Kinane resumes normal service
IRISH champion jockey Mick Kinane returned to active service yesterday with a highly impressive winner and was denied a comeback double by the narrowest possible margin in the Derby Day nightcap.
The 34-year-old international star has been out of action since an early February fall from House Honour at Happy Valley and was returning yesterday after a three-week break that had its share of pain and frustration.
But much of that was behind him when Ready (12-1) staged a grandstand finish to mow down the opposition and win the featured Sandown Park Challenge Cup, fifth event on yesterday's card.
The outer London racetrack was the scene of one of Kinane's more significant victories last year when he captured the Coral-Eclipse on Opera House, his first major British ride for Sheik Mohammad.
Executives of the track were on hand for the presentation but the successful comeback meant more to Kinane than the impressive trophy.
He said: ''It is no fun being on the sidelines and early on it was extremely painful. It is the worst fall that I have experienced but you simply have to put it behind you and get on with the job.'' Kinane had little luck in the Derby where he partnered Smiling for trainer Peter Ng Bik-kuen but retaining trainer David Oughton has come up with a good one in Ready, who could not have been more impressive when quickening up to scorch past favourite Lucky Clover (3-1) and win going away.
This was a Classes One and Two, 1,800-metre event and on this showing Ready is going to make his presence felt in other suitable races this campaign.
The Stewards reviewed the gelding's most recent run and interviewed trainer Oughton who informed them that his instructions had been to drop the horse out but there had been no early pace and the jockey was unable to settle the gelding further back.
With a good pace yesterday and Melbourne Cup-winning star Kinane aboard, there were no problems in settling the four-year-old well back.
When unleashed by Kinane he simply reeled in Lucky Clover, who only just held on to second by a short head from 99-1 bolter Best One.
Said Kinane: ''I haven't really been on him because I have been off for so long but I always thought he was the right type of horse for here. He won a good Curragh handicap in Ireland and it has just taken time.'' Kinane was denied a double when Australian ace John Marshall got the very last ounce out of Asian Glory (8-1) in the Class Four, 1,600-metre last event.
Kinane was on the vastly improved Invincible (4-1) who had it won everywhere but the line. Asian Glory, ridden right up on the pace, kept on battling on the inside of Invincible and Marshall, with a last crack of the whip, got him up.
Trainer John Moore explained: ''I said to John [Marshall] that with his weight and the way in which he had worked for us earlier in the week, it was well worth taking him to the front.'' The big disappointment was Aurora Spirit (5-2 favourite) who was expected to give Tony Cruz a last-race win.
Cruz had him well placed to run on and do something but there was nothing really there when the question was popped and Aurora Spirit finished a poor eighth.
Colour Picture (5-1) also came to win it for Gerald Mosse but the five-year-old seemed disinclined to go right through with the task. He was shaded out of third spot by Ellen's Voyage (25-1).