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What a Wonderful day; It's ladies first as Cumani's reformed character puts on her best behaviour; to land a thrilling three-way photo-finish and get back on the winning trail.

LUCA CUMANI'S painstaking efforts to correct the behaviour of One So Wonderful produced a dividend rich and fulfilling when she clinched a gripping victory in the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at York yesterday, writes Jon Lees.

The filly with an attitude problem earlier in the season proved a model of composure in the heat of battle as she prevailed in a three-way photo- finish to a showpiece contest that connections initially feared she had lost to Faithful Son.

A comeback defeat in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes in May, when the blue- blooded home-bred became unduly upset during the preliminaries, was the one unsatisfactory blemish on an otherwise perfect racing record.

But One So Wonderful improved that to five wins from six starts with the most powerful performance of her career as she accounted for Faithful Son and Chester House by two short heads at the climax of one of the most exciting finishes of the season.

Frankie Dettori claimed he was headed three times on Faithful Son in the straight and a stride past the line the pair were in front again on the Godolphin challenger.

Yet One So Wonderful had her head down when it mattered to earn a second domestic Group 1 triumph of the season for Derby-winning trainer Luca Cumani.

Cumani said: "On the freeze-frame I could see Frankie's bottom was a long way ahead of ours. But then I remembered One So Wonderful is quite a long filly. It's nice to prepare yourself for second and then get first.

"She has always been highly promising. You don't compile a record of wins like hers without being very good.There has only been one blip and that came at Sandown where she remembered about racing but forgot how to behave.

"We've worked on that aspect since by getting her settled at home and used to going racing again with a nice confidence booster at Chepstow."

Winning jockey Pat Eddery, who was to receive an eight-day whip from the stewards, who also handed out suspensions to Dettori and Kieren Fallon, rider of the third, believes One So Wonderful could become a Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe contender.

"She's very honest and very game. They had her and she came back at them, just like she did in the Sun Chariot last year," he said. "She gave me everything and quickened all the way to the line. I know where the line is but I was trying to get the horse in front on it. It was tough but she had her head down and I think that's what won it.

"She's only had six races and there is no reason why she won't stay a mile and a half. I would like to think she can run in the Arc."

However, Cumani, though considering a step up in trip, may prefer other options for the Nashwan filly, who represents another triumph of breeding for the Meon Valley Stud in Hampshire.

"She could possibly move up to a mile and a half but we will pick our Group 1s carefully. The Irish Champion Stakes would be a possible and the Breeders' Cup," he added.

Without the benefit of a pacemaker, Faithful Son cut out the pace himself and again acquitted himself with honour.

Dettori said: "We were beaten three times but he battled back to the line. It was a bit unfortunate but he ran a very brave race despite being intimidated on both sides."

Chester House will stay in training with the aim of having another crack at the race.

"He gave away ground by hanging but when he fully matures I'm sure a top-class race will come his way," said Khalid Abdulla's racing manager Grant Pritchard-Gordon.

Olivier Peslier complained to the stewards to no avail that he was the victim of interference on Limpid, who was to finish fifth. "In France two horses would have been scratched, the winner and Fallon's mount. They caused big problems. I think we could have won," he complained.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Aug 19, 1998
Previous Article:The race when three were almost as one.
Next Article:Banning the whip a soft solution to the hard realities.

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