Tag Archive for: Ascot

Wizard weaves his magic for Fellowes and Marquand at Ascot

The Wizard Of Eye stormed home to snatch a thrilling Lavazza & Ascot 10 Year Anniversary Victoria Cup victory right on the line.

Joe Leavy looked to have made a decisive move on Richard Fahey’s Ramazan between the final two furlongs and he kept on well to fend off the challenge of outsider Bless Him.

But Tom Marquand conjured up an incredible late surge from The Wizard Of Eye and the Charlie Fellowes-trained five-year-old timed it to perfection, scoring by a head and a short head at 7-1.

It was a first triumph since November 2022 for the now-gelded son of Galileo Gold, who was once 11th in the 2000 Guineas in his time with Stan Moore.

Marquand told Sky Sports: “A big shout-out to Charlie, he’s got him dead right. I’ve got to say I probably sat on him for half a furlong longer than I thought was right, but I had Charlie’s words ringing in my ears.

“He’s a very useful horse, he’s shown that before, but to get him back in this order, he’s done a very good job.

“As soon as we’d gone 100 yards, the pace came into the race and I was super happy with him, I was taken into the race and he’s picked up great.

“I’d say things could go even more in his favour on a track like this than they have today, so it’s exciting for Charlie to have a horse like this in his stable and nice to get him back to the horse of old.”

Hallasan proved a disappointment for odds-on favourite-backers when only third in the Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0% Novice Stakes, with 8-1 chance Xanthe edging out 14-1 Reposado by a head for top honours.

Richard Hannon’s Earthlight filly was upholding family honour as a half-sister to three winners, including Listed-class scorer Fort Del Oro.

Owner Julie Wood said: “She’s super, she’s just like her dam Gilded, who won the Queen Mary. She’s the same make and model and today she performed just like her; head down and very gutsy.

“We turned to Richard straight away and said it’s the Queen Mary next – it’s an obvious one, as she looks just an out-and-out five-furlongs sprinter at the moment.”

Kotari completed a quick hat-trick when claiming victory in the Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0% Handicap as the 16-5 favourite.

The gelding gave Gary and Josh Moore their first success as joint-licence holders at Salisbury just six days ago and coped with a 5lb penalty to score under Jason Watson.

The winning jockey said: “I expected there to be a lot more pace on in the race and they weren’t going the kind of gallop I would have liked, but he’s obviously improving quite rapidly.”

Sean D Bowen produced Bellarchi (8-1) with a well-timed run to land the Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0% British EBF Fillies’ Handicap by threequarters of a length from Rose Prick.

Grant Tuer’s filly was continuing her good run of form, having last month obliged at Southwell before going down by just a nose when second at Beverley.

Royal Ascot beckons for ‘exceptional’ Miss Rascal

Paul and Oliver Cole could have a Royal Ascot contender on their hands having seen Miss Rascal dazzle at the track on Friday.

Sixth on debut in a competitive Newmarket event, the daughter of Havana Gold was sent off 5-6 favourite for the Juddmonte British EBF Restricted Maiden Fillies’ Stakes in the hands of Tom Marquand.

She scorched to a three-length success and seems likely to remain at five furlongs for the time being to take a shot at the Queen Mary Stakes at the showpiece meeting.

“She’s a very, very good filly,” said Oliver Cole.

“She hung slightly in that last furlong, but I believe they did the last furlong in 11-something seconds and she hit nearly 41 miles per hour. She’s very quick.

“We thought it was a good opportunity to go to Ascot and for her to see it. She behaved really well and it was the perfect prep run.

“I think she’s exceptional and the Queen Mary will definitely be next, touch wood. Tom thought she was really smart.”

Arctic Thunder had the misfortune of bumping into 2000 Guineas winner Notable Speech when fourth at Kempton in February and proved he is a useful operator in his own right when striking on handicap debut for Andrew Balding.

Sent off at 10-1 for the Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0% Style Handicap, he showed plenty of class to hold off Roger Varian’s Accumulate by a short head in the concluding stages of a really competitive seven-furlong event.

There was another close finish to the Palmer & Co. Champagne Maiden Fillies’ Stakes where Owen Burrows’ 7-1 shot Nakheel improved massively on her Chelmsford debut to see off Queen Of Soldiers by a head.

Michael Dods’ Glenfinnan (8-1) landed a blow for the north in the Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0% “Live Every Moment” Handicap, while Chris Dwyer’s Jimmy Speaking (100-30) obliged favourite-backers over the same six-furlong distance in the Racing Together Community Day Ascot Handicap.

Billy Loughnane warmed up for his ride in the French 1000 Guineas on Sunday by guiding Charlie Hills’ The Ice Phoenix (4-1) to a comfortable success in the Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0% Handicap.

The concluding Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0% Apprentice Handicap headed the way of Charlie Johnston’s Baileys Khelstar (11-10 favourite) who followed up his recent win at Southwell in brave fashion.

Whistlejacket upholds family honour to secure Royal Ascot ticket

Aidan O’Brien’s Whistlejacket booked a trip to Royal Ascot when comfortably accounting for three previous winners in the Listed-class Gain First Flier Stakes at the Curragh.

The full-brother to champion two-year-old Little Big Bear had to settle for second best behind Joseph O’Brien’s Cowardofthecounty over six furlongs on his debut last month but went one better in fine fashion at the minimum trip.

Sent off at 5-6, Whistlejacket raced alongside main market rival Arizona Blaze at the head of affairs for much of it, but it became apparent at the two-furlong pole that Ryan Moore’s mount was travelling much better.

Once asked to kick on, Whistlejacket quickly settled the issue and galloped on strongly all the way through to the line to prevail by three and three-quarter lengths.

O’Brien said: “He’s a fast horse, he’s progressing nicely. I’d say five or six (furlongs) will be no problem, he has plenty of speed for five anyway.

“The last day it was six, but he’s not short of speed. I don’t think he will (run again before Ascot), he’s had two runs. You never know, but I don’t think so.”

Paddy Power responded by cutting Whistlejacket from 12-1 to 7-1 for the Coventry Stakes at the Royal meeting, a race which O’Brien won for a record 10th time via River Tiber last year.

Jessica Harrington’s Barnavara could also be bound for Berkshire after making an impressive debut in the Irish EBF Median Sires Series Maiden over six furlongs.

Guineas Festival Trials – Curragh Racecourse – Monday 6th May
Barnavara ridden by Shane Foley on their way to victory (Niall Carson/PA).

Shane Foley seized pole position on the rails early on and the Calyx filly fought off the attentions of Kilmood Susan before powering clear to score by four lengths at 5-1.

Harrington said: “She was up here the other morning on the Curragh on softish ground, the first time we had her on grass, and we were delighted with her.

“Shane said she was grand over six furlongs and she would probably like better ground.

“She might have another run and then go to Ascot for the Albany. We’ll see how she comes out of that but she won very easily.”

Jasour stakes Commonwealth claim with smooth success

Jasour showcased his incredible turn of foot to power to victory in the Commonwealth Cup Trial Stakes at Ascot.

The Clive Cox-trained colt kept his cool at the back of the field before surging through a gap with just over a furlong remaining to join Purosangue at the front.

Adaay In Devon was challenging on the inside rail, but jockey Jim Crowley gave his three-year-old the nudge he needed to click into another gear and lead outright.

The 9-1 shot drifted over to the inside but was still stretching his advantage in a dominant performance, securing a one-and-a-three-quarter-length success over Adaay In Devon.

Jasour was cut to 12-1 from 33s by Paddy Power for the Commonwealth Cup at next month’s Royal meeting.

“He was class last year in the July Stakes and then in the Prix Morny they split and he was left in the middle and he just got a bit free,” said Cox.

“I think he got a bit frightened as a juvenile and he pulled far too hard in the Middle Park. We’ve worked and we’ve worked, and he enjoyed some precious turnout time up until Christmas at home. The whole team has worked really hard to make sure we’ve kept him this way.

“I was very disappointed things hadn’t worked out (in the second half of last season), but it was quite rewarding to watch him through the winter become more confident.

“He’s an individual personality and quite his own person, but today has been so rewarding to see him do that. It’s very special.

“Jim seemed to strike a chord with him last year in the July Stakes and I’m just pleased it has all worked out today. Jim has given him a super confidence-building run back and I really feel winning is a super bonus, I wasn’t entirely sure about happening.

“I was a little bit worried the ground might be too easy for him, but that didn’t seem to be a problem and his July Stakes performance on quicker ground give us a clear feel in that respects.

“He’s just come back here with a completely different look in his eye, understanding life isn’t that difficult if he gets it the right way round.”

Cox has tasted success in the Commonwealth Cup previously with Golden Horde striking in 2020.

Jasour
Jasour could head to Haydock for a tune-up before his Commonwealth Cup tilt (Adam Davy/PA)

Like Jasour, he was owned by Sheikh Sultan’s Al Mohamediya Racing and connections’ latest speedster could tune-up for his main summer target at Haydock on May 25 in the Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Sandy Lane Stakes.

Cox added: “The Commonwealth Cup absolutely has to be the target and we were worried about the weather today and how he would cope. After today I will sleep a lot easier and I don’t think I will be watching so many weather forecasts so many times before his next run I would say.

“Sheikh Sultan has been an absolute gentleman and fully on board with our plan to try and what we’ve been doing to try to engineer Jasour’s confidence. He wasn’t here today, but hopefully he will next time.

“Golden Horde was a completely quieter individual to deal with and I didn’t lose any sleep over him at all.

“I think going via the Sandy Lane (to the Commonwealth Cup) would be nice and I look forward to seeing him on a sounder surface.”

Enchanting performance sparks Royal Ascot dreams

Enchanting Empress booked her ticket to Royal Ascot as owners Amo Racing won the Royal Ascot Two-Year-Old Trial EBF Conditions Stakes for the second year running.

Alice Haynes’ Maximum Impact obliged as an evens favourite 12 months ago, but this time Dominic Ffrench Davis’ daughter of Sergei Prokofiev – the only filly in the field – was sent off an 11-2 chance in the hands of David Egan.

A professional winner on debut at Wolverhampton 21 days ago, she showed plenty of heart to see off the Murphy-trained Rock Hunter by a neck.

This victory came over five furlongs, but Ffrench Davis is now eyeing a move up to six furlongs for the Albany Stakes at the big meeting later in the summer.

He said: “I think she’s done enough to come back to Ascot, but I think she is more of an Albany filly than a Queen Mary filly.

“She will definitely get six and will probably go further in time. It’s a fast pedigree, but she was behind the bridle at Wolverhampton and she was behind the bridle a little bit again today.

“She’s as tough as old boots and she answered when David asked her, so I think the Albany is probably her target.

“She’s probably done enough for now and you don’t want to overrace these fillies. We’ll keep her fresh for Ascot.”

Her rider concurred that six furlongs is Elegant Empress’ trip, with Egan adding: “If she does come back to Ascot I’d say six furlongs would be the more obvious trip.

“She’s not the most strong-travelling filly and you need that when you have the likes of the Wesley Ward horses, who would go a lot quicker than we did just there.

“She’d be more comfortable over six.”

There were two divisions of the Naas Racecourse Handicap over five furlongs with 7-2 favourite Woolhampton striking in the first for trainer Rod Millman and Robert Cowell’s Isle Of Lismore taking the spoils 35 minutes later at odds of 11-1.

Isle of Lismore was a brave winner for trainer Robert Cowell
Isle of Lismore was a brave winner for trainer Robert Cowell (Adam Davy/PA)

The latter was partnered by Kieran Shoemark, who said: “He’s incredibly uncomplicated and I could have hit the front two and a half out, his attitude is so willing – he was always sticking his head out.

“Robert said he was fresh and well and he’s already had a couple of nice runs this season. I suppose off 85 there was a question if he was still well-handicapped, but I thought he dug deep there. He’s a lovely individual.”

There was a smart performance from the regally-bred Diamond Rain, who could have a bright future after coming home strongly to deny 2-1 favourite Shaha in the Darley British EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes.

Trained by Charlie Appleby, the strapping Godolphin-owned daughter of Shamardal is out of William Haggas’ Oaks heroine Dancing Rain, and although slowly away from the stalls, finished her race in the manner of an exciting prospect.

Diamond Rain could have an exciting future
Diamond Rain could have an exciting future (Adam Davy/PA)

“I think she did need the experience today,” said winning jockey William Buick.

“She had been showing some nice signs at home and Charlie and the team thought today was a nice safe starting point for her, which it was. It was nice, safe ground and a beautiful track and whatever she did was going to be looking towards the future.

“I was very pleased with that. She was very green from the stalls, but I was pleased with how she picked up. I think there were some nice fillies in that race and a couple of nice types and she was one of them.

“I had to just wait for my run and then quicken and I was really delighted with her and think she will progress from here. She will probably ideally want another couple of furlongs.”

The concluding Manny Mercer Apprentice Handicap went the way of the Jonathan Portman-trained 100-30 favourite Two Tempting who struck in the hands of Olivia Tubb.

Trueshan all set for ‘tough’ Sagaro return

Alan King reports all is well with Trueshan ahead of his seasonal reappearance in the Longines Sagaro Stakes at Ascot, but admits carrying a Group One penalty will make things tough for his valiant veteran.

The eight-year-old has to concede weight all round as a result of following up last September’s Doncaster Cup triumph with an elite-level success in the Prix du Cadran at ParisLongchamp later the same month.

Having finished only fourth behind the reopposing Coltrane on level terms in this race 12 months ago, King’s concerns are understandable, especially as that old rival and the Hughie Morrison-trained Quickthorn are currently rated 1lb superior on official ratings.

However, Trueshan’s home work and the recent rain in Berkshire do give more cause for optimism.

“I do think he probably needs a personal best, as there are two horses rated above him and he has to give them 7lb,” said King.

“He’s in great form and Hollie (Doyle) rode him work at home on Saturday morning. I’m not sure she has ever ridden him work at home, but she came in and she was delighted with him.

Betfred St Leger Festival – Doncaster Cup Day – Doncaster Racecourse
Trueshan ridden by Hollie Doyle (left) winning the Doncaster Cup (Tom Goode/PA).

“The forecast is encouraging and he’s ready to start. Conceding weight to Hughie’s horse and Coltrane will be tough, but it’s a nice starting point.”

Last year, Trueshan kicked off his campaign with a narrow reversal to Rajinsky at Nottingham, but the abandoned Further Flight Stakes was never on the table this season, with the gelding given a wind-op this spring.

King added: “We had done his wind a week or so before, so we couldn’t have taken him to Nottingham anyway.

“We did it last year and the soft palate is something you can probably do annually with some horses. Although I had no inclination there is a problem, we just had it done again.”

Coltrane followed up an emphatic victory in last season’s renewal by finishing a fine second to Courage Mon Ami in the Ascot Gold Cup and benefits from his Lonsdale Cup victory over that horse at York falling just before the end-of-August cut-off point for penalties here.

Andrew Balding’s seven-year-old must put a below-par effort in the Dubai Gold Cup behind him, but regular rider Oisin Murphy is hoping the fitting of cheekpieces will inspire a return to form.

He told Sky Sports Racing: “Coltrane disappointed in Dubai but horses can do that. He’s been a great servant and had a terrific year last year, obviously winning this race.

“He’s been working well and he’ll wear cheekpieces, which might just help him take the bridle. I’m looking forward to getting back on him and as long as he stays healthy and is enjoying it, there’s no doubt he can get back to the level he was at.”

John and Thady Gosden’s Sweet William progressed through the ranks last term, completing a hat-trick in handicap company at Glorious Goodwood before finishing a rock-solid second to Absurde in the Ebor at York and then chasing home Trueshan at Doncaster.

“He’s in great form,” said Gosden senior. “He’s the ultimate character and he’s a lot of fun. He just got pipped off in the Ebor and we’re looking forward to running him in the Sagaro.

Qatar Goodwood Festival 2023 – Day Five – Goodwood Racecourse
Sweet William winning at Goodwood (Andrew Matthews/PA).

“He stays well and he’s one of those enigmatic horses who is fun to train. He’ll handle soft no problem, as he did at Goodwood that day.”

Quickthorn was given an enterprising ride by Tom Marquand when making all to win last season’s Goodwood Cup by six lengths from Emily Dickinson and Coltrane.

The line-up is completed by David Menuisier’s Caius Chorister, who was last seen scoring in Group Three company at Saint-Cloud in October on very soft ground.

Bucanero Fuerte set to skip Guineas with Ascot sprint preferred

Bucanero Fuerte will be campaigned as a sprinter in the early part of the season, with connections foregoing a shot at the Qipco 2000 Guineas in favour of heading to Royal Ascot Trials day next Wednesday.

Adrian Murray’s son of Wootton Bassett was a high-class juvenile last term, winning three of his five starts and giving owners Amo Racing a first Group One success when blitzing the field in the Phoenix Stakes.

He was somewhat found out when upped to seven furlongs for the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes in his final start at two and having excelled over shorter, his team are now resisting the temptation to head to an early-season Classic over a mile.

He is pencilled in to return to the scene of his fine Coventry Stakes third for the Group Three Ascot Commonwealth Cup Trial Stakes, which is also known as the Pavilion Stakes and serves as the perfect starting point for three-year-old sprinters aiming to return for the Royal meeting.

Murray said: “Bucanero goes to Ascot, he’s in the six-furlong race. It’s highly unlikely he will go for the Guineas.

“We’re going to campaign him as a sprinter, his brother (Wooded) won a Group One over five furlongs and he shows us an awful lot of speed. The Guineas could just kill him in the last couple of furlongs.”

Meanwhile, running plans for Amo Racing’s star performer King Of Steel could determine where impressive All-Weather Championships Finals Day scorer Elegant Man is seen next.

David Egan after winning aboard Elegant Man at Newcastle
David Egan after winning aboard Elegant Man at Newcastle (Richard Sellers/PA)

The son of Arrogate dazzled in handicap company when making all in Newcastle’s Easter Classic and is now set for Group One competition on his next start.

“He will be going for the Tattersalls Gold Cup or the Coronation Cup at Epsom,” continued Murray.

“It will depend on where they go with King Of Steel as he’s in the two of them and we will be avoiding him. Whichever he doesn’t go for, we would go for.

“Kia (Joorabchian, owner) has a good hand and some nice horses. We’ve got a great summer to hopefully look forward to.”

Maljoom on comeback trail once more

William Haggas’ Maljoom has the Paradise Stakes at Ascot in his sights and holds an outside chance of running in the Al Shaqab Lockinge.

The five-year-old entire is lightly-raced and heads into this season having had a successful three-year-old campaign followed by well over a year off the track.

A Group Two winner in the German 2,000 Guineas in 2022 and then fourth when beaten only half a length in the St James’s Palace Stakes, Maljoom clearly has plenty of ability.

Last season he was seen only once when fifth in the Joel Stakes and September but he is now preparing to make his seasonal debut at Ascot next month in the Listed Paradise Stakes.

He also holds a Lockinge entry but may find that contest comes around too soon as the Newbury fixture is on May 18.

Maljoom at Kempton
Maljoom at Kempton (John Walton/PA)

“He’s going to the Paradise Stakes on May 1 and then we will decide if he goes for the Lockinge,” Haggas said.

“I wanted to run him earlier than that so the Lockinge is probably a long shot, but I need to get his show back on the road, he’s in good shape.

“He’s only run once since the St James’s Palace and he’s very much trying to get his show back on the road.

“He’s a talented horse but a fragile one, but to be fair to him he’s trained very well this spring.”

Stablemate Montassib started his season on a high note when landing the Cammidge Trophy ahead of Marshman at Doncaster on the opening weekend of the turf season, though the runner-up was well beaten in the Abernant next time out.

Montassib coming home to win the Cammidge Trophy
Montassib coming home to win the Cammidge Trophy (Nigel French/PA)

The Duke Of York could await Haggas’ runner and there are French contests on the table also.

“He needs a bit of cut in the ground and he’s in the Duke Of York, he might go there,” the trainer said.

“The form of his race at Doncaster fell in a heap in the Abernant the other day and he could go for a Listed race at Chantilly on May 14 – we might do that.”

One Haggas runner that will not be seen on a racecourse again is Sense Of Duty, a talented Group-winning mare whose career has been cut short by an injury.

“Regrettably I think she has fractured her pelvis, so she will sadly be retired,” Haggas said.

Sense of Duty winning the Chipchase Stakes
Sense of Duty winning the Chipchase Stakes (Richard Sellers/PA)

“It’s very frustrating for Andrew Stone who owns her, but she will make a broodmare for him.

“It’s always horrible for a trainer when you know a horse has talent and you never get to the bottom of her.”

Derby bid on the agenda for Voyage after belated debut win

Owner Julie Wood is dreaming of Derby glory with Voyage after seeing her patience being rewarded with a debut victory in the Darley Novice Stakes at Newbury.

Sent off a relatively unconsidered 28-1 chance and seemingly the second string of Richard Hannon behind Sam Hawkens, Voyage travelled like a dream for Pat Dobbs.

While all his rivals were under pressure entering the final furlong, Dobbs was sat motionless at the head of the pincer movement.

The worry was, having travelled so well up to that point, what would he find under pressure? The answer was plenty, as while several made ground from the rear, including Harry Charlton’s Vanish, he could only close to within a length and three-quarters.

“Julie was right by giving the horse a lot of time last year and we brought him here to do a piece of work after the last National Hunt meeting and he worked OK there, but was a bit keen,” said Hannon.

“I liked the horse that finished fifth (Sam Hawkens) a lot and this is not a complete surprise, as he’s shown plenty, but you know what Julie is like, she likes to have a go at the big ones.”

Wood said: “You never know what you have until you ask them, you never know what you’re sitting on.

“I wasn’t worried about the soft ground, but we were just a bit worried about him settling and he still seemed to be finding plenty at the end of the race and Pat didn’t really need to get serious with him, he just pushed him out and the horse changed legs and he was off.

“I have always had a dream of having a horse good enough to line up in the Derby and maybe this is it? To come here today and win in that going is a good effort and Pat rode him really well.

“It’s great to be back at Newbury and to have a horse come up the straight like that against some quality, well-bred animals is really something.

“It’s my 24th year with Richard and I’m still enjoying it, still as fresh as ever. Every season you have new hope and however the dice roll, we’re there to play them and we’ll enjoy every moment.

“I don’t know whether we go straight to the Derby and obviously we need to get a minimum rating to run in the Derby, which he might get after today’s performance.

“We will see how he comes out of today, we have enough time to do something (a trial) but we haven’t entered him anything – today was the aim and the Derby was the hope.”

Hannon and Wood could have another Classic contender on their hands in the form of Star Style, who lived up to her name in the concluding Bridget “Confined” Maiden Fillies’ Stakes.

The daughter of Zoustar holds entries for both the Qipco 1000 Guineas and Irish equivalent and the owner suggested a big-race tilt could be on the cards next for the filly, who was sent off the 3-1 joint-favourite here in Berkshire.

Wood continued: “She’s a lovely filly who has shown lots of ability at home, but again you never know until you get here. She’s just produced that and more today.

“She’s a lovely size, a nice, big, scopey filly and obviously the excitement is she’s in both the English and Irish Guineas because we thought she had some ability.

“At least we can breathe a sigh of relief now and go from there. If we all think it is the right thing to do we will probably give one a go. I love racing both in Britain and Ireland, but I would love to take in our home one if I could. Again, there’s another dream alive.”

Royal Ascot could beckon for Hannon’s Hawaiian following a smooth winning debut in the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup EBF Maiden Stakes.

A field of eight unraced juveniles lined up from some of the biggest yards in the country, with Hannon’s Kodiac colt sent off the 11-8 favourite.

Sean Levey was always in command on Sheikh Mohammed Obaid’s homebred, and while the winning distance over Clive Cox’s Star Anthem was only a neck, he never truly looked in any danger of being beaten.

Fresh from winning the Craven Stakes with Haatem on Thursday, Hannon clearly has his string in good order at this early stage of the season.

“He did a bit of work at Kempton and I thought it was a little bit too good to be true,” said Hannon.

“He’s done everything so easily at home, he hasn’t learned anything and he might have just learned something today.

“Sean said if he had made the running, it might have made it easier, but we think a fair bit of him and he’s a fast horse who we will stick to five furlongs with at the moment.

“It’s a bit early doors to be talking about Royal Ascot, but we might look at a Lily Agnes or something on the way. He will need one more run before Ascot just to be sure.

“He’s very fast, knows his job and that will do him good. I hope he is an Ascot horse and he travelled great. That experience under his belt will do him good and I think he will improve a lot from that, like all ours do.”

Hawaiian looks good in keeping up Hannon momentum

Royal Ascot could beckon for Richard Hannon’s Hawaiian following a smooth winning debut in the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup EBF Maiden Stakes at Newbury.

A field of eight unraced juveniles lined up from some of the biggest yards in the country, with Hannon’s Kodiac colt sent off the 11-8 favourite.

Sean Levey was always in command on Sheikh Mohammed Obaid’s homebred, and while the winning distance over Clive Cox’s Star Anthem was only a neck, he never truly looked in any danger of being beaten.

Fresh from winning the Craven Stakes with Haatem on Thursday, Hannon clearly has his string in good order at this early stage of the season.

“He did a bit of work at Kempton and I thought it was a little bit too good to be true,” said Hannon.

“He’s done everything so easily at home he hasn’t learned anything and he might have just learned something today.

“Sean said if he had made the running it might have made it easier, but we think a fair bit of him and he’s a fast horse who we will stick to five furlongs with at the moment.

“It’s a bit early doors to be talking about Royal Ascot, but we might look at a Lily Agnes or something on the way. He will need one more run before Ascot just to be sure.

“He’s very fast, knows his job and that will do him good. I hope he is an Ascot horse and he travelled great. That experience under his belt will do him good and I think he will improve a lot from that, like all ours do.”

Haggas working towards Hardwicke goal with Desert Hero

A Royal Ascot repeat will be on Desert Hero’s agenda when he returns to the track this summer, with William Haggas keen to head to the Hardwicke Stakes in peak condition.

The son of Sea The Stars entered the record books at last year’s Royal meeting when his last-gasp King George V Stakes success provided the King and Queen with their first Royal Ascot champion and prompted joyous scenes in the royal box.

He would go on to land the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood on his next start which teed-up a shot at the St Leger, where Desert Hero would finish an honourable third in the presence of his owners.

Initial talk of a Melbourne Cup bid was soon curtailed and with the Somerville Lodge handler electing against taking him to Australia this side of the new year, he is pleasing Haggas at home as he builds towards the start of his four-year-old campaign.

The King and Queen with Desert Hero after winning at Royal Ascot
The King and Queen with Desert Hero after winning at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

The earlier part of the season will have a Royal Ascot focus, with the Hardwicke Stakes currently nominated as Desert Hero’s target for the summer showpiece.

“He’s done really well and I’m really pleased with him,” said Haggas.

“We cut (gelded) him over the winter and took the view he was unlikely to make a stallion, or a stallion that would be popular for anyone, and that he still had plenty of mileage as a racehorse. I think he will be better for being gelded and hopefully he will have a good season.

“He will have a run or two, probably only a run, and it would be very much the Hardwicke. It would be lovely to go back to Ascot with a chance for him.”

For his Royal Ascot tune-up, Desert Hero could tread a similar path to 12 months ago by appearing on Lockinge Day at Newbury on May 18.

The four-year-old reappeared in the London Gold Cup on that card in 2023 and Haggas has tentatively suggested that the Al Rayyan Stakes, previously known as the Aston Park, could be the ideal spot to return to action.

“It will depend how quickly he comes to hand, but the obvious race is the Aston Park,” he continued.

“He ran in the London Gold Cup last year at Newbury and the Aston Park is on the same day, a valuable Group Three race.

“He will be penalty free for that and if you are asking me in March where he will go, then off the top of my head that is what I would say.

“It’s very possible he will start there. That to me looks the perfect place to start him with a nice gap until Royal Ascot.”

Anno Power play giving Fry much to look forward to

Anno Power has left Harry Fry full of excitement after booking her ticket to Aintree with a scintillating display at Ascot on Saturday.

Held in high regard by her trainer, the five-year-old suffered a narrow reversal at the hands of Ben Pauling’s Dunskay on her debut, but put the record straight in breathtaking fashion when sent off the 5-4 favourite for the British EBF Mares’ Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Having succumbed to keenness in her first outing, she was ridden cold by Jonathan Burke at Ascot and still had the whole field to pass before her jockey flicked the switch within the final two furlongs.

She quickened impressively, swallowing up her rivals one by one, before hitting full flow as she hit the line almost three lengths clear of the runner-up, the Karl Burke-trained Nala The Lioness.

Anno Power will now be held back for the Grade Two Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race on the opening day of Aintree’s Grand National Festival (April 11), a race won in the last two years by Ashroe Diamond (2022) and Dysart Enos (2023).

“We’re very excited with her and to be honest I was rather disappointed when she got beat the first day at Exeter,” said Fry.

“She over-raced a bit that day and was last off the bridle up against a horse of Ben Pauling’s who won again last week under a penalty and looks a useful young horse. It turned into a bit of a duel up the straight at Exeter, which didn’t play to our strengths but we learnt plenty about her.

“She was running against mares for the first time on Saturday and we knew first and foremost we needed to get her switched off to give herself a chance, hence why Johnny rode such a patient race.

Anno Power after winning at Ascot
Anno Power after winning at Ascot (Steven Paston/PA)

“We were trying to teach her with the future in mind and she had to settle. If she was capable of what we think she is, then when he asked her turning in, we would be able to see if she could go and win the race – and the manner in which she did was hugely exciting.

“It was impressive to see her pass the field like she did and quicken and then keep quickening to the line and then gallop right through the line.

“I was delighted to see her take that next step forward and now we can go to Aintree for the Grade Two mares’ bumper on the opening day of the Grand National meeting. That would probably be that for this season and then she will be a nice novice hurdling prospect for next season.”

L’Homme Presse team able to take plenty of positives from Ascot second

The Cheltenham Gold Cup dream is still alive for Andy Edwards, despite L’Homme Presse having to settle for second behind an on-song Pic D’Orhy in the Betfair Ascot Chase.

Edwards, who co-owns the horse with Peter and Patricia Pink, described taking on the likes of Pic D’Orhy and Ahoy Senor in the Ascot Grade One as a privilege prior to the race and although his pride and joy may have tasted defeat in this particular battle, he was taking plenty of positives from the outing in Berkshire.

Connections missed out on their chance to compete in the blue riband last season when injury struck Venetia Williams’ stable star.

However, despite being eased in the Gold Cup betting following his Ascot reverse, L’Homme Presse’s sights are firmly locked on a return to Prestbury Park and a course that has been the scene of some of the nine-year-old’s best performances.

“He’s got the same chance that he had yesterday as he has now, he’s the horse that he is,” said Edwards.

L'Homme Presse (left) had no answer to Pic D'Orhy
L’Homme Presse (left) had no answer to Pic D’Orhy (Steven Paston/PA)

“It was a bit short for him that race, the ground has dried out, but no excuses, the winner has won well and we’re very happy.

“He’s ran through the line and was doing his best work at the end. The extra five furlongs (in the Gold Cup) is his ideal trip and it was always going to be tough when there was no rain last night.”

L’Homme Presse had made a scintillating return from injury at Lingfield last month, but found himself behind the eight ball from an early stage as Pic D’Orhy took full advantage of a home fixture at a track he knows well, bouncing out and making all.

It was a race ultimately contested on drying good to soft ground and despite a momentary consideration about pulling stumps and heading straight to the Cheltenham Festival, connections took the sporting option to compete and complete their Gold Cup prep as planned.

Edwards added: “We did half-think about pulling him out, but he needed the run before the Gold Cup, so we have to be happy. He needed the run to sharpen him up and things today were in Pic D’Orhy’s favour.

“If there were any nerves it was that something could go wrong today. That was great though, he has run through the line and if it was good to soft, soft in places it could have been a different result.”

Edwards has never hesitated in saying last year’s injury setback, which saw L’Homme Presse off the track for 391 days, has taught him to appreciate every opportunity to compete on the big stage and despite heading home with only a silver medal around his neck, there was an unmovable smile from his face.

“It’s a privilege to be in a Grade One and that’s what it is all about and we will enjoy the moment. We’re happy, Ahoy Senor’s team are happy and now we can go to Cheltenham smiling.

“We got away with it at Lingfield, we didn’t today, but at the end of the day we have come second in a Grade One at Ascot and I’m happy.”

Threeunderthrufive sets up potential National bid

Threeunderthrufive put himself in the Randox Grand National picture with a terrific display off top-weight in the Injured Jockeys Fund Ambassadors Programme Swinley Handicap Chase at Ascot.

Despite being three-time winner over fences, he had not found the scoresheet since his novice days where he was deemed good enough to compete in Grade One company at the Cheltenham Festival.

However, two encouraging runs in defeat this season suggested a victory was not far away and having disputed the lead for the majority of the £100,000 event with Dan Skelton’s Shan Blue, he showed his class to come home a length ahead of Henry Daly’s fast-closing Rapper.

The 5-1 winner was trimmed to 25-1 from 33s by both Paddy Power and Betfair for the Aintree showpiece in April, and with Paul Nicholls ruling out a run at Prestbury Park next month, that assignment could be next for the McNeill family-owned nine-year-old.

“He’s got an entry for the National and he jumped really well today,” said Nicholls.

“He wouldn’t want the ground too soft, that (ground) today was just perfect for him and he will also have an entry in the Scottish National and the bet365 Gold Cup (at Sandown).

“He’s not going to go to Cheltenham in three weeks’ time, I wouldn’t have thought, and Max (McNeill, owner) is quite keen on him running in the National.”

He added: “I’ve always had a reservation about his jumping, but today it was as good as I’ve ever seen him jump. But he’s also better right-handed so there’s lots of things to consider and think about.

“For me the perfect race for him is the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown at the end of the season, but whether we go to Aintree or not, we will all have a chat and make a plan.

“We’ll see what Max wants to do and what Harry (Cobden) thinks. Harry I think is lukewarm, so I will see what he says, but it was nice to win a £100,000 race with him off that mark. He’s a good horse who has deserved to win a nice race.”

Jockey Joe Anderson was able to breathe a sigh of relief after Neil Mulholland’s Mothill continued his rise up the handicap hurdle ranks in the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards Handicap Hurdle.

Anderson garnered plenty of praise for his miraculous recovery aboard Transmission at Plumpton last month but having dropped his whip, he had a willing partner to get him trouble as the 18-1 shot Mothill outbattled Ben Pauling’s Bad at the finish.

“I never realised Joe had dropped his stick until he came back in so if he had got beat he would have been a bit unlucky,” said Mulholland

“He’s such a solid genuine little horse and stuck his head down all the way to the line, it was a great result.

“I think this shows you how solid of a little performer he is. He got into a bit of trouble round Kempton last time and we were hoping he could be placed today, so to win it is a bonus.

“We will see what the handicapper does today and he can’t get carried away too much and we can make the entries and if he doesn’t get in then you have Aintree.

“Somewhere like Aintree might suit him and I know this is quite a stiff finish from Swinley Bottom, but he’s a versatile little horse. There’s a few handicaps we can look at.”

Pic D’Orhy makes all for stylish Ascot Chase success

Harry Cobden excelled as Pic D’Orhy put in a faultless display of jumping to make every yard of the running in the Betfair Ascot Chase.

Second to Shishkin in the Grade One feature 12 months ago, the Paul Nicholls-trained nine-year-old put Venetia Williams’ Gold Cup contender L’Homme Presse to the sword from a long way out.

Cobden and his mount soon had the favourite out of his comfort zone with some slick jumping and very quickly had a five-length lead.

By meeting every fence on a good stride he was gaining ground all the time, and Charlie Deutsch was niggling away on L’Homme Presse, who was always jumping to his left.

Going down the back straight L’Homme Presse, Ahoy Senor and the big outsider Sail Away began to close in, but Cobden had saved plenty.

Pic D’Orhy put in an exhibition round of jumping
Pic D’Orhy put in an exhibition round of jumping (Steven Paston/PA)

Rounding the home bend he kicked Pic D’Orhy clear and the 13-8 chance put in a marvellous leap at the last to seal a five-and-a-half-length win from L’Homme Presse.

Nicholls said: “I enjoyed that immensely and when he jumped the first I thought ‘well he is going to take some beating’.

“At that trip today, it was a fantastic ride from Harry, we were always going to be positive.

“L’Homme Presse wasn’t jumping great, he was jumping left a bit and flat out and I knew what Harry was doing, he gave him a little breather, then kick in the belly turning in and away we go.

“He’s so good at that distance we don’t need to step up to three miles at the moment. Ultimately he would get it and next year we can have another talk about it (King George).

“I don’t know why after all his races, but he seems to be improving – today was the best I’ve ever seen him look and probably the best he’s ever run.

“To put good horses in their place like that was fantastic.

All smiles for connections of Pic D'Orhy
All smiles for connections of Pic D’Orhy (PA)

“The stiffer track probably suited him and last time at Kempton he was giving 3lb to a very good horse in Banbridge, but this track seems to bring out the best of him, he stays strong over that trip.

“It was a fantastic ride and that is why Harry is vying to be champion, he’s riding like a champion jockey.”

Pic D’Orhy was cut to 6-1 by Betfair for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, but Nicholls has always insisted a return to Aintree to defend his Melling Chase crown would be his spring objective and was not for shifting post-race.

“I suspect now we will go straight to Aintree,” continued Nicholls.

“He’s had a hard race there and I have Stage Star and Hitman to run in the Ryanair – Stage Star is in great shape. He’s had a hard race today and he was trained for today and now we will train him for Aintree.

“We went to Cheltenham with Kauto Star after he won here and he got beat and I think if you have a hard race here, it’s a tough ask to then go to Cheltenham, so we will give him plenty of time.

Jubilant scenes at Ascot
Jubilant scenes at Ascot (PA)

“It’s a great race to win. Rockforce won it, Silviniaco Conti and Cyrname – what a horse he was. This horse is altogether different to train than Cyrname who had a million problems, this horse has got it all and he keeps improving. I’m really pleased.

“Next year we could have a conversation about the King George. I have no doubt in a year’s time he will get the trip and it might just bring about the best in him. I’m sure Johnny (de la Hay, owner) and I will be having a chat about that.”

Having earlier struck with Threeunderfive in the afternoon’s feature handicap, Pic D’Orhy’s victory marked a double for Nicholls and Cobden and the winning rider was thrilled the nine-year-old is finally repaying the faith of connections.

He said: “It always helps when you have a horse going forward and there’s (L’Homme Presse) was a little bit stuttery and I winged the first, winged the second, winged the third and kept going – I’ve done it before and it hasn’t worked out and you get called a few things!

“It was probably a bit silly (to do what I did at the last) when I was that far clear – I’ve had some bad falls off him and there was a day at Newbury I thought he’d killed me and him.

“I remember one of the first times I rode him we went all the way to Auteuil and jumped about four hurdles and he flipped down the first down the back. Johnny had spent lots of money getting a private jet over there and the best thing about it was the sandwiches.

“We’ve had some bad days, but he’s repaid us and we’ve now had some great days. It’s great for Johnny as he is a huge supporter.”