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Horse Racing: Les Arcs and Pitt complete the most improbable of journeys.

Byline: Jon Lees reports

AUSTRALIANS don't have the monopoly on heart-warming success stories at Royal Ascot, as Tim Pitt proved when he completed the latest improbable act of giant-killing in front of a record Saturday crowd of 60,595 yesterday.

A year ago Pitt could be found at work in the jumps yard of Colin Tinkler and, incredibly, the 33-1 winner Les Arcs was once tailed off in a maiden hurdle at Cartmel.

Yesterday Pitt held court in racing's most prized winner's circle, as architect of the reconstruction of Les Arcs from unknown to potential champion sprinter, grateful he had taken the trouble to answer an advert in the Racing Post to train for football agent Willie McKay.

The nags-to-riches triumph of Takeover Target from Australia, trained by taxidriving, caravan-dwelling Joe Janiak, in the King's Stand Stakes had earned deserved plaudits four days earlier but this time the seven-year-old gelding had no answer to the finishing kick of Les Arcs (behind him on Tuesday) in the six-furlong Golden Jubilee Stakes.

Takeover Target finished third as Les Arcs, jockey John Egan's second 33-1 winner of the week, swept up his inside to grab the Group 1 prize by a neck from Balthazaar's Gift.

And a delighted Egan said: "That was the best feeling in my life ever. It was just unbelievable for Willie, Tim and the whole team - they work very hard."

When Pitt was installed at McKay's stables at Bawtry, Doncaster, less than a year ago, he inherited a small string that included Les Arcs.

Trained as a three-year-old by John Gosden for Sheikh Mohammed, Les Arcs was with Richard Guest from 2004 until October last year, his campaign including a run in a Cartmel maiden hurdle, in which he finished last of eight finishers.

Under Pitt, Les Arcs has now won six times, contributing the lion's share of the 31-year-old trainer's nine career wins that also include a Chester Cup success with Admiral.

"It was last August I drove up to Martin Grange Farm [previous base of Vicky Haigh]," said Pitt. "It was a shell of a place but Willie had some great ideas. John Egan was along as well and I envisioned myself chipping away with about ten or 12 horses.

"My first runner was in a banded race at Southwell and I never thought I would get this far so quickly. When I got the licence I had eight or nine horses.

"The Chester Cup has been good to me and I've got five more horses out of that, and we have 27 now. We'll walk before we can run. Willie McKay is behind me 110 per cent."

McKay said: "Tim Pitt is an exceptional trainer. He's going places."

Les Arcs had finished 11th behind Takeover Target on Tuesday without being beaten far, and victory yesterday made a crack at the Darley July Cup inevitable.

Pitt added: "Six furlongs is his better trip. The obvious place to go is the July Cup. On Tuesday we were looking to go abroad and down the handicap route after he'd been dropped to 110."

Balthazaar's Gift finished fast from the rear to take second, two lengths ahead of Takeover Target, with Ashdown Express fourth and Amadeus Wolf, stablemate of the runner-up, fifth.

Trainer Kevin Ryan said: "It was a great run from Balthazaar's. That's the way to ride him, but with that sort of ride you need a bit of luck in running. He's a top-class horse and I think ground a little easier would have helped him. Amadeus Wolf also ran a blinder and it's nice to have two such nice horses."

Chris Wall, who trains the third, said: "The way the sprint division is at the moment, you can take on these horses in a conditions race or a Group 1, so you might as well do it in a Group 1. He probably needed the run on Tuesday."

Alan Munro was suspended for two days (July 5-6) for careless riding on Ashdown Express.


Delight in the Royal Ascot winner's enclosure with trainer Tim Pitt (dark glasses), groom Dawn Watson, jockey John Egan and owner Willie McKay after Les Arcs' Golden Jubilee success
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 25, 2006
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