Superlative effort from Isaac Shelby at Newmarket

Brian Meehan’s Isaac Shelby knuckled down and showed plenty of guts to maintain his unbeaten record in the bet365 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket.

A taking three-and-a-half-length winner on debut at Newbury in May, the decision to bypass Royal Ascot paid dividends as the famous Sangster silks were carried to success in the seven-furlong Group Two contest.

The 3-1 winner was to the fore in the early stages as the field of five were closely packed together in a race run at a moderate pace in the opening furlongs.

Things hotted up as the pack approached the two-furlong pole and push became shove almost simultaneously for the high-class quintet taking part.

It was Meehan’s son of Night Of Thunder that picked up best, but he was soon challenged by Charlie Appleby’s Victory Dance and the duo, who pulled clear of the third Dark Thirty – who was done no favours when Isaac Shelby drifted to his left – became embroiled in a titanic tussle in the closing stages.

Although briefly headed, Sean Levey was able to conjure up a little bit more from his mount to regain the advantage in the shadow of the post and return a winning verdict of a head.

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He now appears set to dine at the top table for the rest of his juvenile campaign, with Paddy Power trimming the colt to 25-1 from 50-1 for next year’s 2000 Guineas.

Meehan said: “He’s got a good temperament and Sean knows him well.

“We’ll stay at seven furlongs now, I’d imagine (Dewhurst) but we’ll be in no rush to run him again for a while. I think we’ll train him as a Guineas horse going forward.

“These horses are special and they are the reason you do it. All you are trying to do is train winners but when you get horses like him with huge potential, it’s very special.

The owning partnership is led by Sam Sangster, whose father Robert enjoyed so many spectacular days on a racecourse.

He said: “We put together a Manton Thoroughbreds partnership every year and it’s very emotional for me to have dad’s colours still going.

“The last time dad won this race (Commander Collins, 1998) I was here and picked the trophy up as an 11-year-old so it’s great to be back and keep the colours going.

“He looks a Guineas prospect, but I know the trainer well and I know he’ll be eyeing up the Breeders’ Cup! He’s still got a lot of furnishing to do, he’s still a bit narrow so all he can do is improve, we won’t rush him to Goodwood.”

Meehan added: “Doing it in these colours is brilliant, it’s a partnership run by Sam, he puts a lot of work in and it’s a nice story, it keeps the colours alive. I’m so pleased for Sam, we do a lot together and he buys a lot of my horses.

“All winter he’s looked a nice horse and has been so easy to deal with, we have some good judges at home and they always liked him.

“We’ll take it step by step, he’s a horse who will continue to improve and physically there’s massive improvement there. We won’t rush into a plan. I don’t know if he’ll run before the Dewhurst.”

Of Victory Dance, Appleby said: “The winner is a nice horse as he won that maiden at Newbury nicely. I feel we have more to go forward with as well. We saw him there on his first start only just getting the hang of it and I thought when he got into a battle he did well for his inexperience.

“I think going forward we have got all the options now. I won’t take him to somewhere like the Vintage. If we see significant improvement at home we will carry on with Plan A and head to the National Stakes.”

Richard Hannon, trainer of Dark Thirty, said: “It was a step up from his Chesham run and I’m very happy with it. The interference wasn’t ideal, but the best horse has won. We are delighted with our fellow as he has got home very well. He will get further in time.

“He would have finished closer (without the interference), but I don’t think he would have finished a position closer. He is a very nice horse and a class horse to look forward to the rest of the year. We wouldn’t be far away in some of those seven-furlong Group Threes.

“There is the Prix Francois Boutin at Deauville which would be ideal. He is a very nice horse and that is a huge step up on his Ascot run. He is definitely not average.”

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