Tag Archive for: Grocer Jack

Grocer Jack aiming to blossom in Rose of Lancaster

Grocer Jack will be bidding to taste a sweet success when he runs in the Betfred Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock on Saturday.

William Haggas’ charge got off the mark for the Sommerville Lodge handler with an impressive nine-length victory in the Listed Steventon Stakes at Newbury last month and now makes the move up to Group Three company looking to expand his reputation.

He was twice a winner at this level for former handler Waldemar Hickst while trained in Germany and with all three victories coming over the 10-furlong trip, Haggas sees this contest as the perfect place for the son of Oasis Dream to continue his progression.

He said: “This is a step up from a Listed to a Group Three and he won two of those last year, so we will see how we go. He won very nicely at Newbury and we just have to see what happens on Saturday.”

Anmaat returned from a 287-day layoff to win the John Smith’s Cup at York and now runs in Group company for the first time.

“He won the John Smith’s off 103 and is up to 109 now, so it is going to be hard to be going the handicap route from now on, so this race slots in nicely and we’re excited to step him up into stakes company and see where we are,” said Owen Burrows of his four-time winner.

“He just got beat in the Cambridgeshire last year and it was a big performance to win the John Smith’s Cup off the back of 200-odd days off, so we’ll see where we stack up. He’s pleased me since York, the ground looks like it is coming right and we’re looking forward to it.

Anmaat, here ridden by Kevin Stott to win The John Smith's Cup at York, runs in the Betfred Rose Of Lancaster Stakes on Saturday
Anmaat, here ridden by Kevin Stott to win The John Smith’s Cup at York, runs in the Betfred Rose Of Lancaster Stakes on Saturday (Nigel French/PA)

Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Intellogent was third on that occasion and has also rattled the crossbar in the Royal Hunt Cup this season, while Saeed bin Suroor’s Passion And Glory is officially the second-highest rated runner in the line-up and arrives on the back of a victory in Sandown’s Gala Stakes.

Royal Champion hinted his future lies over a mile and a quarter when winning at Epsom during the Derby Festival and has to be respected for a Roger Varian team in good order.

The hat-trick-seeking Peter The Great also bids to build on some fine form in handicap company for heavyweight connections, while Andrew Balding is hoping a return to Merseyside can bring the best out of defending champion Foxes Tales.

“The horse seems in good form,” said Balding. “Things haven’t really panned out this year as we had hoped, but the return to what I hope will be good ground will help him and he’s in great form. Hopefully he will be competitive.”

The 10-strong line-up is completed by Richard Hughes Brentford Hope, Huxley Stakes runner-up Certain Lad and Roger Fell’s game Marie’s Diamond who was second in the Pomfret Stakes when last sighted.

Fell said: “They’ve put him up following Pontefract and unfortunately there is no where else to go. Fingers crossed it dries out as you know what you get with him, he really tries.”

Monday Musings: First World Problems

All is not well in the United Kingdom, writes Tony Stafford. No, not the fact that racing in the Midlands and South today and tomorrow has been called off because of the expectation of heatwave conditions. Everything seems to be grinding to a halt, apart from Covid which is enjoying an unexpected out-of-season revival.

We used to talk about “First World problems” when the wealthy had some of their expected enjoyment interrupted. Now we’re more like a Third World country, maybe not quite at the stage where, according to one much-used definition, “A country which struggles to meet basic human needs”, but one where daily frustrations are occurring more frequently wherever you look.

Covid of course has much to answer for, not least in the breakdown of international air travel. Contagion decimated (yes, I know it means reduced to a tenth! – so used advisedly) passenger travel and even as demand and eligibility to fly have begun to return to normal, staffing still has not.

On two days last week, Heathrow and Stansted, two of the three biggest airports in the UK, had problems for two of our leading stables. Much was made of Emily Upjohn’s being stranded at Stansted prior to her planned departure for Dublin and the Irish Oaks on Saturday. She might not have beaten Jessica Harrington’s Magical Lagoon, following on from her Ribblesdale Stakes victory, but she would have started favourite.

Incidentally, the Ribblesdale was also mentioned for the Gosden filly as a likely consolation after her narrow defeat by Tuesday in the Oaks at Epsom.  For a few strides on Saturday, another Ballydoyle distaff dredged up from the never-ending (until two years’ time anyway) supply of Galileo fillies, in the shape of Toy, loomed; but Magical Lagoon, also a daughter of the great sire, saw off her late challenge in determined style.

The other sufferer was a human one. Hughie Morrison had enjoyed a nice trip to Paris for the Bastille Day card at Longchamp on Thursday and, after a leisurely evening celebrating Quickthorn’s smooth victory in the £62k to the winner Group 2 Prix Maurice De Nieuil, he set off for Heathrow on Friday.

I needed to call him that morning and received a text instead saying, “Plane unable to land at Heathrow as it is too busy so have just landed back in Paris.” I haven’t had need to call Hughie since but trust he has managed to get back to base somehow in the interim.

Quickthorn, who was runner-up in last year’s Ebor to subsequent Irish St Leger winner Sonnyboyliston, is one of 84 horses nominated to next month’s renewal and contenders will be flexing their muscles aiming at the £300,000 first prize. Yes, don’t worry Gary Coffey, I am aware both Desert Crown and Quickthorn are by Nathaniel, and Westover by his Galileo contemporary, Frankel.

Meanwhile Emily Upjohn, denied a shot at the £240k available for Saturday’s Irish Classic, could be nominated this morning for a race worth three times as much as early as this weekend. According to the bookmakers, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes has three potential leading contenders, the respective Derby and Irish Derby winners, Desert Crown and Westover, and Emily Upjohn.

The guaranteed starter is Westover and it is a great shame that Sir Michael Stoute has confirmed Desert Crown will miss the race with a “foot niggle”.

No doubt Chris Stickels will be throwing the water on in a valiant attempt to provide a tolerable surface for all who show up. Fast ground versus a £700k prize: a truly First World problem!

The obvious drawback to an Emily Upjohn challenge is Mishriff, also trained by the Gosdens. His fast finish at Sandown after David Egan found trouble in running in that small field was highly creditable. By the way, that was by no means the only time young Master Egan got there too late in recent rides.

The main race every year on the evening Bastille Day card is the Grand Prix de Paris, effectively the French counterpart to the Derby since the shortening of the distance of the Prix du Jockey Club to 10.5 furlongs (2100 metres).

While the Jockey Club winner, Vadeni, went on to win the Eclipse Stakes from the aforementioned never nearer Mishriff at Sandown earlier this month, five-length runner-up El Bodegon was one of three international challengers for the six-horse Grand Prix prize.

James Ferguson’s runner was preferred in the market by Roger Varian’s unbeaten young stayer Eldar Eldarov, who had won the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot. Ferguson’s colt, a Group 1 winner as a juvenile in France, won their domestic argument but the Jockey Club form was turned over. Onesto, trained by Frank Chappet, had been fifth at Chantilly but came through to win here from another French colt, Simca Mille, the neck runner-up, with the Newmarket pair well behind in third and fourth.

Some of the weekend’s most exciting sport came at Newbury when the Weatherbys Super Sprint was, as ever, a highlight. It provided an all-the-way win for Eddie’s Boy, a throwback flying juvenile winner for Archie Watson who appeared to have gone away from his initial style of training, but with Hollie Doyle’s assistance reverted to type. Eddie’s Boy went off like the proverbial substance off a shovel and never looked likely to be troubled by any of the other 19 speedsters in the field.

The win came 90 minutes after a similarly facile victory by Little Big Bear in the Anglesey Stakes at The Curragh. The 2-5 shot, one of a bumper weekend of O’Brien/Moore juvenile winners, had previously won the Windsor Castle Stakes when Eddie’s Boy was third.

The Ascot second, George Scott’s Rocket Rodney, had gone on to win the Listed Dragon Stakes at Sandown and on Friday, Chateau, fourth at Ascot for Andrew Balding, won Newbury’s Listed Rose Bowl Stakes with a strong finish. Some race the Windsor Castle, normally the weakest of the Ascot juvenile contests, is turning out to have been.

The most compelling performance of the lot though was undoubtedly the first appearance in the UK of the now William Haggas-trained German import, Grocer Jack, who was bought for 700,000gns at last year’s Tattersalls Autumn Horses In Training sale having only recently clocked up his second career victory on his 14th start.

Admittedly, he had compiled a good record in Group 3 company in France last summer, winning once, and the year before was third over the line to In Swoop and the following year’s Arc winner, Torquator Tasso, in the German Derby before being disqualified when a banned substance was found in his post-race sample.

After the purchase, the now Saudi-owned five-year-old raced once in his owner’s country, finishing fifth in a Group 3 on the under-card of the Saudi Cup, in which Mishriff finished last having won the race 12 months previously.

Then Grocer Jack had a run-out in early June in France, finishing fourth, so hardly a performance that prepared us for what was to come at Newbury. Sent off by Tom Marquand in front in the Listed bet365 Stakes, the Grocer appeared to be taking matters into his own hands by racing very freely. The conventional thought was to expect Grocer Jack to come back to his field. He didn’t, and instead stretched the lead out to nine lengths by the finish, a margin that could probably have been more likely extended to 15 had Marquand wished.

The only reason I sat up and took notice of the horse is the memory of a song, called An Excerpt From a Teenage Opera from 1967 by an artist called Keith West – I know it’s a while ago. The subject of the song is Grocer Jack and it relates how he disappeared from the corner shop he ran for many years

Near the end, there’s the line, repeated more than once which says “Grocer Jack, Grocer Jack, he won’t come back!” He didn’t!

- TS

Grocer Jack serves up Steventon treat for Haggas team

Grocer Jack made all the running to return to winning form in the Listed bet365 Stakes at Newbury.

Tom Marquand got a good tune out of the Oasis Dream horse, who had won a couple of Group Three contests in Europe last year before arriving at William Haggas’ Newmarket yard.

Grocer Jack had finished fifth at the Saudi Cup meeting and fourth in a Group Two at Chantilly on his first two runs for the yard, with a change of tactics and a drop in class clearly helping him as he powered to a nine-length success from Cadillac.

Marquand said: “He was obviously an expensive purchase from Germany and people saw that hint of what he had in the tank. He has some really good form in the book.

“Saudi, running around on that sort of American-style track, just caught him really sharp on his first run in a long time and I got him all wrong in France – I was a step slow away and dropped him in and asked him to relax and he never did.

“He actually didn’t get beaten far and he ran a really good race and we were keen today to make the running or at least be positive on him and he has obviously really enjoyed it. He is pretty keen and head-strong.

“I think a mile and two is his trip. He could stay a mile and a half, but I don’t think there would be any rush to get there. Clearly, a positive mile-and-a-quarter ride is optimum.”

Morgan Fairy completed a double for the Haggas team
Morgan Fairy completed a double for the Haggas team (Zac Goodwin/PA)

The Haggas team completed a double, as did Hollie Doyle, who had earlier won the Weatherbys Super Sprint, when Morgan Fairy claimed a cosy win in the Lifetime In Racing Award Winner British EBF Premier Fillies’ Handicap Stakes.

With her husband Marquand having special dispensation to dash to France to ride My Prospero in the Prix Eugene Adam at Saint-Cloud, Doyle deputised on the Lope De Vega filly, who had finished in midfield in the Sandringham at Royal Ascot.

The partnership went on to score in the mile contest by an easy length and a half.

Maureen Haggas said: “She is doing well. She ran all right at Ascot and improved from it. She is learning all the time and she needs practice really, she needs racing. She has done nothing wrong there. The ground would probably be a little bit on the quick side for her – it is getting pretty fast now.

“We will see what the handicapper does and if she could run in another handicap, it wouldn’t do her any harm, but ultimately, if you can get some black type, that would be the aim. She is still a bit green, but she could probably win another handicap.”

Reshoun returned to winning ways
Reshoun returned to winning ways (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Former champion jockey Jim Crowley made it winner number 38 for the season when Reshoun backed up his fine runner-up effort in the Queen Alexandra at Royal Ascot, going one better in the Highclere Castle Gin Cup.

The Ian Williams-trained eight-year-old has become a useful stayer and relished this extended two-mile trip to score by three-quarters of a length from Rock Eagle.

Crowley said: “The horse stays very well – that is the one thing he does do – he stays two miles and five furlongs or two and three-quarters well.

“We just went a nice, even pace and he outstayed the rest of them on the day. He needs further than this – he stays longer than the mother-in-law.”

Hectic could step up in class now
Hectic could step up in class now (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Hectic may have a been a relatively cheap purchase as a £44,000 yearling, yet the Massaat colt looked above average when taking what looked an ordinary renewal of the bet365 Novice Stakes in the hands of Pat Dobbs.

The Richard Hannon inmate looks set for a bright future after the 100-30 chance drew readily clear in the closing stages of the six-furlong contest, handing the staying-on Alpha Capture a half-length beating, with Lahab a well-held third.

Hannon said: “He is there to be shot at in front and there is a lot of improvement to come from him. Dobbsy (Pat Dobbs) loves him. He said it didn’t feel like quick ground – he said the ground was lovely.

“He is a lovely horse and will be a nice one for the future. You might think of something like the Acomb at York.

“He is very nice horse and we have a few of these types waiting around, taking their time. He is quite a heavy-set, strong lad. He will get seven furlongs no problem, but has the speed for six all day long. That is probably quite a smart race.”