Dashing Roger success could lead to bigger things

Dashing Roger could be aimed at some major handicaps later in the season on soft ground following his victory in the Coral Whitsun Cup Handicap at Sandown.

William Stone’s four-year-old improved in leaps and bounds during the last campaign, seeing his mark rise 21lb in the process.

He had failed to cut much ice in three races this season to date, but back on his favoured soft ground looked a different proposition.

Marco Ghiani struggled to get him to settle in the early stages, but once he did he was in the perfect position to strike and took two lengths out of the field.

Sword Beach began to close and Dashing Roger’s stride shortened up the hill, but he clung on for a fifth career success.

“He just loves the ground, that’s the key to him, it’s got to be soft,” said Stone of the 5-1 winner.

“Literally the softer the better. I think that is why he has been struggling, putting him back on this has helped.

“He was very keen and I was a bit worried he might get caught, but luckily the line came quick enough.

“I’d have to leave his targets up to the owner (Ron Spore), but they think a lot of him and we know it’s the ground that counts.

“Maybe the Balmoral at the end of the season (at Ascot) would be an option, but the main thing is the ground.”

Stone was narrowly denied a double when the Hollie Doyle-ridden Final Watch was just touched off in the Coral “Supporting Prostate Cancer” Handicap by Coul Kat (9-1).

Rod Millman’s three-year-old stuck to his task well under Ben Curtis to win by a length.

Rob Hornby in action aboard Sweet Reward (left, yellow/blue)
Rob Hornby in action aboard Sweet Reward (left, yellow/blue) (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Earlier on the card Jonathan Portman got saddled a welcome winner when Sweet Reward (10-1) came home in front in the Play Coral “Racing-Super-Series” For Free Handicap.

It was a first winner in 24 days for the trainer, who said: “His ideal trip is nine furlongs. He did stay today, but I was just worried about the stiff mile and a quarter on this sticky ground. Rob (Hornby) said he definitely stayed and he had to fight off several horses.

“He likes to get his toe in and he wouldn’t want it too firm. He is a very brave horse and it has taken a couple of races to blow the cobwebs away. I would have been disappointed if he wasn’t in the first three today. We’ve not run very many, but that was very welcome.”