Bookies wary of Spinner Champion bid

Leg Spinner was given a quote of just 33-1 for the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle after storming to victory on the Flat in the £2.5m totescoop6 Cesarewitch at Newmarket.

Leg Spinner was given a quote of just 33-1 for the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle after storming to victory on the Flat in the £2.5m totescoop6 Cesarewitch at Newmarket.

A winner of the Ascot Stakes when it was run at York two years ago, Tony Martin’s charge went off a 14-1 chance in the second leg of the autumn double only because his trainer had expressed fears about the cut in the ground.

Martin knew he had Leg Spinner ready to run for his life, but was not sure whether the sunshine of the past two days had done enough to dry out conditions on the Rowley Mile course.

He need not have worried, however, as Johnny Murtagh was always in a menacing position stalking the leaders and did not take long to claim Caracciola in the final furlong, the combination eventually scoring by three-quarters of a length.

Martin said: “Fortunately the ground had dried up and luck was on our side.

“We’ll be very careful what we do. He’s too small to jump fences so he’ll stay over hurdles, but we’ll be looking for decent ground wherever we go.”

The season’s showpiece finale went to the French as Literato battled his way to victory in the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes.

And there was no happier man after the grey tenaciously saw off Murtagh and Aidan O’Brien’s Eagle Mountain by a short head than trainer Jean-Claude Rouget, whose first win on British soil was coming in Group One company.

The three-year-old has won four of his six starts this term, with one of his two defeats coming when he lost out to Lawman in the Prix du Jockey-Club.

He lined up with a wealth of support behind him as the 7-2 second favourite and his rider Christophe Lemaire – successful in this race 12 months ago on Pride - set sail for home two furlongs out.

Rouget said: “We were more confident of a place than a win, so this is a great moment.

“We will discuss whether he stays in training. I would like to, but when you have had a campaign like this it is sometimes hard to do it again.”

O’Brien expects big things from Rockfel Stakes winner Kitty Matcham next year and there was no wonder the filly drew quotes of 20-1 with the sponsors and Blue Square and 25-1 from William Hill for next year’s Stan James 1,000 Guineas.

She is 20-1 for the Oaks with Paddy Power.

The 10-1 chance completed a double for Murtagh as she gamely held the renewed challenge of Missit by a neck.

O’Brien said: “Her mother (Imagine) and father (Rock Of Gibraltar) improved loads from two to three and she has the qualities of both of them.”

Royal And Regal came to the rescue of favourite-backers in the Jockey Club Cup when responding to the urgings of Stephane Pasquier to hold Balkan Knight by a length and a quarter, with Miss Lucifer having given the bookies a dream start to the day when posting a 20-1 success over Al Qasi and Toylsome in the VC Bet Challenge Stakes.

Michael Hills’ mount mastered Toylsome at the Bushes and stayed on strongly to hold the unlucky-in-running Al Qasi by a length and a quarter.

Al Qasi, under Ted Durcan, was hampered by Toylsome when making his run but the interference did not affect the result.

Trainer Barry Hills will now bid farewell to Miss Lucifer, who goes straight to Godolphin.

Durcan, also narrowly beaten in the Dewhurst on Fast Company, gained some compensation when Greek Renaissance (12-1) came with a late surge to take the closing Igloos Bentinck Stakes for Godolphin.

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