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Romance sinks aces to pull off massive Cheveley Park upset.


SOME top reputations were battered yesterday as 40-1 chance Magical Romance caused the biggest shock in the Cheveley Park Stakes since 1945.

The line-up for the Sky Bet-sponsored six-furlong contest included unbeaten duo Suez and Damson, already a Group 1 winner, plus the Lowther and Cherry Hinton Stakes heroines Soar and Jewel In The Sand.

But the big names had their 1,000 Guineas credentials blown out the water by the unconsidered Brian Meehan-trained filly, who proved a neck too strong for Suez at the line.

However, one reputation that grew in stature was that of Robert Winston, who took full advantage of a chance Group 1 ride to showcase his considerable strength in the saddle.

Winston was only contacted on Wednesday night to deputise for Jimmy Fortune, who received a kick in the stomach at Salisbury when about to mount Ancient Egypt in the paddock.

stomach of another kind for Fortune.

'This feels normal - well you've got to keep ice-cool about these things, haven't you?' joked Winston, who only rode his first Pattern winner on Golden Nun in Ireland in June.

'It is really nice to win this but I do feel sorry for Jimmy, he's been very unlucky.'

It was some feat by Magical Romance, the biggest-priced winner of the contest since World War Two, and her performance only confused the 1,000 Guineas market.

Meehan has never been one for reputations. Much in the Clive Brittain line of thinking, he is not one for missing his seat at the top table, and while Magical Romance's huge odds and modest Class D nursery victory at Leicester off a mark of 83 offered little encouragement, Meehan was not completely surprised by the result.

'I thought we'd be in the first four,' he said.

'I've always thought a lot of her, that's why we ran her in the Princess Margaret, but she came back a bit jarred up from that.

'We thought we'd get her confidence up at Leicester for this. Robert rode her then, so he was the obvious replacement.

'He gave her a good, confident ride, but I feel sorry for Jimmy as he's put himself out a lot for the yard.'

Suez set the pace under Philip Robinson and looked like grimly holding on with a furlong to go, but Winston, whose mount was outpaced going down the hill, picked up the pace coming back up it to wear down the leader.

The favourite Damson loomed dangerously two furlongs from home on the outside, but then subsided all too readily.

Trainer David Wachman feels it may have been a race too many for the third, while Soar was hugely disappointing, managing only sixth.

Contrary to the way they finished, bookmakers have not lost faith in the second and third.

William Hill have only lengthened Damson a point to 8-1 for the Guineas and left Suez unchanged at 12-1 behind the market leader, Pascal Bary's Divine Proportions.

Yesterday's winner is as big as 25-1 (from 40) with Coral.

Meehan thinks that might be a touch generous, and said: 'I feel she is a Guineas filly. 'She wobbled at the top of the hill, but that was through inexperience. She'll definitely stay, and Robert agrees with me.'
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 1, 2004
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