Spanish Mission to remain in Australia after Melbourne Cup third

Melbourne Cup third Spanish Mission has been sold to continue his career in Australia where he will be trained by Peter Moody.

Spanish Mission emerged as one of the best stayers in Europe this summer, winning the Yorkshire Cup and pushing Stradivarius to a head victory in the Lonsdale Cup at York after finishing third in the Gold Cup at Ascot.

Bought by Barry Irwin’s Team Valor and Gary Barber with the principle aim of the Flemington showpiece, he came very close to pulling it off for Andrew Balding but will now stay in Australia.

Owner Brae Sokolski released a statement via Moody on Twitter saying: “I am pleased to announce that following his outstanding performance in this year’s Melbourne Cup, Spanish Mission will remain in Australia to be trained by Peter Moody.

“Yesterday I finalised a deal to secure Spanish Mission to race in partnership with Ozzie Kheir, Jonathan Rosham and our warm circle.

“I would like to thank the former owners of Spanish Mission, Gary Barber and Barry Irwin, who specifically approached me and gave me the opportunity to purchase their wonderful horse and keep him on our shores.

“Spanish Mission is truly a world class stayer and importantly still on an upward trajectory with so much more to come. We will advise of future plans with him in due course.”

King’s Lynn on top in Wentworth Stakes

Andrew Balding’s King’s Lynn capped a successful season with a Listed win at Doncaster in the Virgin Bet Wentworth Stakes.

The four-year-old, owned and bred by the Queen, was previously victorious at the same level in the Achilles Stakes at Haydock in May, and was beaten only a length last time out in the Group Three Bengough Stakes at Ascot.

That form saw him start as the 4-1 favourite on Town Moor, a price he justified when battling all the way to the line under David Probert to prevail by a head from Magical Spirit.

“He’s a lovely horse – I managed to get him to sit behind the pace and the wind early on,” said the winning jockey.

“He’s travelled smoothly, and when I did commit to him a furlong and a half down, the second horse was going with me – and he’s battled all the way to the line. The ground has definitely helped him.

“It really was a strong headwind, and the second (placed) horse has drifted left and put me under pressure. He can wander around a little bit but under the conditions today, (but) I think he’s won well.

“He’s actually been running very consistently throughout and had a real good run at Ascot the last day, so we knew he was coming here in good form.”

There was early drama in the race as Jouska unseated Rob Hornby – before then running loose and chasing home the leading duo, causing the runner-up to drift slightly towards the rail.

“There was a little bit happening, but he’s had a clear passage,” Balding said of his winner.

“It’s great to have won a Listed race with him under a penalty – he’s a high-class horse, and I’m thrilled for his owner and his jockey.

“He’s tough and he likes it here. It’s funny that he’s had a great season, bar two very bad runs at Newbury – he under-performed (there) both times, and I don’t know why that is because I wouldn’t have thought there would be that much difference between Newbury and here.

“Everyone who trains for the Queen loves having winners for her, and it’s a special feeling to win a Listed race for the second time this year with this horse.”

The stewards looked into the incident which led to Jouska’s departure, after clipping heels, and suspended Magical Spirit’s jockey Kevin Stott for 10 days for careless riding. He is stood down on November 20, and from November 22 to December 1.

Spanish faces late vet check ahead of Melbourne Mission

Spanish Mission will undergo a late veterinary inspection on Saturday ahead of his planned run in Tuesday’s Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington.

Andrew Balding’s British raider was found to have swelling in a foreleg at his initial check on Thursday and the Racing Victoria vets were not completely satisfied after a further inspection on Friday.

Trainer Tony Noonan and his son Tom have overseen Spanish Mission’s preparation for Balding as the handler’s British staff were unable to make the trip due to travel difficulties.

Final acceptances for Tuesday’s Group One feature are taken on Saturday and Noonan is confident Spanish Mission will be given the go-ahead to run.

He told “Unfortunately, he had a little bit of a fusion in the pastern yesterday afternoon.

“He’d obviously rolled and probably given the joint a bit of a knock.

“He was a sound horse this morning, presented well, worked under saddle without an issue.

“Racing Victoria vets had inspected him at midday and found that he just wasn’t as good as they would have liked at this point in time.

“We’ve trotted him up again since their departure without a sleeve, which they put on his pastern to monitor his action and without the sleeve there, his trotted out soundly again.

“I think he’s probably got an infection under the skin; our vets have looked at that.

“He’ll probably go on a course of antibiotics this afternoon and I’d expect improvement really quickly.”

Spanish Mission, winner of the Yorkshire Cup, was last seen being beaten a head by Stradivarius in the Lonsdale Cup at York in August.

He is as low as 9-2 with William Hill and Betfred for the race and Noonan does not think his supporters should be concerned.

He added: “I would think there’s no doubt (about his participation), at this point in time.

“He was a sound horse under saddle this morning, he’s been sound right through, so this has just come out of left field, which can happen with horses, but I think we’re pretty well on the target as far as what’s caused it, and once we treat him, I think we’ll get a really quick response.”

Spanish Mission delighting Balding in Melbourne Cup prep

Andrew Balding is counting down the days until Spanish Mission’s bid for glory in the Melbourne Cup.

The five-year-old has already proven himself a top-class stayer in Europe – winning last season’s Doncaster Cup and the Yorkshire Cup this term.

On his last couple of starts, Spanish Mission has finished third in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and a head second to Stradivarius in the Lonsdale Cup at York.

After receiving the data from his latest workout on Friday morning, Balding is confident his charge is at the top of his game for ‘the race that stops a nation’ on November 2.

“He worked this morning at Werribee, and with the wonderful modern technology we were able to map his work,” the trainer told Sky Sports Racing.

“We were able to get the splits and the heart-rate and his stride length etc, and it matched up pretty well with what we would have been expecting in his homework here at Kingsclere.

“He seems to be in great form – everyone is thrilled with him.”

Craig Williams (second left) will ride Spanish Mission
Craig Williams (second left) will ride Spanish Mission (Tony Harris/PA)

In an apparent boost to Spanish Mission’s chances, connections have booked the services of leading Australian jockey Craig Williams, who won the 2019 Melbourne Cup aboard Vow and Declare.

Balding added: “Craig has obviously won the race before – he’s hugely experienced and still riding at the top of his game, so we’re thrilled to have him.

“It’s a big deal, and come next week we’ll be getting pretty excited about it.

“I don’t want to tempt fate, because we’ve still got 10 days to go and anything can go wrong – but so far, so good.”

Alcohol Free leads 17 seeking Sun Chariot glory

Alcohol Free and Snow Lantern are among 17 fillies confirmed for the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes.

Having already won the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, the Andrew Balding-trained Alcohol Free will bid for her third Group One success of the season in Saturday’s Newmarket feature.

The daughter of No Nay Never will drop back in distance over the Rowley Mile after seemingly having her stamina limitations exposed over 10 furlongs when sixth in the Juddmonte International at York on her latest appearance.

Richard Hannon’s Snow Lantern was behind Alcohol Free at Royal Ascot and Goodwood, but reversed that form when claiming top-level honours in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket’s July Course.

The Frankel filly was last seen finishing fourth behind the brilliant Baaeed in the Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp – and Hannon feels his star filly has an “outstanding chance” of getting back on the winning trail this weekend.

“Snow Lantern is in good nick. She didn’t scope very well after France, but she has had the antibiotics since then and she has scoped fine,” said the Herridge handler.

“She did a bit of work yesterday morning and will now be turning up in the Sun Chariot on Saturday. She will run a lot better than she did in France.

“This is a golden opportunity against her own sex and hopefully she has an outstanding chance.”

Mother Earth winning the 1000 Guineas under Frankie Dettori
Mother Earth winning the 1000 Guineas under Frankie Dettori (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Mother Earth won the 1000 Guineas over the course and distance in early May. She is closely matched with Alcohol Free and Snow Lantern on her subsequent form, having finished third in the Coronation and second in the Falmouth Stakes.

Aidan O’Brien’s charge has since doubled her Group One tally in the Prix Rothschild, but could only finish third behind Jessica Harrington’s No Speak Alexander when last seen contesting the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown. The pair could renew rivalry on Saturday.

O’Brien could also run Empress Josephine, with Champers Elysees (Johnny Murtagh), Epona Plays (Willie McCreery) and Shale (Donnacha O’Brien) completing the potential Irish challenge.

Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Saffron Beach and Althiqa from Charlie Appleby’s yard also feature.

Spanish Mission to miss Caulfield Cup

Spanish Mission’s departure to Australia has been delayed and he will now miss his intended start in next month’s Caulfield Cup.

The five-year-old was due to fly this weekend with the first shipment of Spring Carnival challengers, but after suffering with muscle spasms while exercising in quarantine in Newmarket, he will not leave as planned.

Andrew Balding’s charge, who was last seen finishing a narrow second to Stradivarius in the Lonsdale Cup at York, is now due to travel early next month, but new rules mean he will not be allowed to contest the Caulfield Cup and will instead chart a direct route to the Melbourne Cup instead.

A statement from Racing Victoria said: “UK trainer Andrew Balding has advised Racing Victoria (RV) that Spanish Mission will no longer fly to Melbourne this weekend and will instead arrive on Saturday, October 9 with a second shipment of international entrants for the Spring Racing Carnival.

“The change in travel plans means that Spanish Mission will no longer contest the $5 million Carlton Draught Caulfield Cup on October 16 and will exclusively target the Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington on November 2.

“Balding advised RV that Spanish Mission had incurred a slight setback (muscle spasms in his flanks) following exercise whilst in Pre-Export Quarantine (PEQ) in Newmarket and had missed some ridden exercise as a result.

“The stable has elected to take a cautious approach with the horse upon his return to ridden exercise today and have thus deferred their travel to the second shipment.”

Masekela has Royal Lodge date

Andrew Balding is looking forward to seeing Masekela tackle a mile for the first time in the Group Two Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

A winner on debut, Masekela then finished fifth in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot to Point Lonsdale – but it is the form of his last two races which really catches the eye.

He was beaten just a short head in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket by subsequent Group One hero Native Trail – and then got the better of Roger Varian’s Bayside Boy, an impressive winner of the Champagne Stakes since, in a Listed event at Newbury.

“He’s in good form and he’s going to the Royal Lodge next weekend,” said Balding.

“The form of his races is working out well – which is always good to see.

“An extra furlong should really suit him in the Royal Lodge, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Title frontrunner Murphy hits back with treble

Just 24 hours after William Buick closed the gap to six in the race to be champion jockey courtesy of a treble, the man defending the title, Oisin Murphy, secured a hat-trick of his own at Newbury.

Murphy is now 1-3 favourite with Paddy Power to defend the championship, with Buick a 2-1 chance.

His first winner came in the Dubai Duty Free Nursery Handicap on Ed Walker’s American Star (11-2) – who had been slightly outclassed in the Gimcrack at York but, down in grade and up in trip, proved in a different league to his rivals here.

“David Ward (owner) asked Ed Sackville (bloodstock agent) to buy him a Gimcrack horse – but he found six furlongs too sharp, and we should have run him in the Acomb,” said Walker.

American Star was always in command under Oisin Murphy
American Star was always in command under Oisin Murphy (Steven Paston/PA)

“He did that very nicely, was well-ridden – and it never looked in any doubt to me.

“I’m not sure what we’ll do now. We may go back up in class but we’ll just wait and see – that looked a good race.”

Murphy then made every yard of the running in the feature Dubai Duty Free Cup on Saeed bin Suroor’s Silent Escape (16-5 joint-favourite).

The winner is now heading to Dubai, where there will no doubt be plenty of options for her.

The champion jockey ended the day by winning the Crossland Employment Solicitors Handicap on Andrew Balding’s Neenee’s Choice (13-8 favourite), who himself was scoring for the fourth time in a row.

“He’s just a very honest horse, and Oisin gave him a lovely ride,” said Balding.

“He’s in the Cambridgeshire but he won’t get in it. We’ve no great plans, so we’ll just take stock.”

Heredia showed a smart turn of foot to remain unbeaten
Heredia showed a smart turn of foot to remain unbeaten (Steven Paston/PA)

Heredia potentially threw her name into the hat for one of the big juvenile contests at the end of the season when maintaining her unbeaten record in the Dubai Duty Free Full Of Surprises British EBF Fillies’ Conditions Stakes

The Richard Hannon-trained Dark Angel filly had got off the mark with the minimum of fuss at Windsor 20 days ago – but faced three other previous winners here, including Charlie Appleby’s 4-9 favourite Silk Romance who looked smart when winning at Newmarket.

“She’s a lovely filly, a homebred of Andrew Stones (St Albans Bloodstock) and I have to say (pre-trainer) Malcolm Bastard has done an amazing job,” said Hannon.

“She came to me in June and she’s been really sweet ever since. We thought a bit of her when she went to Windsor, and she won there.

“I’d say that was a smart race – she looked like she enjoyed the seven furlongs, but where we go know I don’t know.

“There are loads of options, but I didn’t want to put her in anything in case she finished sixth at Windsor, and then I’d look a plonker. If we need to supplement for something we can now, because she’s paid for it.

“We’ll all have a chat, but I would be keen to run her again looking for some black type.”

Deodar made a winning debut for Ralph Beckett
Deodar made a winning debut for Ralph Beckett (Steven Paston/PA)

Ralph Beckett introduced a nicely-bred newcomer in Deodar to win the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes.

The dogs were barking for Hannon’s Witch Hunter, who was sent off the 7-4 favourite and in a prime position throughout.

Deodar had been slightly outpaced early, but got the hang of things from halfway under Rob Hornby and fairly powered home with the rail to assist him, beating the favourite by a neck – although there was not much between the first five home.

“He’s just come together in the last three weeks – it took him a long time to work out what was required, but he’s suddenly realised,” said Beckett, of the Juddmonte-owned son of Bated Breath.

“In his last bit of work he put it together between his ears.

“I don’t know what we’ll do with him now. Richard fancied his, so I’d say it was a good effort, and we’ll have to work out what to do.

“He’s out of a Selkirk mare, so should have no trouble getting further. I’d say we’ll crack on with him now.”

Roger Charlton’s Makram (11-4 favourite) survived a stewards’ enquiry to win the Dubai Duty Free Handicap.

James Doyle’s mount drifted out as Calling The Wind challenged, but the view taken was that there was not enough interference to change the result. The winning distance was a head.

“He’s a lovely horse – but I think he’s heading to the sales now because he can earn far more abroad than he can here, unfortunately,” said Charlton.

Spanish Mission heading into quarantine for Australian adventure

Spanish Mission is going into quarantine in Newmarket on Thursday ahead of his trip to Australia where he has the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup as targets.

Trainer Andrew Balding reports the five-year-old stayer to be in fine shape following his latest outing in the Lonsdale Cup at York, where he went down by a head to Stradivarius after a titanic battle.

“He goes into quarantine in Newmarket – I couldn’t be happier with him, he’s come out of York great,” said Balding.

“He’s passed all his required veterinary checks and goes into two weeks’ quarantine and then will be shipped to Australia for the Caulfield Cup and hopefully the Melbourne Cup as well.”

Under the tough Covid restrictions in Australia, Balding is unable to send a member of staff with this year’s Yorkshire Cup winner and 2020 Doncaster Cup victor – but he has managed to overcome the issue.

“It is a problem. Happily we’ve got a former employee who is working in Australia and has made himself available to ride the horse. We are working on the other details,” he added.

Balding is pleased to have last year’s St Leger runner-up Berkshire Rocco back in action in the Weatherbys Bloodstock Pro Persian Punch Conditions Stakes at Salisbury on Friday.

Berkshire Rocco (red) returns to action at Salisbury on Friday
Berkshire Rocco (red) returns to action at Salisbury on Friday (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The four-year-old has not run since finishing second in the Amir Trophy at Doha in February. He should have run on Dubai World Cup night, but was a late withdrawal after suffering a setback.

Balding is using his comeback run as a stepping stone to the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot next month.

“I’m very pleased with him. He’s obviously had a while off. He’s working great,” he said.

“We are looking towards Champions Day subject to an encouraging run on Friday.”

QEII target back at a mile for Alcohol Free

Alcohol Free is set to drop back to a mile for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot after failing to get home in Wednesday’s Juddmonte International.

Already a dual Group One winner this season after landing the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Sussex at Goodwood, connections made the bold decision to go for glory over a mile and quarter in the feature event of York’s Ebor Festival.

But it was a gamble that ultimately failed, with Andrew Balding’s filly finishing sixth of seven runners behind the brilliant winner Mishriff and she will now be trained for Qipco Champions Day on October 16.

“Going up to a mile and a quarter was always going to be a punt,” said Balding.

“She looked like she had come there and was only going to be beaten a couple of lengths into second. Having looked like she was going to get placed, she didn’t quite get home over the last 100 yards, but we have learned something from it.

“She was fine this morning. She will have a little holiday now as she has been busy enough.

“She is entered in the Sun Chariot, but the plan is to come back and have a go at the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Champions Day.”

Alcohol Free confirmed an intended runner in Juddmonte International

Andrew Balding has confirmed that Alcohol Free will take her chance in Wednesday’s fascinating Juddmonte International at York.

With the leading three-year-old over 10 furlongs in St Mark’s Basilica lining up, as well as one of the best older horses in training in Mishriff, now one of the best fillies in training has been confirmed an intended starter on the Knavesmire.

A Group One winner at two, she has won the Coronation Stakes and the Sussex Stakes – against the boys – this season, beating 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes hero Poetic Flare at Goodwood.

The race holds dear memories for owner Jeff Smith, whose Arabian Queen caused a 50-1 shock in 2015 when beating Golden Horn.

“We’ve just made the decision she probably will run,” Balding told ITV Racing.

“Jeff is never one to shy away from a challenge and the filly is in great form which is the most important thing.

“She’s thriving at the moment, so why not? If she doesn’t stay, she doesn’t stay.”

Masekela denies Bayside Boy in Denford thriller

Masekela got back up in the shadow of the post to claim Listed honours in the Denford Stakes at Newbury.

Bayside Boy took a narrow advantage in the final furlong, but Masekela battled on bravely and regained the lead in the dying strides.

Masekela (6-4 joint favourite), trained by Andrew Balding, set the pace in the hands of William Buick on what was his fourth start, his previous run being a short-head defeat in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket.

The El Kabeir colt gamely stuck to his guns to land the seven-furlong contest, formerly known as the Washington Singer Stakes, by a head from his market rival, who lost little in defeat on just his second outing.

William Buick returns victorious aboard Masekela
William Buick returns victorious aboard Masekela (PA)

Owner Mick Mariscotti said: “He fought back well after being headed and William says he will be a nice three-year-old.

“He has a couple of entries. In the Champagne Stakes over seven at Doncaster, but the Royal Lodge over a mile might be preferred as long as Andrew agrees. It’s probably the right distance.

“He was bought from Book 2 (Tattersalls) after we saw him on video and he’s a lovely, big horse.”

Sandrine set for Lowther spin ahead of Cheveley Park aim

Sandrine is set put her unbeaten record on the line in the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes at York on August 19.

Andrew Balding’s filly has been thoroughly impressive in winning each of her three starts to date – progressing from a Kempton maiden success to landing the Albany at Royal Ascot and the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket.

A step up to Group One level for next month’s Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes is firmly on the agenda, but Balding is keen to first give her another outing in Group Two company on the Knavesmire.

“Sandrine looks very good and I’ve been thrilled with her last two runs. She will probably run in the Lowther next, then all eyes will be on the Cheveley Park,” said the Kingsclere handler.

“She will carry a penalty (at York), but we didn’t want to wait until Newmarket to run her again.

“She seems to be very versatile ground-wise. She is a very smart filly and is an absolute pleasure to train.

“I think her two Group wins were equally as impressive as they were under very different conditions. It was nice to see her do it on the quick ground in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes and prove she is not a one-trick pony.”

Berkshire Shadow winning the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot
Berkshire Shadow winning the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot (Steven Paston/PA)

Two other horses Balding hopes will contest some of the major juvenile races during the Gold Season on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile this autumn are Berkshire Shadow and Majestic Glory.

Berkshire Shadow, who won the Coventry Stakes at the Royal meeting before finishing second in Goodwood’s Vintage Stakes, is under consideration for both the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes on September 25 and the Darley Dewhurst on October 9.

Last weekend’s Sweet Solera heroine Majestic Glory, meanwhile, looks a likely candidate for the bet365 Fillies’ Mile on October 8.

Balding added: “Berkshire Shadow got a little bit lost in the ground in the Vintage before he got his act together in the last half a furlong.

“We might drop him back to six furlongs and look at the Gimcrack at York before looking at options like the Middle Park or the Dewhurst in the autumn.

“He is a very talented horse and if he encountered soft ground again, I imagine he would perform better on it now having raced on it.

“It was a very good performance that Majestic Glory put up in the Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday and her breeding suggests she should stay further than seven furlongs.

“She showed there she has a great attitude and she is very likeable.”

Foxes Tales’ Rose of Lancaster victory puts Champion Stakes on agenda

Andrew Balding is considering a potential tilt at the Qipco Champion Stakes with Foxes Tales following the three-year-old’s gritty victory in an attritional renewal of the MansionBet Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock.

With likely market leader Real World one of three non-runners because of the rain-softened ground, Foxes Tales was the 5-4 favourite in the hands of Silvestre de Sousa.

Majestic Dawn led the six runners into the home straight, with last year’s winner Extra Elusive initially his nearest pursuer – racing nearest to the stands rail under Hollie Doyle.

However, Extra Elusive faded tamely – while Majestic Dawn did his best to fend off the challenges of both Foxes Tales and eventual runner-up Fancy Man.

In the end, Majestic Dawn had to give best – with Foxes Tales finishing strongest to land Group Three victory by three-quarters of a length.

Balding said: “It was an excellent performance – he gritted it out well and he’s a horse who’s improving and should hopefully have a good future.

“He showed his class today, and I think he was well on top at the end. Although he was the first one off the bridle, he really found for pressure – which was great.

“His options are going to be a little bit tight moving forward. But he’s in the Champion Stakes at the end of the year, which is a possibility after showing he can handle that kind of ground today.

“That would be another big step up in class, so we’ll find something between now and then – hopefully a Group Two race somewhere.”

Majestic takes Glory in Sweet Solera Stakes

Majestic Glory continued her progression with victory in the 100% Racingtv Profits Back To Racing Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket.

A winner on her third career start on the July Course just last week, Andrew Balding’s filly was a 5-1 shot stepping up to Group Three level for her latest assignment.

Market principals Value Theory (3-1) and Wild Beauty (5-2 favourite) raced on the speed throughout, with the latter eventually getting the better of that particular argument.

But Charlie Appleby’s charge had no answer when Majestic Glory picked up between the pair to hit the front under David Probert.

Wild Beauty did her best to fight back, but was a length down at the line.

Winning owner Gearoid Costelloe said: “It doesn’t get much better racing up in this class.

“She did it well – to come through the gap she had to go through as well. I’m very happy.

“Andrew (Balding) kept saying she keeps improving – and he was very confident this morning. Thankfully he was right.”

He added: “She was bred to go over further, so to win over six furlongs last time was a bonus. Hopefully she will go on from this.

“We’ve not got a plan – we will do whatever Andrew tells us. He is doing a very good job, and we will just follow him. Thankfully it has all worked out today.

“It is fantastic to have a winner here. It was very important getting the black type – and she is by Frankel, who is one of the best sires around.”