Tag Archive for: gordon richards stakes

Mostahdaf sparkles on Richards return

Though there were just three runners for the Group Three bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown, it proved a competitive race with Mostahdaf coming out on top.

The John and Thady Gosden-trained son of Frankel went from strength to strength last term, with his only defeat coming in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

Having handled this step up to a mile and a quarter well on his seasonal return, he looks as though he will go on to compete at a higher level this season.

Jim Crowley’s mount, sent off the 1-2 favourite, always looked to have the measure of Juan Elcano and having passed him two furlongs out, easily held off the staying-on Foxes Tale to score by two and a half lengths.

“He ran well throughout last season,” said Thady Gosden. “The St James’s Palace Stakes didn’t quite go according to plan, but we stepped him up to a mile and quarter here for the first time and he stayed it quite well.

“He relaxes very well, but the mile and a quarter suits him well for the moment.”

A return to Sandown for the Brigadier Gerard Stakes or the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot will now be on the agenda for Mostahdaf.

Gosden added: “He won over nine furlongs last year. It is a stiff mile and quarter here and the ground is riding a little bit dead at the moment, but he stayed well and it was a competitive enough race.

“There were three horses, but they are three solid horses and he did well.

“It can always be a bit trappy with three runners but they went a fairly solid clip the whole way and he put up a good fight when he had to.

“We are hopeful he will come on for that run. The Prince of Wales’s or a Brigadier Gerard will come under consideration, I would imagine.”

Emily Upjohn was well clear of her rivals
Emily Upjohn was well clear of her rivals (John Walton/PA)

The Gosden team made it a double with possible Oaks contender Emily Upjohn, who remained unbeaten after sauntering to a nine-and-a-half-length victory in the Nordoff Robbins Charlie Watts Memorial Fillies’ Novice Stakes.

Sent off the 5-4 favourite, Frankie Dettori’s mount galloped her 11 rivals into submission and will now take in the Musidora Stakes at York ahead of a possible Oaks tilt, for which she is 8-1 from 25s with Paddy Power.

“It was straightforward,” said Dettori. “I rode her the other morning and I thought, ‘wow!’

“Not many horses take my breath away and you like to see them do it in the afternoon. We carried a penalty, but if she is going to be an Oaks filly, she had to show us she can win with a penalty.

“I expected her to win, but not like that. All the signs she gave me the other morning, she managed to produce in the afternoon. It is a great relief, because with horses you live with dreams and sometimes it doesn’t happen, but she confirmed what we knew, that she was talented.”

Thady Gosden added: “She has done it very well under a 7lb penalty. The track was riding slow enough and it was her first run of the season. It is a stiff old hill and she has done it very well. She will come on for the run and hopefully she will go for a trial – the Musidora would be the obvious choice, but she is well balanced.”

Wanees (centre) has Royal Ascot on his agenda
Wanees (centre) has Royal Ascot on his agenda (John Walton/PA)

The Britannia Handicap is the plan for Wanees, who came from off the pace under the same jockey to land the bet365 Esher Cup and complete a double for Crowley.

The 100-30 chance settled well as he tracked the pace, and while long-time leader City Runner looked to have stolen a march two furlongs out, the former champion jockey had every move covered and he got up in the last half-furlong to score by half a length.

Hills said: “They went a good, strong gallop and Jamie (Spencer) probably gave his horse a good ride in front. We wanted to hold him up because he can be a bit keen at home. He is just a big, strong horse who wants to throw his weight about.

“He is bred for a bit further than this today, so we wanted to ride him the right way and learn a bit about his trip.

“It is a lovely race to win and he is a nice horse with a good future, I think. We might look at something like the Britannia next. He need to go up in the weights a little bit to get into that. A stiff mile would suit him.”

Live In The Dream came home clear in the opener
Live In The Dream came home clear in the opener (John Walton/PA)

Live In The Dream (13-2) ran out an easy winner of the bet365 Handicap.

Under 5lb claimer Sean Kirrane, the Adam West-trained Prince Of Lir gelding made all in the five-furlong contest and never looked in any danger as he powered to a three-and-three-quarter-length success over Auditor.

Though he won on his debut at Wolverhampton last August, he had gone five races without winning since then, but had shown plenty in defeat at Thirsk earlier this month.

“He got things so easy on his first run, he didn’t actually learn as much as we wanted to,” said West. “He has kind of had to learn on the job, but I’ve always thought he was better than his half-brother (Live In The Moment).

“The faster the ground, the better for him. I was concerned by a stiff five (furlongs) but if I thought if we came here and he fell 50 yards short of the line, we know we’d have a better chance at Epsom, Goodwood and York, where his main aims are this year.

“The Dash is the plan and if we can get both he and Live In The Moment there, it will be fantastic.”

Red Vineyard (centre) took the closer
Red Vineyard (centre) took the closer (John Walton/PA)

Red Vineyard (18-1) claimed the closing Bet Boost At bet365 Handicap for William Muir and Chris Grassick.

Tom Marquand’s mount, who was hiked into Group Three company on his second start last October, had three-quarters of a length to spare over Al Qareem at the end of the 10-furlong event.

Muir said: “We are always a bit brave. We will always have a go at these races (in Group races), but we shouldn’t have done, because he lost his strength. But I did that with Pyledriver and we didn’t hurt him.

“Tom is overly impressed by him. He said he did everything asked of him and a mile and a quarter was right on the button for him. He said, once he is 100 per cent fit and hard, he might get further.”

He added: “I haven’t got any immediate targets because I want to give him time between races.

“We could consider a London Gold Cup at Newbury or there is the big handicap, a mile and a quarter, at Royal Ascot. It is exciting. That’s what we want.”

Intriguing Gordon Richards Stakes in store at Sandown

Dante one-two Thunderous and Highest Ground renew rivalry in the bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown on Friday.

Usually one of the key trials for the Derby at Epsom, last season’s Dante Stakes was not run until early July due to the outbreak of coronavirus in the spring.

The York feature nevertheless threw up a stirring finish, with the Mark Johnston-trained Thunderous getting the better of Sir Michael Stoute’s odds-on favourite Highest Ground by a neck.

Thunderous will make his first competitive appearance since that triumph in the Group Three contest.

Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father, said: “We’re really looking forward to getting him back out.

“Obviously he’s a horse who still has a huge amount of potential and we’ve only managed to get to the track with him five times in his first two seasons, so we’re just pleased to be back and looking forward to it really.

“We’re 100 per cent happy in terms of the injuries – there’s no concerns there whatsoever. He’s been back in full work since before Christmas and I would fully expect him to improve for the run.

“He’s not run any further than the Dante trip at this stage, so we thought this ticks a lot of boxes as a comeback race and then we can learn a bit from this and hopefully build and go forward to even bigger and better things down the line.”

Highest Ground remains a colt of potential
Highest Ground remains a colt of potential (Steve Davies/PA)

Highest Ground was impressive in winning his first two starts, before coming up narrowly short in his hat-trick bid on the Knavesmire last summer.

The Frankel colt subsequently disappointed on his final start of 2020 in the Darley Stakes at Newmarket, but connections feel rain-softened ground was to blame for that below-par performance.

Alan Cooper, racing manager for owners the Niarchos family, said: “It’s very exciting to get him back on the track. He’s wintered very well and has been pleasing Sir Michael and Ryan (Moore).

“We felt he didn’t handle the soft ground at all at Newmarket the last time he ran. The weather forecast is good, so we should have perfect ground on Friday.

“It’s his first run for a long time and we’ll see what happens. Hopefully he’ll run a very good race.

“He’s a lightly-raced horse who missed part of last year. It’s a very nice race to start off the season in, so let’s hope it’s a nice introduction to get his season going.”

The father-son team of John and Thady Gosden is represented by Waldkonig – a half-brother to Arc winner Waldgeist.

Runner-up to Highest Ground at Haydock last summer, the son of Kingman made a successful return from 10 months off the track when landing a Pontefract handicap on his recent reappearance.

Thady Gosden said: “It was good to get him off to a good start this season at Pontefract as it can be a difficult track to handle. It was good to get his career back on track and give him some confidence.

“We have always thought plenty of him as he is a half-brother to an Arc winner by Kingman, so he has got the right sort of pedigree and hopefully things will start coming right on track for him.

“He was always a horse we hoped would improve from three to four, but at the same time it was a bit of a frustrating season last year as things didn’t go to plan – hopefully this year they will.

“This is a completely different challenge to the one at Pontefract and though it is a bit of a task, he is doing well at home.”

Hukum is an interesting contender for trainer Owen Burrows and late owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Shadwell operation.

Hukum winning the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury
Hukum winning the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Last season’s Geoffrey Freer Stakes winner drops half a mile in trip on his first start since finishing a creditable fifth in the St Leger at Doncaster in September.

Shadwell racing manager, Angus Gold, said: “He’s been in good form at home and was obviously a progressive horse last year. He always looked like he’d be a better four-year-old, so let’s hope that’s correct.

“I know Owen and his team have been very happy with the horse and I would have thought coming back in trip is in his favour, to be honest – I don’t think he’s an out-and-out stayer.

Extra Elusive is the mount of Hollie Doyle
Extra Elusive is the mount of Hollie Doyle (Tim Goode/PA)

“He’s got enough speed to be a mile and a half horse certainly, and there was this question mark over whether he’d stay the Leger trip.

“I don’t think it will be trip that beats him.”

Roger Charlton’s Extra Elusive returns to turf action after finishing well beaten but on dirt in February’s Saudi Cup.

Desert Encounter (Simcock) and Winter Reprise (David Menuisier) are the other hopefuls.