Tag Archive for: Equilateral

Equilateral swoops late to grab York prize

Equilateral, running in his first handicap in the UK, defied top weight in the Sky Bet And Symphony Group-sponsored opener at York.

Trained by Charlie Hills, the sprinter is now in the veteran stage as an eight-year-old but is clearly still a force to be reckoned with.

While he had run in handicaps before, they had only been in Meydan, where he won the same event two years running in 2020 and 2021.

Since then he has spent his career dining at the top tables, running in Pattern races with his career-best effort coming behind stablemate Battaash in the 2020 King’s Stand when second.

He had run well earlier in the season to be second in both the Temple and Achilles Stakes at Haydock but was last of 11 at Goodwood behind Highfield Princess last time out.

In a typically helter-skelter affair, York specialist Copper Knight made a bold bid but was swamped close home, with Equilateral and Jamie Spencer beating Alligator Alley by a neck with a head back to Jm Jungle.

Hills said: “He’s a yard favourite, he’s always got his head over the door and the day he does leave will be very sad.

“He loves Dubai, he ran well this year without getting his head in front, hopefully that will give him confidence to go forward and go back into Group class. He loves that fast ground.

“He’s in the Flying Five at the Curragh and that is a definite option. If Khaadem can win a Group One at 80-1 then this fellow can!”

Forza Orta survived a stewards’ inquiry to claim the Sky Bet Stayers Handicap at 8-1.

Forza Orta ridden by jockey Rowan Scott (right) wins the Sky Bet Stayers Handicap
Forza Orta ridden by jockey Rowan Scott (right) wins the Sky Bet Stayers Handicap (Mike Egerton/PA)

Kevin Ryan’s charge showed real tenacity to hold off the Andrew Balding-trained 7-2 favourite Aztec Empire, who can could himself an unlucky loser having had his passage blocked at numerous key points in the closing stages of the extended two-mile heat.

Ryan said: “He got the trip well and he’s a horse we always felt would get this trip eventually.

“He was just looking a bit one paced over the shorter distances this year, it was time to try something different and I said if we were going to step him up, let’s do it at York and find out there.

“It was a good performance and it opens up an awful lot of avenues for us now.”

Designer (5-1) finished strongly to land the IRE Incentive, It Pays To Buy Irish Fillies’ Handicap for the second year running.

Last year it was David Egan in the saddle aboard John Butler’s three-year-old, but it was William Buick who did the steering this time as the daughter of Pearl Secret got motoring late on to edge out the 40-1 outsider Rage Of Bamby by a neck at the finish.

Designer ridden by jockey William Buick (second left) on their way to winning the Ireincentive, It Pays to Buy Irish Fillies’ Handicap
Designer ridden by jockey William Buick (second left) on their way to winning the Ireincentive, It Pays to Buy Irish Fillies’ Handicap (Mike Egerton/PA)

“She raced on her own, she was drawn right on the stands’ side in 14 on her own and I had to look for the speed that was drawn low,” explained Buick.

“She kind of made her own way down the middle and the second horse was quite a long way away from me. She was doing a lot of work by herself, but she didn’t back down and answered every call.

“On the line I really wasn’t sure who had won it, I thought the way she galloped out after the line she would have been an unfortunate loser.

“I thought she did very well and she’s a very straightforward filly.”

Heather Main’s Zoulu Chief continued to impress when landing the Sky Bet Nursery Handicap under Gina Mangan.

Zoulu Chief winning the Sky Bet Nursery Handicap
Zoulu Chief winning the Sky Bet Nursery Handicap (Mike Egerton/PA)

The chestnut has twice caused an upset by winning at a big price, notably taking a Newbury maiden at 150-1 in May and then winning at Windsor last time out at 28-1 – both times by four and three-quarter lengths.

He was not so overlooked on the Knavesmire as he started at 15-2 and made light work of 15 rivals to canter home under a 6lb penalty a length and a half ahead of the favourite, Starlust.

“It’s best to take it a step at a time and give him confidence, but I think it’s time for some Group races,” Main said.

“He’s had a hard week, two races quite close together. You never know when you follow up so quickly.”

Of whether she would consider the Flying Childers at Doncaster, Main said: “I’m half-thinking of it now.”

July Cup ‘obvious’ assignment for Khaadem

Royal Ascot hero Khaadem is likely to be supplemented for the Pertemps Network July Cup Stakes at Newmarket later this month, as long as conditions remain dry in the lead up to the feature sprinting showdown.

Charlie Hills’ seven-year-old has always threatened to be a high-class speedster and finally landed a long-awaited Group One victory when a shock 80-1 winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes at the Royal meeting.

The son of Dark Angel is reported to have bounced out of his Ascot run well and connections now appear keen to try to strike again while the iron is hot, with the Fitri Hay-owned gelding poised to be added to the line-up for the six-furlong contest on July 15, where opponents could include Commonwealth Cup one-two, Shaquille and Little Big Bear.

“He’s come of of Ascot really well. We haven’t done much with him since, but he’s been cantering and moving nicely,” said Hills.

“It’s taken a while to get the Group One, it was his ninth attempt someone told me. But we’ve always liked him a lot and especially when he won the Stewards’ Cup as a three-year-old, he looked like he was going to be a really good horse. It’s just taken a long time to get to where we are now.

“We didn’t put him in the July Cup, but I would say if it stays dry there is a good possibility he will be supplemented for it.

Jockey Jamie Spencer and Khaadem return after winning the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes
Jockey Jamie Spencer and Khaadem return after winning the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes (John Walton/PA)

“There are a couple of three-year-olds coming into the equation now which makes things more intriguing and it will be interesting to see how they do, but it’s mostly similar types of horses that we beat the other day, so I think it’s the obvious race to go for if it does stay dry.

“He loves fast ground so if it does stay dry, we will certainly have a good look at it.”

Also running with distinction in the Hay silks at the Royal meeting was the consistent Equilateral, who finished fifth behind Bradsell in the King’s Stand Stakes.

Charlie Hills trains both Khaadem and Equilateral
Charlie Hills trains both Khaadem and Equilateral (Mike Egerton/PA)

It was the eight-year-old’s fourth appearance in the opening-day Group One and he will now head to Sandown’s Coral Charge on Saturday looking for more luck than when suffering plenty of interference in sixth behind Raasel in the contest last year.

Hills continued: “He’s always run well at Ascot. He’s been second, he ran well there last year and obviously did well again this year.

“The race he is in this weekend, he was very unlucky in it last year, he never got a run at all. We hope for a bit of better luck this time. He seems in great form with himself.”