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Bethell lining up European raid for Artistic Rifles

Options in Italy and France are under consideration for Ed Bethell’s progressive five-year-old Artistic Rifles.

Beaten off a mark of 86 at Newcastle in February, the War Command gelding has won four of his next five – including a Group Three at Haydock last time out.

Bethell is pondering another step up in class, but feels there is even more to come next year.

“Artistic Rifles has just got an entry for a Group Two in Italy – the Premio Vittorio di Capua – and he might get an entry in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein on Arc weekend,” said Bethell.

“I’ll just see how he is and then I’ll make a final decision – but they are not until October, so there’s no rush.

“He looked a really nice horse – but did I think he’d win a Group Three? His work has only got better throughout the year. It didn’t surprise me, but he’s just progressing with each run.

“He’s such a lovely, big horse that he might continue to progress because he’s got the confidence now to go and do it.

“We’ve minded him this year and we might have a really good year next year, hopefully.”

Artistic merit for Bethell

Artistic Rifles led his rivals a merry dance to secure his fourth success of the season in the Betfair Double Daily Rewards Superior Mile at Haydock.

Bought from Italy last summer, having initially been trained in Britain by Charlie Hills, the five-year-old made a winning start for James Bethell at Redcar in October.

Artistic Rifles went through the sales ring unsold at Tattersalls the following month, but it has proved a blessing for connections, with the War Command gelding adding to his tally with further victories at Doncaster, Ripon and Hamilton this term.

Now running for Bethell’s son Ed, who took over the licence earlier in the year, he faced a significant step up in class for this Group Three contest and was the outsider of five at 15-2.

But given a well-judged ride from the front by Andrea Atzeni, Artistic Rifles continued his progression with an authoritative display – passing the post with a length and a quarter in hand over Bell Rock, with hot favourite Lord Glitters only fourth.

Atzeni was completing a quickfire double on the card after winning the opening Ascendant Stakes aboard Triple Time.

James Bethell said: “Ed has gone to a wedding in Ireland. He was rather reluctant to go, but I think his girlfriend made him, so she can get the blame!

“I’m rather emotional, funnily enough. I couldn’t be more proud and more pleased.”

He added: “It was entirely the trainer’s decision to run today. I’d have waited until next Saturday for a £50,000 handicap at Doncaster!

“This horse went through the sales last year for £5,000 and didn’t get a bid.

“I’d definitely have to ask the trainer where he’ll go from here, but I would think he might think about going to Dubai.

“He loves fast ground and he’s at his best when he’s making the running.”