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Great White Shark snaps up Cesarewitch prize

Great White Shark secured the most significant success of her career to provide trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Jason Watson with back-to-back victories in the Together For Racing International Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket.

Having teamed up to take the race prestigious two-and-a-quarter-mile prize 12 months ago with Stratum, the pair combined to good effect once again as the well-supported 9-2 favourite made light work of testing conditions.

Buried among runners for much of the contest, the grey mare, who finished 10th in last year’s race, steadily worked her way between rivals before being produced by Watson to mount a challenge approaching the final quarter of a mile.

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As those around her toiled, Great White Shark galloped on in resolute fashion to defeat top-weight Summer Moon by three lengths and complete a hat-trick of wins in the race for Closutton handler Mullins.

Watson said: “I couldn’t go early on in the race. It’s always tough as everyone is trying to get in a position they want to be in and I was a bit worried I was a bit too far back. There was so many horses in front of me I wasn’t too sure where I was.

“I spoke to the boys back home in Ireland, Willie and Paul Townend, and they just said keep her travelling as she loves being pushed along into the bridle and passing horses. They said keep her where she is happy as she will stay all day, and you know coming from Willie Mullins they will be fit and go through this ground and I had the horse for it.”

Though Great White Shark had plenty on her plate with half a mile of the contest remaining, Watson was confident his mount was always doing enough.

He said: “I was off the bridle going into the four and it was quite a gruel and she hit a flat spot, but in the end I was the one going forward and though it was a long way from home I was confident I was going to get up and she finished off really impressively.

Great White Shark hits the front under Jason Watson and the race is over
Great White Shark hits the front under Jason Watson and the race is over (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“She didn’t have the nicest of runs last year, but she still managed to finish 10th running on. They were very confident with the weight she had today. She had a big chance on paper, but it’s a 34-runner field and you never know what is going to happen – I was grateful I had the luck.”

Although Watson has ridden for Mullins on numerous occasions in the past, he still feels privileged to get the call up.

He added: “It is always nice to ride in these big races as they are tough to win. I’m lucky to get on one for a big stable and have a good chance on a good horse.

“Willie is a top-class trainer, you don’t need me to tell you that, and when you ride them you know they are not going to be short on the day and that is what every jockey wants.”

Haggas launches double assault on Cambridgeshire

William Haggas has two runners in his bid to win the bet365 Cambridgeshire for the first time at Newmarket on Saturday.

Seven days on from combining to land the Ayr Gold Cup with Nahaarr, Haggas and in-form jockey Tom Marquand team up with Sinjaari, who won the John Smith’s Cup at York on his only previous start this season in mid-July.

Haggas also saddles Montatham, who reverts to handicap company under Jim Crowley after finishing second in a Listed contest at Sandown recently, however, Ilaraab, the scheduled mount of Cieren Fallon, does not run.

Haggas said: “It might be asking a bit much of Sinjaari to win a John Smith’s Cup and a Cambridgeshire, but he’s very well and I’m very happy with him.

“He’s down in trip so there’s always a concern, but there aren’t many options for these good handicappers – they can run in Listed races and win £15,000, or wait for big pots like this. They may as well run for the big money.

“Montatham is going up in trip a bit, but he will love the cut in the ground and he’s very well, he’s been running well all year.

“They’ve both got decent chances, but I’m not convinced they are drawn on the right side. You’d hope with two to be spread across the track, but they are in two (Montatham) and six (Sinjaari) and having walked the track, the draw could scupper them, but there’s nothing I can do about that.”

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The Roger Charlton-trained Tempus bids to make it three from three for the year in the hands of Jason Watson.

A winner at Newbury in August on what was his first appearance in 10 months, the Kingman colt readily followed up at Ascot three weeks ago and carries a 4lb penalty for that victory as he goes in search of the hat-trick.

“He was a nice horse last season, but he has progressed really nicely,” said Watson.

Tempus (left) has been progressing nicely for Roger Charlton
Tempus (left) has been progressing nicely for Roger Charlton (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He had a long time off before running at Newbury and we were expecting him to need the run. He was mightily impressive at Ascot the last day and I believe he will come on for that again.

“My only concern would be the track as it is unique and not to the liking of every horse. That’s going to be the test for him as he has only really raced on nice, galloping tracks so far.

“I do think he has the class to hopefully overcome that. To me, he still has improvement left in him and the more rain that falls, the more it will help him.”

Ralph Beckett believes the demands of the race will bring out the best in Lucander, who won three times last season and opened his account for the current campaign at York last month.

Beckett said: “It was a good effort to win at York and he seems to like these big-field handicaps.

“I was always keen on the idea of the Cambridgeshire for him. The nature of the race will suit him really well.”

Sir Busker was narrowly beaten by Montatham on his penultimate start at York, before chasing home Century Dream in the Group Two Celebration Mile at Goodwood.

William Knight’s stable star must carry 9st 11lb on his return to a handicap, but connections are nevertheless hopeful he will run another big race.

Sam Hoskins, racing manager for owner Kennett Valley Thoroughbreds, said: “We’re really pleased with him at home and he’s a big horse, so he should be able to carry the weight.

Sir Busker won the Silver Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot
Sir Busker won the Silver Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot (Edward Whitaker/PA)

“Obviously there are a lot of young improvers who we’ll have to give weight to. We’re hopefully weighted to reverse placings with Montatham from their York form. Sir Busker has since run second in a Group Two, and Montatham was second at Sandown.

“He’s in great form. It’s a big task to try to win such a prestigious handicap off a mark of 111, but you never know. He’s a highly progressive horse and we’ll keep our fingers crossed – he’ll love the fast pace.”

Other hopefuls include Roger Varian’s Fifth Position, the Andrew Balding-trained Bell Rock and Al Rufaa from John Gosden’s yard.

Of the latter, Frankie Dettori told his Sporting Index blog: “I’ve won the Cambridgeshire three times and all three times I think I had Group horses in Halling, Wissahickon and Lord North.

“We don’t know if Al Ruffa is quite as good as those yet, but I certainly hope so. He’s a three-year-old who could improve further, but he’s got plenty of weight for what he’s done so far.

“He didn’t give his best running last time and it’s a wide-open race, but he’s still lightly-raced so fingers crossed.

“We’re drawn 22 and hopefully that’s the side that’s up with the pace, because sometimes you can win your half of the race and still finish 10 lengths behind!”

La Barrosa moves up in class at Newmarket

Impressive Ascot scorer La Barrosa tests the water at Group Three level in the Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket.

The Lope De Vega colt made a big impression on his racecourse introduction three weeks ago – showing a smart change of gear to leave his rivals, which included Enable’s half-brother Derab, trailing in his wake.

Trainer Charlie Appleby immediately identified Thursday’s seven-furlong contest as a suitable target for La Barrosa, and he will be widely-expected to dispatch five rivals on the Rowley Mile.

Appleby told www.godolphin.com: “La Barrosa produced a very pleasing debut at Ascot and has come out of the race well.

“We felt that he has shown us enough to merit the step up to Pattern company and this should tell us more about his future.”

His highest-rated opponent is the Richard Hannon-trained Ventura Tormenta, who carries a 5lb penalty for winning the Prix Robert Papin at Chantilly in July.

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Since that summer triumph in France, the son of Acclamation has finished last of 10 runners in the Phoenix Stakes in Ireland and sixth in the Flying Childers at Doncaster.

Hannon said: “We’ve gone up and down in trip with him a bit, but the guys that ride him think that this trip is what he wants.

“He was the last off the bridle over seven furlongs in a Group Two on the July Course (finished fifth in Superlative Stakes), so let’s hope we have made the right decision.

“I hope the ground isn’t too soft. He has been busy all season and he ran a good race last time out at Doncaster.”

Yazaman would not be winning out of turn for William Haggas, having filled the runner-up in the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot, the July Stakes at Newmarket, the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood and in a valuable sales race at Doncaster this season.

Qaader (Mark Johnston), Dark Lion (Roger Varian) and Albadri (Jane Chapple-Hyam) complete the sextet.

Six runners are also set to go to post for the Jockey Club Rose Bowl Stakes, which Roger Charlton’s stable stalwart Withhold is bidding to win for the second season running under Jason Watson.

The seven-year-old won a Listed prize on the July Course earlier this year and was last seen finishing second to Trueshan in a conditions event at Salisbury.

“He has dropped in and out of form this season – but as he has got older, he has got wiser,” said Watson.

“He has not been straightforward throughout his career, because he had little injuries and breaks. It was nice to see him run like he did at Salisbury the last day – giving weight away to all bar one.

“I know that was a drop in grade, but it showed that he is still willing to give it a go – and he was only beaten by a progressive, young stayer.

“It isn’t a big field and if we can get out in front and lob along, I think he will run a good race again.

“It really depends which Withhold turns up on the day.”

The standard is set by Johnston’s Mildenberger, who makes his first competitive appearance since being touched off by high-class stablemate Nayef Road in the Sagaro Stakes at Newcastle in early June.

Ghostwatch (Appleby), Ranch Hand (Andrew Balding), Sleeping Lion (James Fanshawe) and Who What When (Murty McGrath) are the other hopefuls.