Sarah’s Verse hits the right notes for Ron Harris at Bath

Sarah’s Verse became the first winner in Bath’s 2021 season when landing the CB Protection Handicap for trainer Ron Harris and apprentice Laura Pearson.

The Poet’s Voice filly dispelled Harris’ fears that she might want a longer trip by running on too strongly for Bluebell Time to score by a neck.

Of the 12-1 winner, Harris observed: “This meeting has proved lucky for me over the years and has done so again.

“The filly has done it well, but I thought she might want further. They went very quick, which helped her, and she’s shown more toe back on the grass than was the case on the all-weather.”

Blue Collar Lad and Sean Levey (centre) on the way to victory
Blue Collar Lad and Sean Levey (centre) on the way to victory (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The previous experience of Brocklesby Stakes third and fifth Wonderful World and Muskateer Three saw that pair dominate the market for the CB Protection Security Training Restricted Novice Stakes, a race run in a hail storm.

However, it was 16-1 newcomer Blue Collar Lad that took the spoils for trainer Robyn Brisland and jockey Sean Levey.

Wonderful World travelled kindly in front, but had a fight on his hands when challenged on both sides entering the final furlong, and ultimately failed to hold his rivals by a short head and half a length.

Levey praised the winning Arcadia colt, saying: “He kept on well and put his head down between two horses that had previous experience.

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“Mr Brisland has done well to have him ready first time. I thought he had a good chance today.”

Levey completed a double when executing a waiting ride on the Jim Boyle-trained Marlay Park to perfection in the CB Protection Security Training Maiden Stakes.

The start was delayed by the reluctance of favourite Fernando Rah to load and he was finally withdrawn, leaving Khatwah to blaze the trail.

Alphonse Karr had wrested the lead approaching the distance but Major Force and then Marlay Park challenged, with the latter pulling a length and a half clear.

Boyle said: “He was recommended by Richard Hannon and will be a lovely fun horse for the owners. This was almost six furlongs, but I think he’ll have no trouble stepping up to seven.”

With three earning runs behind him in as many starts, Golden Flame set the standard in the CB Protection Event Specialists Maiden Stakes and duly hacked up as the 1-3 favourite under Adam Kirby.

The Mark Johnston-trained colt made all and coasted home five lengths clear of Going Gone, giving Kirby a timely boost following his defeat on Able Kane and disappointment that Fernando Rah failed to load.

The jockey said: “It’s been a bit of a kerfuffle, but it’s always nice to get a winner. He bowled along nicely and then lengthened from three and a half out all the way to the line.”

Kirby completed a double to share the riding honours with Levey when guiding 25-race maiden Quarry Beach (11-1) home in a blanket finish to the CB Protection Security Consultants Handicap.

The David Evans-trained mare got up in the final strides to score by half a length from Bounty Pursuit.

Kirby said: “I think she liked the track and handled the quick ground. It’s always good to ride a winner for David, he’s a top man.”

Clog Na Fola ended an 11-year wait for a winner on the Flat by owner Nick Ayliffe when gunning down Villanelle and foiling a gamble on that horse in the CB Protection Safety Officers Handicap.

The daughter of Sir Prancealot, trained by John O’Shea, emerged from the chasing pack to catch her rival and score at 9-1 under a fine ride by Ciaran McKee.

Clog Na Fola (centre) was a memorable winner for owner Nick Ayliffe
Clog Na Fola (centre) was a memorable winner for owner Nick Ayliffe (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

McKee said: “I’m very pleased for John and for Nick Ayliffe who is a very loyal owner. People like Nick are in it for the day out, but he’s stuck with us.”

King Of Stars (9-1) made a triumphant switch to turf from sand when denying the gambled-on Able Kane in the CB Protection Professional Security Systems Handicap.

The grey engaged in a controlled front-running display under Ali Rawlinson and kept on strongly to score by two and a quarter lengths.

He is a credit to trainer Mick Appleby, a point emphasised by Rawlinson who said: “He’s done well over the winter, showing plenty of speed at Southwell where the name of the game is to avoid the kickback. He’s got bags of speed and has improved for the switch to turf.

“He’s a good advertisement for Mick who gives a new lease of life to horses that join him. If he has the ammo, he will deliver.”

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