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Haydock: Masterclass from Fallon as he delivers three-timer.

Byline: Reporter: Tom O'Ryan

CONFIDENCE is a virtue among jockeys riding at the peak of their powers, as Kieren Fallon proved three times in Haydock's range of handicaps, which he secured in the most thrilling style aboard Texas Gold, Courageous Duke and Yorkshire Blue to complete a treble.

Courageous Duke, backed down to 7-2 favourite, had to overcome a tardy start in the pounds 80,000 Totesport Handicap, which saw him playing whipper-in to the 17-strong field until heads were turned for home.

Fallon, though, remained characteristically unflustered and brought the Jeremy Noseda-trained six-year-old with a long, sweeping run to strike the front half a furlong from the line and score by three-quarters of a length from Eccentric.

``The horse has done well.'' said Fallon. ``He usually breaks slow, although maybe not quite that slow. They went very quick and you can come from that far back when they go too fast. He hasn't won for two years, but he has a lot of ability.''

Fallon had started the day by performing an encore of his Stewards' Cup effort on Gift Horse when, after meeting trouble in running, he produced well-backed favourite Texas Gold - a Goodwood absentee because of unsuitable ground - with an equally withering late run to clinch the five-furlong handicap by half a length from Talbot Avenue in a race where none of the next 12 home were separated by more than a neck.

``I was a bit worried when Franny Norton's horse [Sumora] nearly came down in front of me approaching the final furlong, but my horse picked up like a real professional,'' said Fallon. ``He's a natural.''

Winning trainer William Muir was thrilled with Texas Gold, who he had fancied for the Stewards' Cup until the rain came.

Muir said: ``He doesn't like sticky ground, which was why we pulled him out. This isn't worth as much, but it's good to see him win, and he'll go for the Portland Handicap, in which he was just beaten last year after failing to get any cover from his low draw, which is crucial to him.''

Amir Quinn, rider of third-placed Forever Phoenix, was found guilty of careless riding and suspended for three days (August 17-19). Fallon again came from a seemingly impossible position aboard Yorkshire Blue in the six-furlong handicap, sneaking the Jim Goldie-trained favourite through on the stands' rail to clinch the spoils in the shadow of the post by a neck and the same from Adantino and Coranglais.

``I got lucky there,'' smiled Fallon. ``I had a lovely position, but I needed a split and if the leader [Coranglais] hadn't rolled away from the rails late on, I wouldn't have won. You need a bit of luck, sometimes!''

Brian Meehan suffered a defeat with the odds-on David Junior in the Rose of Lancaster Stakes, but the Lambourn trainer still recorded a milestone victory - his 600th domestic success - with Sleeping Storm in the six-furlong novice fillies' stakes.

Given a positive ride by Alan Munro, the daughter of Danehill Dancer dug deep when strongly tackled by Violette entering the last furlong to win by three-quarters of a length.

``I got her wrong taking her back to Newmarket over seven furlongs last time, because she didn't get up the hill,'' said Meehan, who rates the Cheveley Park entrant very highly. ``She's a stakes filly, there's no doubt about that,'' he said.

Mark Johnston took the mile handicap with Swiss 2,000 Guineas winner Royal Island, who turned in a gritty effort for a half-length success under Kevin Darley. ``He's been struggling against the handicapper since the end of his two-yearold days and it was difficult to know what merit there was in his performances in Switzerland, so it's nice to see him bounce back and win a decent race,'' said Johnston.

the day at a glance

Star performance

Kieren Fallon, who rode three cracking races to win on Texas Gold, Courageous Duke and Yorkshire Blue Milestone victory Brian Meehan, who took out a licence in 1993, recorded his 600th winner in Britain courtesy of Sleeping Storm Quote of the day ``A well-backed favourite - just what you want when you sponsor a pounds 25,000 handicap!'' - a half-joking Simon Clare of Coral after Kieren Fallon had produced Texas Gold to clinch a dramatic victory in the Coral Handicap

m Results and analysis start page 53


Kieren Fallon and Texas Gold in the winner's enclosure after their success in the opener
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Aug 7, 2005
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