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Dubai Fountain rewards favourite-backers in Cheshire Oaks

Dubai Fountain booked her Epsom ticket as she made a successful reappearance in the Weatherbys ePassport Cheshire Oaks at Chester.

Mark Johnston’s filly was the clear standard-setter on juvenile form, which included a fourth-placed finish on her most recent appearance in the Group One Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in October.

The daughter of Teofilo was the 13-8 favourite for her comeback in the hands of Chester specialist Franny Norton, who after tracking the pacesetting Quenelle D’Or for much of the contest, committed for home before the home turn.

That decision from the veteran Liverpudlian may well have proved crucial, as the previously unbeaten Zeyaadah was briefly caught in a pocket before the gap came early in the home straight, by which time Dubai Fountain was in full flight.

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Zeyaadah made inroads late on, but the Johnston runner had enough in the tank to keep her at bay by a length.

Paddy Power cut both the winner and the runner-up to 14-1 from 20-1 for the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom on June 4, with the brilliant Enable the last horse to win both races in 2017.

Johnston said: “Franny said it was very stop-start and he was happy to get a lead, but the pace was on and off which didn’t really suit.

“He was having to wake her up and then steady her again, so he could never get her into a nice rhythm – he felt it wasn’t her best performance, but it was good enough for me, I was happy with that.

“It will be straight to Epsom now, we were saying throughout last year we thought she was an Oaks filly rather than a Guineas filly.

“She obviously failed to win a Group race last year, but she ran some great races. We’ve been thinking about the Oaks for a long time.

“She was beaten just a length by the Guineas winner (Mother Earth) over a mile last year, when we always felt she’d be better over further.

“I don’t think the key to her chance was going up in trip, she’s good enough, otherwise you’d be saying that about every horse who ran in a trial. She’s been running at that level (Group One) there’s no reason to think she’s not good enough.

Dubai Fountain (second left) came out on top in a
Dubai Fountain (second left) came out on top in a “stop-start” Cheshire Oaks (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“We’ll just have to hope there’s not one better!”

Norton said: “I didn’t find a rhythm straight away, but I was happy with where I was. Then I just felt it was all a bit muddly, a bit stop-start.

“Going down the gears and back up didn’t suit her, but once I revved her up three out it was game over. I could feel one coming, so she just needed a couple of flicks to keep her going.”

Sir Ron Priestley dominates from the front in Jockey Club Stakes

Sir Ron Priestley opened up a number of exciting options in making every yard of the running to land the Betfair Exchange Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket.

Second in the 2019 St Leger to Logician, Mark Johnston’s five-year-old entire was forced to miss the whole of 2020 through injury.

He returned to action at Nottingham recently with a good win at Listed level and bounded into an early lead under Franny Norton, where he was tracked by stablemate Thunderous.

Sir Ron Priestley has a big year ahead
Sir Ron Priestley has a big year ahead (John Walton/PA)

Pyledriver – third in last year’s Leger – was sent off the 15-8 joint-favourite along with the winner and emerged as the biggest threat in the closing stages.

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Martin Dwyer pulled him out to challenge and he briefly looked like making Sir Ron Priestley fight for it, but when Pyledriver began to run around under pressure, the Johnston raider kicked on again to win by two and a quarter lengths in impressive fashion.

Paddy Power cut the winner into 8-1 from 10s for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot – but another target may be on the agenda at the showpiece fixture.

Assistant trainer Charlie Johnston said: “Given what he did as a three-year-old, and largely because of who his brother (Subjectivist) is, we spent most of the winter thinking he was going to be a Cup horse this year.

“The Further Flight was a stepping-stone to the Yorkshire Cup and the Ascot Gold Cup – that is certainly the plan we had in our heads going to Nottingham.

“The way he travelled and picked up at Nottingham made us think a little bit and off the back of that we made the entry here and in the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot.

“Today was a great opportunity to find out what we should be aiming for for the rest of the year.

“In a small field on a track like this there were going to be no excuses and we were going to come out of here either knowing he wasn’t good enough at this trip and we were going to have to go back to Plan A of being a stayer, or the result we have had.

“He’s not in the Coronation Cup, which is a slight frustration in hindsight. The Yorkshire Cup and the Hardwicke will be the next two places, I’d have thought.

“This result means that certainly in the short-term he can stay away from his brother. I wouldn’t rule them out meeting at Goodwood further down the line.”

On his injury problems, he added: “He had a suspensory ligament issue in the spring of last year and we were trying to get him back for the Long Distance Cup at Ascot at the backend.

“Then he fractured pelvis around September time. They were two unrelated injuries, but combined, it kept him off the track for over 18 months.

“The next 24 hours are always nerve-racking with a horse with a history like that, so fingers crossed.”

Sir Ron Priestley scores on comeback

Mark Johnston’s 2019 St Leger runner-up Sir Ron Priestley defied a lengthy absence to make a winning return in the MansionBet Barry Hills Further Flight Stakes at Nottingham.

Having made giant strides as a three-year-old, which culminated in his second to Logician at Doncaster, Sir Ron Priestley was having his first run for 571 days.

Originally he was to be sold to Australia. But that deal fell through, and he then picked up two separate injuries which ruled him out of the whole of last summer.

Bounced into an early advantage for Franny Norton, Sir Ron Priestley kept on picking up the pace all the way down the straight – with favourite Ocean Wind moving up menacingly.

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However, just as so many that hail from the Middleham yard do, the 9-4 shot kept on finding for pressure – and with half-a-furlong to run, he began to pull away once more, winning the Listed contest by a length-and-a-half.

While his father completes the last few days of quarantine – having been on hand to witness Subjectivist, another smart stayer, win in Dubai last month – assistant trainer Charlie Johnston is holding the fort.

He said: “That was everything we could have asked for and more really.

“We were very happy with him at home. Franny had been to sit on him and said he felt as good as ever – but when they come back from that sort of lay-off, there is trepidation.

“He was very heavy compared to where he was 18 months ago, but he’s just a better horse now.

“We’re over the moon with that, and it’s got us dreaming about the summer ahead.”

There was a time the Johnstons dominated staying events with a pair of brothers in Double Trigger and Double Eclipse – and Sir Ron Priestley is a half-brother to Subjectivist.

“With Subjectivist, we are pretty certain we’re going down the Ascot and Goodwood route – but I think this lad could be more versatile in terms of trip,” Johnston told Racing TV.

“We made an entry this week for the Jockey Club Stakes over a mile-and-a-half.

“Nayef Road (last year’s Gold Cup runner-up) will try and defend his crown in the Sagaro, but he’s got to follow up two horses who have put up fantastic performances in the last fortnight.

“It’s a great hand to have in this division, for sure.”

Stat of the Day, 17th June 2020

Tuesday's pick was...

4.00 Chelmsford : Seneca Chief @ 11/4 BOG (2.34/1 after 15p Rule 4) WON at 6/4 (Tracked leader, pushed into lead over 1f out, pulled clear final furlong to win by three and a half lengths)

Wednesday's pick runs in the...

6.50 Chelmsford :

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?

Huraiz @ 4/1 BOG

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...in a 6-runner, Class 3, A/W handicap for 3yo over 7f on Polytrack worth £6,728 to the winner...

Why?...

Well, as usual, the racecard should be your starting point...

...and we can instantly see a 3yr old horse dropping in class for his second run in a handicap and trained by someone with a good record at this venue. He's priced at odds we can get some reasonable value from, is the top rated (OR) runner in the race and also is top of our SR ratings.

Starting with that green C5 icon denoting that Mark Johnston has a good record here at Chelmsford. This is, of course, true, but for terms of relevance today, this is what's interesting about this runner...

An excellent recent course and distance record with horses deemed to have at least a chance by the market, and of those 50 runners...

  • 12/29 (41.4%) for 5.77pts (+19.9%) in races worth £4k to £8k
  • 10/22 (45.5%) for 24.13pts (+109.7%) in fields of 5-8 runners
  • 6/19 (31.6%) for 5.96pts (+31.4%) were unplaced last time out
  • and 4/10 (40%) with Franny Norton in the saddle...

...whilst in 5-8 runner contests worth less than £8k, they are 7 from 14 (50% SR) for 7.69pts (+54.9% ROI).

And now onto that HC2  icon denoting a second run in a handicap and in particular this Mark Johnston angle...


...and those 51 runners include the following ten profitable angles...

  • 11/35 (31.4%) for 19.78pts (+56.5%) from male runners
  • 9/29 (31%) for 12.69pts (+43.8%) over 6 to 8 furlongs
  • 8/30 (26.7%) for 14.07pts (+46.9%) were unplaced last time out
  • 8/22 (36.4%) for 10.86pts (+49.4%) on Polytrack
  • 7/17 (41.2%) for 17.01pts (+100.1%) in races worth £4k to £8k
  • 7/15 (46.7%) for 34.3pts (+228.7%) in fields of 5-6 runners
  • 6/19 (31.6%) for 19.9pts (+104.7%) after a break of just 11-20 days
  • 5/25 (20%) for 13.3pts (+53.2%) in 3 yo races
  • 4/14 (28.6%) for 15.17pts (+108.3%) for jockey Franny Norton
  • and 3/6 (50%) for 6.27pts (+104.5%) here at Chelmsford

...steering us towards...a 1pt win bet on Huraiz @ 4/1 BOG as was offered by Bet365, Coral & Ladbrokes amongst others at 8.15am Wednesday, but as always please check your BOG status. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 6.50 Chelmsford

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!