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King George Head to Heads: Carson at his tactical best on Ela-Mana-Mou.

Byline: RODNEY MASTERS

All too often over the decades in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, races feverishly billed as `head-to-head' showdowns were to prove hopelessly vulnerable to litigation under the Trades Descriptions Act.

Usually for no salient reason, and much to the public's dismay, one of the pair invariably performed way below expectation.

It occurred that way time and time again, and there was another glaring example in 1980 when favourite Le Marmot ran way short of his best, never threatening at any stage as he trailed in fifth behind an inspired Willie Carson on Ela-Mana-Mou.

So much more had been expected of Le Marmot, who had finished runner-up to Three Troikas in the previous autumn's Arc, and then gained revenge on the winner in the following year's Prix Ganay.

However, even at the top of his form the French colt would have been troubled to master Ela-Mana-Mou, on whom Carson, winner of four Classics and the champion jockeys' title that year, was at his tactical best, expertly utilising the colt's stamina and battling qualities to counter a possible lack of finishing pace.

When Carson kicked for home half a mile out, the hapless Le Marmot was already on the retreat. Carson pinched a clear advantage over the pack, but inside the final

furlong Ela-Mana-Mou looked in dire trouble

when the Lester Piggott-ridden Mrs Penny

loomed up menacingly to the colt's quarters, apparently travelling the better.

But Ela-Mana-Mou refused to be denied and held on bravely for a three-quarter-length win. It was

a further five lengths

back to Gregorian.

Prior to that season, Ela-Mana-Mou had raced out of Guy Harwood's stable in the colours of Mrs Andry Muinos, who had purchased him for 4,500gns as a yearling.

Sold by Muinos at the end of his three-year-old career in a half-million-pound deal with Tim Rogers, of Airlie Stud in Ireland, and the

Weinstock family, the colt was moved to Hern, who improved him by around 7lb to win four races in a row in the changed silks, including the Eclipse, and also to finish a narrowly beaten third to Detroit in the Arc.

When Carson first rode him in the Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket's Craven meeting, he expressed a concern that the colt may be troubled by a shoulder problem because he didn't travel smoothly down the hill.

Lord Weinstock remembers: "An American vet thought there was something wrong with his back. But Dick [Hern] engaged a person who'd been treating him at Harwood's. Willie got on with the horse and Dick understood him, so between them they

knew exactly what to

do."

He was syndicated to stand in Ireland, with a capital value of

pounds 3.2 million.

CAPTION(S):

Ela-Mana-Mou battles on from Mrs Penny to win the 1980 King George. Favourite Le Marmot was a well-beaten fifth
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 25, 2001
Words:476
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