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Mystery Angel has the answers in Pretty Polly

Mystery Angel made her race fitness count as she took the Listed spoils in the Betfair Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket.

The daughter of Kodi Bear, having her fourth race of the year, defeated several highly-regarded rivals to enhance her own reputation.

Owned by the Nick Bradley Racing syndicate – who afforded her the loudest cheer of the weekend – she also put her rookie trainer George Boughey in the spotlight, giving the Newmarket-based handler the biggest success of his career to date.

Ridden by Ben Curtis, who was completing a double after winning the previous race with Zabeel Champion, Mystery Angel was always in the front rank.

Forever Grateful led in the early stages until Mystery Angel (13-2) set sail for home some way out.

Sea Karats was the only threat, but she was always playing second fiddle and went down by a length and three quarters.

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The first two pulled three and a quarter lengths clear of Taslima in third, while A’Shaari, the 6-4 favourite, was the disappointing horse in the race, finishing fifth.

Bradley said: “I’m a bit lost for words, to be honest.

“When she ran here at the backend of last year she did that (won well) and then we kind of got it wrong.

“Today was on better ground and it was great to see her do that in front of all the owners here on such a big day as we’ve always felt she was a top-class filly.

“You’re only allowed six owners here, but there’s 20-odd owners in this horse.

Mystery Angel has some big-race options now
Mystery Angel has some big-race options now (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I bought her at the breeze-ups here for 22,000 guineas and drove the horsebox home with her in it. By the time I got home, I only owned four per cent of her!

“She’ll probably go for the Group One Prix Saint-Alary, or perhaps the Musidora at York. We’ll have a think.

“She isn’t in the Oaks. We thought 10 furlongs would be her maximum trip as she’s by a sprinter, but we might be wrong.”

Boughey said: “It was a shame not to win in France six weeks ago, but she’s a very tough filly who obviously loves it here at Newmarket.

“I actually worked her on the Summer Gallop about a week ago on what was very fast ground and she worked very well.

“She’s an improving filly who handled the soft and heavy ground last year, but her work had suggested she was actually going to be better on faster ground.

Ben Curtis gave Mystery Angel a fine front-running ride
Ben Curtis gave Mystery Angel a fine front-running ride (David Davies/Jockey Club)

“She’s a filly with a pretty upward profile now. She’s in the Prix Saint-Alary, which she could go for, but the Musidora is another option.

“She’s not in the Oaks, but she’s putting a bit of prize-money in the pot now and it might be something we consider (supplementing). There’s a few nice decisions to make.

“She’s not bred to stay a mile, let alone a mile and a quarter. But the way she won there – galloping through the line – I certainly wouldn’t be against trying her over a mile and a half.”

Zabeel Champion keeps up winning momentum

Zabeel Champion completed a quickfire hat-trick with the narrowest of victories on the second day of the Guineas Festival at Newmarket.

Following back-to-back triumphs at Ripon – most recently scoring comfortably last weekend – Mark Johnston’s colt was a 9-4 chance to add to his tally in the Back And Lay On Betfair Exchange Handicap.

The front-running Grand Bazaar and Frankie Dettori looked to have done enough to hold on as he raced inside the last half-furlong, but he was joined by both Zabeel Champion and 7-4 favourite Global Storm on the line.

Following a brief wait, the judged confirmed the Ben Curtis-ridden Zabeel Champion the winner by a nose from Global Storm, with Grand Bazaar just a short head further away in third.

Mark Johnston was delighted with the victory of Zabeel Champion
Mark Johnston was delighted with the victory of Zabeel Champion (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Johnston said: “Jaber (Abdullah, owner) has sometimes not been too happy that we’ve been stepping him up to a mile and a half – and coming out of the dip, I thought he’d be telling me I got it wrong, but luckily he stayed on at the end.

“Today it looked like he could stay even further – it looked like he was beaten a furlong out.

“I suppose we’ll look at a handicap at Royal Ascot, depending on what the handicapper does. He is in the Hardwicke Stakes as well.

“He wasn’t entered at Ripon last Saturday until 11.50am and he wasn’t entered here until about 11.59am.

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“If everything else keeps failing to turn up, then he’ll keep turning up!”

River Alwen (centre) gets up to score at Newmarket
River Alwen (centre) gets up to score at Newmarket (Mike Egerton/PA)

River Alwen finished with a flourish to land top honours in the Better Odds On Betfair Exchange Handicap.

Western Symphony looked the likely winner after kicking for home racing out of the dip, but Jamie Spencer had kept a little up his sleeve aboard 5-1 shot River Alwen, who had finished fourth on his seasonal debut at Newbury a fortnight ago.

Richard Hannon’s charge was doing his best work in the final half-furlong on the Rowley Mile and got up to score by a length.

Spencer said: “He did well. He benefited from Newbury, he needed that run and was a bit fresh.

“He was dropped 2lb for that and this was a winnable race.

“I think 10 furlongs is his trip, but he will get more adaptable to middle-distances as he goes along.

“He should progress and improve again.”

Dig Two got off the mark in pleasing fashion
Dig Two got off the mark in pleasing fashion (Mike Egerton/PA)

Dig Two stepped up on his racecourse debut to open his account in the Betfair British EBF Maiden Stakes.

The Hugo Palmer-trained youngster was close to the pace set by My Dubawi in the closing stages and comfortably put the race to bed once set alight by James Doyle.

Dig Two (17-2), who was sixth at Windsor three weeks ago, bounded clear to score by two and three-quarter lengths from Secret Strength, the 11-8 favourite.

Doyle said: “I’m very pleased with him and I’m sure he will take a good step forward again.

“I’m not sure what Hugo’s plan is with him. Beforehand it didn’t look the strongest of events, but the time was good and he showed a willing attitude.”

Parachute looks to heading for Royal Ascot
Parachute looks to heading for Royal Ascot (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Connections of Parachute could look to the Royal meeting following his determined success in the Betfair Weighed In Podcast Handicap.

Ed Walker said of his 3-1 winner: “He is a funny horse as he doesn’t do a stroke at home. I’ve been saying, tongue in cheek, to the owners (Highclere Thoroughbred Racing) that he reminds me of English King who was a lazy workhorse that perks up on the track and this guy seems the same.

“I’d love to go for the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot as I think that would be perfect for him. I don’t know whether we would go again or just freshen him up for Ascot. He is a progressive horse that has very solid form.”

John Gosden claims third champion trainer title

John Gosden has been crowned champion Flat trainer for the third year running and fifth time in all.

The Newmarket handler has amassed £3,114,226 in prize money in the calendar year – more than £650,000 ahead of six-time winner, Aidan O’Brien.

“I would like to thank all of my staff for all of their endeavours in this most difficult of years,” Gosden told Great British Racing.

“My thanks to our owners, who have been so supportive, and to the whole racing industry for pulling together so effectively.”

Among his 149 winners this year, Gosden enjoyed seven British Group One triumphs including a record third King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Enable and a third successive Ascot Gold Cup and a fourth Goodwood Cup with Stradivarius.

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The 69-year-old trainer also claimed two Group One victories with Nazeef in the Falmouth Stakes and the Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes for champion owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.

Those big-race wins helped Sheikh Hamdan take that crown by £217,000 from Godolphin, with total prize money of £2,309,194 in the championship decided from June 1 to December 31 as a result of the pandemic.

Sheikh Hamdan’s racing manager Angus Gold said: “To win the champion owner title is a fantastic achievement for everyone involved, it’s what we all work hard for and strive to achieve. It’s been a difficult year for everyone, but we have been blessed on the track this year with some amazing horses.

“While it was sad for Sheikh Hamdan not being able to come over to the likes of Royal Ascot to see them in the flesh, he is incredibly enthusiastic – and winning the champion owner title means the world to him and all the team.”

Sheikh Hamdan recorded 112 victories in total this year, with other stars of the show being Battaash and his Sussex Stakes hero Mohaather.

Ben Curtis claimed the 2020 annual Flat jockeys’ title with a total of 170 victories during the year.

“Given the lockdown in March, I set out to pass the 100 winners mark – so to have surpassed that along with the many other talented jockeys in the weighing room at the moment, such as Hollie (Doyle) and Tom (Marquand), is a great achievement,” he said.

“For us to have reached those figures, all things considered, is fantastic for British racing.”

Curtis enjoyed three Group successes in June, the Pavilion and Sagaro Stakes at Newcastle with Dubai Station and Nayef Road respectively, before having his first Royal Ascot winner with Dandalla in the Albany Stakes.

“The standout win of the year for me has to be the Royal Ascot victory,” he added.

“To ride in those races and on those occasions is one of the main reasons I moved over to England in the first place, so to have got my first Royal Ascot win this year was a special moment.”

Ben Curtis and Rob Hornby sore and bruised but otherwise unscathed

Ben Curtis and Rob Hornby face short spells on the sidelines after escaping serious injury in nasty-looking incident at Wolverhampton on Tuesday.

Hornby was unseated from Villanelle about two furlongs from the finish of the Betway Casino Handicap, while Curtis and his mount Fortultous were brought down.

The two riders were treated on track, with Hornby soon sitting up after his spill. Curtis took longer before he thankfully got to his feet and was able to walk unaided to the ambluance.

His wife Shauna came to collect him, with fellow jockeys Ben Robinson and Cam Hardie taking his car home.

“I spoke to Ben this morning. He’s in good spirits considering. He’s going to hospital for scans, but he feels OK,” said his agent Simon Dodds.

“There’s a bit of stiffness in his neck and he has a sore leg, but he’s very lucky and looking forward to coming back as soon as he’s allowed.

“He’s having precautionary scans at the hospital today, but he feels 100 per cent. Obviously he has a red mark on his medical book so he’ll be out for at least six days. All things considered Ben’s really lucky.

“It was great to see him up and walking about after the fall.”

Hornby is expected to be back in action at the weekend.

His agent Nicky Adams said: “He’s having a couple of days just to recoup. He’s a little bit sore and bruised, but otherwise he’s OK.

“He’ll probably be back at the weekend.”

Kieran O’Neil was handed a 12-day suspension by the stewards for careless riding following an inquiry into the incident.

The stewards found O’Neill had allowed his mount to shift left-handed towards the rail when insufficiently clear of Villanelle. That caused the filly to clip heels, stumble and unseat Hornby resulting in Fortultous being brought down with Curtis unshipped.

Both horses ran loose, none the worse.

Ben Curtis handed 28-day ban following Covid-19 breach

Ben Curtis will be able to ride from Saturday after being given a 28-day ban, with 14 days suspended, for breaching Covid-19 protocols at Newmarket last month.

The rider was escorted from the track and stood down immediately for two weeks after he entered the owners’ zone on August 28, in contravention of the strict measures employed by the British Horseracing Authority to allow racing to continue.

Curtis last week had an application to lift that initial suspension turned down, but a full hearing of the independent disciplinary panel took place on Friday.

Curtis admitted he had used the incorrect owners’ entrance on arriving at the track, as well as contravening the Covid-19 protocols by crossing into the owners’ zone, where he had been filming a promotional video with two owners. He denied he had done so intentionally and any suggestion he had brought racing into disrepute.

In his evidence, Curtis said “he made a mistake on the day” that led to him entering the wrong area, with the rider adding he was “burnt out, exhausted and tired” after a busy period following the resumption of racing in June.

He stated his actions were not deliberate and put the cost of his enforced two-week absence at between “£10,000 and £12,000”.

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After hearing evidence from Gemma Steve, Jockey Club Racecourse’s head of operations for the east region, who was manning the owners’ entrance on August 28, and considering three other witness statements, the disciplinary panel found Curtis had breached Covid-19 regulations as well as rule (J)19, in that he had acted “in a manner prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of horseracing”.

Trainers William Haggas and Hugo Palmer had both written letters of support for Curtis, along with Dale Gibson, the Professional Jockeys Association’s executive director, and that was taken into account by chairman Philip Curl and his panel of Chloe Fairley and Steve Winfield.

In handing down the 28-day ban, with 14 days suspended for six months and the other two weeks backdated to August 28, Curl said: “We’ve tried to balance the seriousness of breaches of these Covid regulations with the mitigation in your case, which includes your character, your excellent record, the facts of this case, the loss you have already suffered from not riding and the financial consequences of that.”

However, Curl did issue a note of caution to all riders going forward that any future breaches are not certain to result in similar verdicts.

He said: “We wish to make it clear – perhaps you could spread the word in the weighing room – jockeys should not assume in the future that in Covid cases part of the penalty would be suspended.

“In the particular circumstances of this case, and your circumstances, we feel we can suspend part of it, but the weighing room is not to assume that is always going to be the case.”

The suspension entry point suggested under BHA rules for breaching Covid-19 protocols is three months and following the hearing, PJA chief executive Paul Struthers thanked the panel for reaching what he described as a “sensible” verdict.

He said: “We would like to thank the disciplinary panel for a fair hearing and for reaching an entirely sensible and rational conclusion on the appropriate sanction, bearing in mind Ben has already served a costly two-week suspension as required under racing’s Covid-19 protocols.

“We note that we have never had cause to complain about any decision, whether or not we agree with it, since the advent of the current judicial panel under the chairmanship of Brian Barker CBE QC.

“However, it is very disappointing that, through those instructed by its in-house compliance team, the BHA was seeking a three-month suspension, a punishment which would have had a catastrophic and immediate impact on Ben’s career and well-being.

“No doubt the BHA will try to justify this, but given the facts of the case and when compared to action taken by other sports, it is a stance that is impossible to fathom and was one with which the panel clearly didn’t agree.

“Unfortunately, the actions of the BHA’s compliance team were once again cause for concern and frustration. These actions damage the otherwise excellent relationship that the PJA and its members have with the BHA.

“Having sought to persuade a panel to take someone’s livelihood away for a quarter of a year for what amounts to a professional misjudgement, it is crucial for the BHA to hold others it regulates and itself to the same standards it expects of licensed jockeys and trainers.

“Ben is grateful to the support he has received from racing professionals and once again apologises unreservedly for his mistake.”

Stat of the Day, 7th July 2020

Monday's pick was...

7.15 Windsor : Talking About You @ 4/1 BOG 2nd at 4/1 (Held up in touch, headway chasing leaders 3f out, went 2nd over 2f out, led 2f out, ridden and hung badly left over 1f out, headed and no extra close home).

Tuesday's pick runs in the...

1.15 Pontefract :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Currently, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.30am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Music Therapist @ 5/1 BOG

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...in an 11-runner, Class 5, Flat handicap for 3yo over 5f on Good to Firm ground worth £3,493 to the winner...

Why?...

An initial glance at the expanded racecard gives us plenty to go at...

... so we've a horse who was a runner-up 8 days ago and now drops in class. He'll be ridden by a jockey, Ben Curtis, who rides this track well (23.9% SR since the start of 2018) and has done well for today's trainer (6 wins from 15 in the past 13 months), whilst our pick is just about top rated on speed figures.

To be honest, there was probably enough there to justify a bet at 5/1 when I initially put the pick up, but what the above doesn't tell you is that when a runner-up last week, Music Therapist's write-up of the result said..."raced keenly, led on rail, ridden and strongly pressed over 1f out, headed just inside final furlong, no extra." So, I'd guess the drop back in trip is also a bonus today.

In addition to the data held within the racecard, it might be of interest to know that since the start of 2018, trainer George Scott's handicappers dropping down a grade are...

...whilst since the start of the 2017 campaign, his Class 5 Flat handicappers sent off at 7/1 or shorter are...

...giving us...a 1pt win bet on Music Therapist @ 5/1 BOG as was available from Bet365, Coral, Ladbrokes, Sporting Bet & Unibet at 8.20am Tuesday, but as always please check your BOG statusTo see a small sample of odds offered on this race...

...click here for the betting on the 1.15 Pontefract

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!