Racing: Dunlop back to form

John Dunlop, who underwent life-saving heart surgery in the winter, showed he and his horses are back in good health by landing a 44-1 double with Kootenay and Flat Spin in the first Classic trials of the season at Kempton.

John Dunlop, who underwent life-saving heart surgery in the winter, showed he and his horses are back in good health by landing a 44-1 double with Kootenay and Flat Spin in the first Classic trials of the season at Kempton.

And the veteran trainer, now fully recovered from the ruptured aorta which put him close to death, made it a one-two in the Blue Square Masaka Stakes albeit in the wrong order as far punters were concerned.

Though his Red Liason started 7-2 favourite under Richard Quinn it was Kootenay, a 4-1 chance and the chosen mount of Pat Eddery, who landed the spoils.

The longer-priced filly made most of the running and held off her hard-pulling stable-companion by a length and a quarter, with the inexperienced Miss Pinkerton (5-1) just a head away in third.

‘‘I thought the winner probably had the better chance of our two,’’ Dunlop said. ‘‘There is not much between them at home but Red Liason was a bit too free first time out.

‘‘Pat went on as planned and his filly kept going it is a good track for leading. Pat was 50 last week but he is at the top of his form and the trainer is too! I am 110 per cent now, though I have got a filthy cold.’’

The Masaka is a theoretical trial for the Sagitta 1000 Guineas but none of the first three are engaged in the Newmarket Classic.

‘‘I don’t think either of ours would be good enough for the English Guineas,’’ Dunlop added. ‘‘The winner could go for the Italian Guineas, or she might go up to a mile and a quarter for the Pretty Polly Stakes.’’

Eddery has faith in Kootenay’s stamina and said: ‘‘When she sees them coming she goes again she will get further.’’

Kieren Fallon was on board 8-1 shot Flat Spin, who came from last at halfway to lead a furlong out in the Blue Square Interactive TV Easter Stakes and score by two lengths from Angelus Sunset (8-1), with 13-8 favourite Redback the same distance back in third.

‘‘They went quickly and that suited him,’’ Dunlop reflected. ‘‘He quickened very impressively and Kieren was very pleased.

‘‘He is in the Italian and German 2000 Guineas and we will see what happens.

‘‘He won’t want to have too many runs too quickly but he is a nice horse.

‘‘I thought he was a good horse when he won first time out last year and he disappointed after that.

But he got trouble in running next time and he was coughing after his last run.’’

Fallon added: ‘‘The way he switched off he should get further. But he has got lots of toe.’’

Dunlop’s 9-2 favourite Caqui d’Or could finish only fifth behind Tender Trap (16-1) in the Queen’s Prize.

The winner, who cruised into the lead 300 yards out, gave his backers a fright when he collided with the rails just over a furlong out and then jumped a path but he kept going strongly to hold off Tees Components by a neck.

Referring to the late scare, jockey Gary Carter said: ‘‘The rail comes out a bit but I don’t know why he did it. I thought he was going to jump it!’’

Tender Trap had not won a race on turf previously and owner/trainer Terry Mills admitted the four-year-old had been frustrating.

‘‘He works like a Group horse in behind at home but as soon as he goes two strides past he thinks he has done enough,’’ Mills said. ‘‘That’s why he needs to lead as late as possible and I thought he went plenty early enough today.

‘‘He is like a big baby but he could still be a big horse.’’

Eddery completed a 7½-1 double on Kaieteur, who is to be aimed at the French Derby after the 8-11 favourite’s two-and-a-half-length defeat of Harnour in the the 10 furlong Blue Square Conditions Stakes.

A relieved winning trainer Brian Meehan said: ‘‘It is very hard when you are odds-on and you have big plans but he has justified all that we thought of him over the winter.

‘‘The plan is a trial race and then the French Derby, with the trial probably in France as we have got to see how he travels.

‘‘He came off the turn here on the wrong leg and he took time to switch but Pat was always confident of winning.

‘‘We always thought he was very good and today it looks like we were right. But now he has got to step up to pattern company.’’

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