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RACING: Eddery delighted by double success.

Byline: William Hayler

Soon-to-retire Pat Eddery lit up Newmarket on Saturday with a double highlighted by his first ever victory in the Tote Cesarewitch.

Nicky Henderson's decision to switch jaded hurdler Landing Light to Flat racing paid dividends as the 12-1 chance took the marathon race in the hands of the 11-times champion jockey.

It was an appropriate success on Champions' Day as Eddery steered the winner to victory.

Despite being drawn right on the far side in stall 36, Eddery somehow managed to end up on the opposite side of the track, closest of all to the stands rail, as he swooped to lead two furlongs out and went away from his rivals to win by two-and-a-half lengths.

Sun Bird (33-1) got the better of a photo-finish for the runner-up spot, beating 50-1 chance Kristensen by a neck, with last year's runner-up Direct Bearing (8-1) plugging on for fourth, having been badly outpaced half-a-mile from home.

Henderson explained that Landing Light had been switched to race on the Flat because he seemed to lose his way when racing over hurdles last season.

'He looked as if he was starting to get a bit tired of jumping and maybe a bit knowing,' he said.

'The idea was to give him a bit of a sweetener, but it seems to have been a rather larger sweetener than we were expecting!

'We were talking about going chasing with him this season but I think that might be on hold now. I just hope he might come back and start enjoying hurdles again.'

Bookmakers quote him at 20-1 to win the Champion Hurdle next March.

'Pat knows a lot more about Flat racing than I do and he gave him a brilliant ride. Hopefully this is a good sign for the jumps season as most of my team are about to start coming out in force.'

Eddery, whose previous best in the Cesarewitch was second place on both Valuable Witness and Jamesmead, said: 'I've waited long enough to win it. I've been in it nearly every year.

'This horse gave me a great ride. Nicky told me to cover him up and I was little bit worried I may have got there a bit too early, but he stays well.

'The field spread out in the straight and I just kept going. It all worked out well.'

Sun Bird is also going hurdling but may have one more run on the Flat in a Listed race at Musselburgh on November 5, a race which is also under consideration for third-placed Kristensen, provided he isn't sold first.

'The horse hasn't had a race,' said trainer Don Eddy.

'He was on the far side, which didn't help. When he hits the front too early he thinks he has done enough.

'He is in the sales on Monday --it's the only way we can survive.'

Eddery was on the mark earlier when Just James sprang a 16-1 surprise in the Victor Chandler Challenge Stakes.

The 51-year-old rider brought Jeremy Noseda's four-year-old from last to first to get home by half-a-length from Nayyir in a blanket finish. Arakan was a neck back in third.

CAPTION(S):

Pat Eddery aboard Landing Light after victory in the Tote Cesarewitch at Newmarket on Saturday; Picture/GETTY IMAGES
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 20, 2003
Words:547
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