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Highland Avenue stars for Charlie Appleby in Feilden Stakes

Highland Avenue led home a one-two for trainer Charlie Appleby in the bet365 Feilden Stakes at Newmarket.

The Moulton Paddocks maestro fired a formidable twin assault at the Listed contest, with William Buick riding Meydan winner Secret Protector and James Doyle aboard Highland Avenue, who was making his turf debut following successive all-weather wins at Kempton.

The pair could not be split in the market, with both horses a 9-2 chance, but Highland Avenue was ultimately an emphatic winner.

Always travelling strongly, the grey quickened up to grab the lead inside the final furlong and had plenty in the tank as he passed the post with just over a length in hand over his stablemate.

Secret Protector pulled six lengths clear of the remainder, headed by 2-1 favourite Royal Champion.

Appleby said of his winner: “He is doing everything the right way, in a fashion that we are not trying to achieve too much too soon with him. He is very much a horse that might not jump straight into the deep end just yet.

“He is mentally improving with each run. Physically, he is a big horse. With each run he is tightening up and skeletally is strengthening up well.

Highland Avenue leads the Feilden field
Highland Avenue leads the Feilden field (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“James was very pleased with the way he travelled. He said he picked up quickly and well in what looked like, and I felt, was a nice field.

“The second horse has added substance to it. It was a hard choice for William (Buick), but he had ridden Secret Protector and not this one, so he stuck with him. He is a horse that is probably crying out for a bit further.”

Highland Avenue holds entries in the Qipco 2000 Guineas and the Irish Derby, but Appleby is keen to take a patient approach.

He added: “He is well entered up, but we are in no rush with him. If anything, we would be coming back in trip with him. As this horse mentally sharpens up, he will get physically sharper and he will get quicker.

“I think you are more likely to see him at a mile than over 10 furlongs.

“At this moment I think a Guineas might be too much. I don’t want to lose this horse just by rolling the dice with him as he has got an engine.”

Fancy Man takes Feilden test on seasonal bow

Richard Hannon’s Fancy Man attempts to concede a 3lb penalty to some potentially smart rivals in Tuesday’s bet365 Feilden Stakes at Newmarket.

Winner of two of his three outings as a juvenile, his only defeat came at the hands of Cobh in a Listed event at Salisbury.

He was very impressive in a similar race at Haydock, however, and Hannon has high hopes for him this season – although his enthusiasm is tempered slightly by quick ground.

“He’s been working very well,” said Hannon.

“I’m a little bit worried if the ground gets too quick as he’s a big horse, that’s all, but he needs a run and he had a good year last year.

“This is nine furlongs rather than a mile, but I think he’ll get this sort of trip no problem. We’ve started the season well – hopefully it can continue.”

Andrew Balding’s Youth Spirit reappears having not been seen since a fine third to Aidan O’Brien’s Battleground in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.

Balding has also drawn hope form the fact his novice win at Newmarket contained six subsequent winners, including Yibir who won the Haynes, Hanson & Clark Conditions Stakes at Newbury, beating Listed scorer Megallan.

“He ran really well in a good race at Goodwood,” said Balding.

“The form of his Newmarket novice race looks strong, quite a few have come out and won.

“He’s a lovely horse and I’m really looking forward to getting him going. He seems in good form.

“Obviously he’ll come on a bit for the run, but he’s in good shape for his first run of the season.

“He did have a niggle after Goodwood and we ran out of time, so we decided to leave him for the year.”

Charlie Appleby runs two in Highland Avenue, a son of Dubawi out of Lumiere who has won his last two, and Secret Protector, who was a winner at Meydan.

Aidan O’Brien sends Arturo Toscanini, winner of his sole start at the Curragh last season, while Roger Varian’s Royal Champion has also won his only start to date.

The Feilden Stakes has produced some smart winners down the years, with Intello and Golden Horn on the recent roll of honour.