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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.”

Fearby and Moss Gill set to fly flag for Bethell at York

Ed Bethell has his sights set on this month’s Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival with his stable stars Fearby and Moss Gill.

The Middleham-based trainer is aiming Dragon Stakes winner Fearby at the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes, with Moss Gill on course for the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes – in which he was a fine third to Battaash 12 months ago.

Fearby was last seen finishing second to Armor in the Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood, and is expected to be suited by a first attempt at six furlongs.

Bethell is in his first season with a licence after taking over from his father, James.

He said of Fearby: “He ran very well at Goodwood. Maybe the draw bias played against us – he was a bit centre pack, rather than up that rail, while there was a strong head wind that day.

Fearby showed his ability in the Dragon Stakes at Sandown
Fearby showed his ability in the Dragon Stakes at Sandown (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“We didn’t get any cover – that’s nobody’s fault, but just the way the race panned out. Would we have beaten the winner had we had a similar draw to him? It’s difficult to know.

“I was very happy with the way he ran – obviously we would have loved to have won, but the step up to six should be right up his street.

“He’s come out of that race really well – he’s very fresh. They’ll go a nice, good gallop on the flat six at York – and I hope he’ll hit the line strong.

“He’s not really ground dependent. He’s won on good to firm; he’s won on good to soft and he’s been second on soft. You’d almost think he needs a bit of rain, but I think you’ll see a better horse on a faster surface.”

Bethell revealed the £150,000 Group Two contest has been on the long-range radar for Fearby.

He added: “The owners are a northern-based syndicate, we’re a northern-based yard – and it was always the aim after he won the Listed race at Sandown to go for the Gimcrack. That’s been his main target this year.

“York is where we want to have winners – it’s where our catchment area is and it’s where all of our owners want to have runners. It will be a big thing for me to get the monkey off my back and saddle my first winner there.”

Fearby will be running at York for the first time, but Moss Gill has a long-standing affinity for the Knavesmire – most recently going down by just a length to smart filly Winter Power in the City Walls Stakes.

Bethell said: “I said to the owners we would work back from the Nunthorpe this year.

“His last run was probably his best run – giving Winter Power a lot of weight, having missed the break half a beat. He was only beaten a length and was closing towards the end of the race.

“The weights in the Nunthorpe play more into our hands than hers. While the opposition will obviously be different, with Suesa and Golden Pal potentially coming over … the absence of Battaash throws the race wide open.

“I think we’re an honest 10-1 shot – I wouldn’t expect us to be any shorter, but I wouldn’t expect us to be any longer either.

“He loves the track, and I’ve done a bit of stalls work with him to try and hit the lids a bit better. If we can do that, jump on terms and sit on the tails of the leaders, I think we can give them a little bit to worry about – given the way he’s come out of his last race.”

The Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival runs from Wednesday August 18 to Saturday August 21.

Moss Gill primed for City Walls defence

Moss Gill is reported to be in tip-top condition ahead of his attempt to win the John Smith’s City Walls Stakes at York on Saturday.

The No Nay Never gelding took the Listed contest 12 months ago before going on to finish third to Battaash in the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes back at York in August.

The five-year-old looked like he was coming back to his best when only beaten a neck by King’s Lynn in the Achilles Stakes at Haydock on his latest start.

Moss Gill pleased his trainer Ed Bethell in a workout last week and the North Yorkshire handler is expecting a big run from his smart sprinter.

“He ran a good race behind King’s Lynn and I’d say that was pretty rock solid. He was unlucky twice at Ascot and I would think he should run a big race,” he said.

“There are a few higher-rated than him, including Winter Power and Dakota Gold. They will be tough to take on, but he galloped last week and went really well. I think he’s going there with a big chance – and he loves the course.

“Soft ground would be fine. I’m hoping it dries to good to soft, but not sure it will. I don’t think the ground will raise any issues.”

Fearby was an impressive winner at Sandown
Fearby was an impressive winner at Sandown (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Bethell revealed he has given his exciting two-year-old Fearby an entry in the Al Basti Equiworld Gimcrack Stakes at York next month.

The Havana Gold colt gave Bethell, who took over the licence from father James this season, a first Listed success when winning Listed Dragon Stakes at Sandown last week.

“He was brilliant He’s come out of the race absolutely fine, but no firm plans,” he said.

“He’s been entered in the Gimcrack and I think the six furlongs there would be right up his street.”

Fearby roars to victory in Dragon Stakes

Ed Bethell’s debut season was given another highlight when Fearby ran out a convincing winner of the Coral Dragon Stakes at Sandown.

Fourth on his debut at Newcastle, in which Royal Ascot winner Perfect Power was just one place in front of him, he was a comfortable scorer at Wetherby last time out.

This represented a big step up in class to Listed level, but PJ McDonald was bold on the Havana Gold youngster.

Having hit the front at the furlong marker when heading Mojomaker, it was then taking the way he pulled five lengths clear.

Fellow northern raider Kaboo was sent off the 15-8 favourite on the back of a promising debut at Ascot, but found things happening too quickly and finished third behind the 13-2 winner.

For Bethell, who only took over from his father, James, at the turn of the year at Thorngill House in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, it was a first stakes win having also won the Spring Mile at Doncaster with Artistic Rifles.

“He’s a bonny little horse, but he is going to grow a bit and I’m delighted – he couldn’t do any more than that,” said Bethell.

“I came here hopeful he’d run a nice race, but that’s a surprise how we’ll he’s done it.

“His work was very good in the spring and he came alive before going to Newcastle, which turned out to be a very good race, and then duly obliged at Wetherby

“He’s improved since then, he’s actually been working with Moss Gill’s lead horse, that’s how fast I thought he was. I’m surprised how far he won, but not that he’s won.

“I’ll take him home, think about the Molecomb but there’s a race closer to home over six furlongs which might suit better called the Gimcrack. We’ll see, he’s just started to grow so we’ll see what the owners want to do.”

He added: “I can’t quite believe how the season is going, the team at home do a wonderful job and I’d be nowhere without them.”

Bethell plots Al Quoz challenge for Moss Gill

First-season trainer Ed Bethell has decided to take the plunge and run Moss Gill in this month’s Group One Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan.

Bethell is hoping Danny Tudhope will take the ride on his stable star in the six-furlong heat on Dubai World Cup night, March 27.

Tudhope has ridden Moss Gill three times in the past, including when third to Battaash in York’s Nunthorpe Stakes as well as to a Listed success at the same course.

Moss Gill made a promising reappearance when second to Lord Riddiford in an all-weather fast-track qualifier over five furlongs at Lingfield last month on his first start since October.

Bethell, who took over the licence of the family’s Thorngill Stables at Coverham, near Middleham, from his father James in the new year, is looking forward to trying Moss Gill back up at six furlongs.

“He’s going to go to Dubai, all being well, a week on Friday, for the Al Quoz Sprint,” said Bethell.

“All being well Danny Tudhope will ride him. He won a Listed race on him and was third in the Nunthorpe.

“He seems in good form and good heart. Although it will be a tough ask, it’s worth a million dollars, so why not roll the dice? It doesn’t happen every day running for a million.

“I’m really looking forward to getting him back to six furlongs. He’s run twice over six furlongs, and been second twice.”

Bethell believes the extra furlong will have a positive effect.

“I think in the higher level of races it will just allow him to travel better, and he might be able to carry the jockey into the race a bit stronger – and then you have that final burst of speed he has,” he said.

“At Lingfield he was just half a stride behind the bridle all the way round. I know it’s a sharp five. It was a bit similar to that in the Nunthorpe. In that high level of race it might just pay for him to go a furlong further, hold on to him a bit longer – and then go.

“Having spoken to the guys who have ridden him, they all agree.

“Hopefully, he can run a big race.”