer departed to reflect on his 15 minutes of fame during which he believed he had secured his first Group win.

Zipping, who finished fourth in the 2,000 Guineas earlier this season,

is destined to meet Continent in Hong Kong and stays in training next year.

CAPTION(S):

David Nicholls: "I thought he was beaten"
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 7, 2002
Words:379
Previous Article:Where did that come from?; O'Brien colt produces amazing burst to leave connections pondering Arlington bid.
Next Article:Perfections 4-1 for Classic after flawless effort; Filly's 1,000 Guineas odds slashed following Group 1 win.


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