William Haggas felt Al Aasy lacked a little fitness after a lacklustre seasonal bow at Newmarket – yet he need not have worried as the six-year-old bounced back to take the bet365-sponsored Steventon Stakes at Newbury.
A market drifter, the 100-30 chance clearly had one of his going days, locking on to the bridle early in the 10-furlong contest for Jim Crowley and travelling kindly throughout.
Phantom Flight made the early running and had all bar Al Aasy at it with two furlongs to race, although he was soon easily passed by the Shadwell-owned winner, who went on to score by a length and a half.
He will now head to Haydock for the 10-furlong Group Three Betfred Rose of Lancaster Stakes, according to Haggas, who said: “He was good today and they badgered me to run over a mile and a quarter and I wouldn’t do it, but I finally succumbed and that clearly, now aged six, appears to be his trip.
“It is probably that they go a little bit faster and they help him to relax and he did it well, did it comfortably – but he should have done on the ratings.
“He will go for the Rose of Lancaster at Haydock on August 12.
“It has been a battle with him, both mentally and physically. Everything. Mentally he is not straightforward. He has had a couple of injuries, but he’s coming. He doesn’t look right in his skin still, but he’s coming.”
Sketch will take a step up in class after making an impressive winning debut under Tom Marquand in division one of the bet365 EBF Novice Stakes.
The Showcasing colt cost 100,000 guineas as a yearling and impressed when winning by five lengths for co-trainers Martyn and Freddie Meade, having made virtually all the running.
Marquand said: “To be fair, they said he had been going nicely beforehand and they have proven in the past they can get their two-year-olds ready.
“What surprised me was how quickly he got going and put the race to bed. For his first time, he was extremely professional and did everything right, and killed the race pretty quickly.”
Freddie Meade said connections could look at Goodwood next for the 15-2 winner.
“We will push him up in class,” he said. “The Richmond is the obvious choice, but whether that comes a bit quick I don’t know.
“We will look at stakes races and see what suits. We were tempting fate to put him in a couple of races in France which closed this week before he’d run, but it is possible we’ll look there as well.”
Sweet William was made 10-1 co-favourite for the Ebor with Paddy Power after following up his recent Doncaster handicap debut success in some style under Rab Havlin in the Mettal UK Handicap.
However, owner Philippa Cooper is not keen on the idea of taking the John and Thady Gosden-trained four-year-old to York despite his cosy three-length success.
“I don’t think he can get into the Ebor. I’m not an Ebor girl, anyway. I know my husband would love it,” she said.
Havlin added: “He can be a bit of a character, but he seems to be getting it together at the races with the blinkers on.
“A step up in trip has obviously brought about a bit of improvement. At Doncaster, I was five clear on him and I stood up and he pulled up, so I was mindful to keep him going to the line this time.
“He seemed to handle the ground well and the trip was no problem. He’ll have to go up in class obviously, but he will have to have another penalty to get into the Ebor.”
The Gosdens struck again with Sweet Memories the aptly-named winner of the Darley Fillies’ Novice Stakes.
Frankie Dettori returned from his recent ban to take the ride and punters took the hint as the Sea The Stars three-year-old took apart a decent bunch, with all bar Red Danielle beaten off before the last of the 10 furlongs.
After unsaddling from the 5-2 favourite, who scored by half a length with the pair well clear of third-placed Maman Joon, Dettori said: “I’ve got to dash. I promised my wife that I’d cook for her as it is our anniversary.”
Orchid Bloom (6-4 favourite) won the closing British EBF Premier Fillies’ Handicap to complete trebles on the day for Marquand and Haggas, having also teamed up in the feature Super Sprint with Relief Rally.