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Doncaster: La Cucaracha gives Hills the perfect present on his birthday.

Byline: er: Tony Elves

LA CUCARACHA made sure that Barry Hills's 68th birthday celebrations went with a bang when stepping out in style in the Listed Cammidge Trophy.

`Promise without luck' would have been the notes scribbled on her report last year, when she failed to add to her score in three outings, but Hills has never lost faith in her ability and everything clicked into place on this, her reappearance as a four-year-old.

The running had been made on the stands-side rails by High Voltage, with The Kiddykid close up, but Michael Hills was creeping into contention on the outside on La Cucaracha. The 16-1 shot struck the front a furlong out and galloped on strongly for a half-length success from The Kiddykid, with Look Here's Carol a length further back in third.

Hills said: ``She won her first two races but couldn't run in the Queen Mary, which was a shame, and has had a lot of problems. Last year she just got beat at Bath and then was shut in at Newbury, and wasn't striding out when third on her final run at Windsor in May and had a stress fracture. She went to [vet] Ian Wright in Newmarket. He did a great job and, hopefully, we will have a clean run with her this year.

``I thought she needed this race and we were going to take her back to Bath for the fillies' race. Hopefully, she will progress from this and we will be looking to the Duke of York Stakes at York. She has a lot of speed and won't want more than six furlongs.''

Nothing had gone right for Counsel's Opinion in the Winter Derby at Lingfield a fortnight earlier, when the front-running Eccentric had set a pace that suited only himself, but everything fell into place for Chris Wall's stable stalwart in the mile-and-a-half conditions stakes.

The gallop set by Compton Bolter in the six-runner field was a little more generous, and when George Baker asked Counsel's Opinion to pick up in the straight he had plenty of horse beneath him.

As the leader came off the rail at the two-furlong pole, Counsel's Opinion was perfectly placed to take advantage and, although pressed by the rallying Compton Bolter and Lochbuie, he held on gamely to score by a neck and a short head.

Wall said of the winner: ``We will see what the handicapper does. We had thought of running him in the City and Suburban, but having beaten those today, he may be out of all but the very top handicaps. We might try upping him to Listed class.''

Classic company could be the next step up for the Richard Hannon-trained Solent after he had clawed back a seemingly impossible divide in the mile conditions stakes under Dane O'Neill.

The 7-2 shot had plenty to do when the front-running Leo's Lucky Star increased the tempo with two furlongs to go. O'Neill had asked his mount for an effort with three furlongs to travel but it wasn't until the closing stages that Solent was in full flow and he got up close home to score by a neck.

Richard Hannon jnr, assistant to his father, said: ``Steve Knight, our head groom, has done a great job on Solent and has really got him settled now. He's in the Italian Guineas and we'll have a look at some nice races.''

Dusty City gave Bill Turner a welcome change of luck when coming out on top in the five-furlong maiden auction event.

The trainer had his horsebox stolen from the car park at 9am and had to get a spare set of colours sent post haste, but the 4-1 shot should have provided some welcome ammunition for a new van.

Turner said: ``It would have been the first time in eight years I haven't had a winner at this meeting if Dusty City hadn't won, and he's the dearest I've bought at 4,500gns. The Lord has also won his second race in a week at Kempton and, hopefully, we can buy another box now.''

Nelson de Souza received a seven-day ban after finishing second aboard Belly Dancer behind Cool Panic in the finale. Six days were for careless riding following an incident in which Sea Hunter gave apprentice Tom O'Brien a nasty fall. The remaining day was for not riding to his draw. He is banned for April 13-16 and 18-20. O'Brien was unhurt.at a glance

Star performance Newmarket vet Ian Wright, who sorted out Thursday's winner Merlin's Dancer and whose skills in the surgery also helped bring La Cucaracha back to her best If at first you don't succeed, try, try again Well done to Sir Michael Stoute, who notched his first Lincoln success with Stream Of Gold Credit where credit is due ``Robert thoroughly deserved that - he has put in a lot of hard work with us during January, February and March'' - Coral Pritchard-Gordon, partner of Sir Michael Stoute, after Robert Winston had ridden Stream Of Gold to victory in the Lincoln

m Results and analysis section starts page 29

CAPTION(S):

Jockeys George Baker and Darryll Holland (right) in silhouette as they leave the weighing room for the opener
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 3, 2005
Words:870
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