Tag Archive for: john of gaunt stakes

Pogo sticks to his guns for John Of Gaunt victory

Charlie Hills was celebrating as Pogo held on gamely to scoop the Betfred John Of Gaunt Stakes in a thrilling four-way finish to the Group Three contest at Haydock.

Given an enterprising ride from the front by Kieran Shoemark, the son of Zebedee refused to be headed when challenged at all angles in the closing stages, holding on by a nose from Laneqash, with last-year’s winner Kinross a further neck adrift in third.

The Frankie Dettori-ridden Sunray Major completed the quartet disputing matters at the finish and although flying home from his position at the rear of the field inside the final two furlongs, he was half a length away from the winner at the line.

It was a welcome return to form for the six-year-old Pogo, who has been seen in globe-trotting action at both Meydan and Saudi Arabia in the early part of the year and was handed a quote of 25-1 by Betfair for the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood later in the year.

The winning trainer was delighted with the performance, saying: “That was fantastic and I thought Kieran gave him a peach of a ride. He used his initiative, got him to the front and controlled it from there really.

“He obviously has some very good form and I thought he ran some good races abroad over trips that probably weren’t ideal for him – seven furlongs suits him best.

“He really deserved to win a race like that and we might look to take him to France later in the year for races like the Prix Daniel Wildenstein and the Prix de la Foret.

“I was thinking we’d come here today and then look at the Criterion Stakes at Newmarket, but he’ll have a penalty in that now so we’ll see.”

Shoemark has now been aboard Pogo for four of his six career victories and added: “He’s very straightforward and quick from the gates, albeit he was probably a stride slower than usual today.

“He’s quick into his stride and I thought we got it very easy round the bend and I was able to ask him up the gears under no pressure. It was a game performance and that’s what he is – he does try.

Windsor Races – June 28th
Pogo ridden by Kieran Shoemark when winning at Windsor in 2021 (Hugh Routledge/PA)

“They came to me a furlong down and I thought they were going to go past me, but they never seemed to get any closer and he stuck his neck out.

“He’s a very likeable horse who has run some huge races. He’s been third in a Group One and placed in Group Twos and he’s a dual Listed winner, so it’s a bit of a relief and a feather in his cap to get a Group-race success.”

Lockinge run suggests Sunray in with major chance at Haydock

Connections of Sunray Major are hopeful he can make the most of a drop in distance and class in the John Of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock on Saturday.

A winner in novice and handicap company last term, the Dubawi entire failed to fire when favourite for the Balmoral Handicap at Ascot on Champions Day.

But having run with credit in both the bet365 Mile at Sandown and in the Lockinge at Newbury behind the brilliant Baaeed, he is well fancied to get back on the winning trail this weekend.

Barry Mahon, general manager of Ireland and European racing for owner-breeders Juddmonte, said: “He’s run two very good races in two hot contests and Frankie (Dettori) felt both times that he just doesn’t fully see out the mile.

“I think the drop to seven (furlongs) is hopefully going to have a positive effect and we’d like to think he can run a good race.

“It’s only two weeks since the Lockinge, but he’s a five-year-old who hasn’t had too many runs in his life, he took his race his race well and he’s ready to go again.”

Kinross winning last year's John of Gaunt Stakes
Kinross winning last year’s John of Gaunt Stakes (Tim Goode/PA)

Last year’s scorer Kinross bids for back-to-back victories for trainer Ralph Beckett.

The five-year-old was a clear-cut winner of the Group Three contest 12 months ago and went on to strike at Group Two level in the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood.

He subsequently ran with credit in two Group Ones in France and rounded off his campaign by finishing ninth in the Qipco British Champions Sprint at Ascot.

Kinross has not been seen in competitive action since that effort in October, but Beckett feels fitness should not be an issue as he readies his charge for a tilt at the Platinum Jubilee at Royal Ascot.

He said: “It is his first run of the year – we wanted to run in the Duke of York, but that didn’t happen, so this is practically our only option before Ascot.

“He’s a clean-winded horse and is not a horse who needs a lot of work.

“Obviously he runs without a penalty and it is a good job the rain has come.”

The second highest-rated horse in the field after Kinross is the Roger Varian-trained Laneqash, who also makes his seasonal debut on Merseyside.

In contrast to Beckett and Kinross, Varian feels quick ground suits Laneqash, who was twice placed at Group Two level in 2021 and has been gelded since.

Laneqash (centre) in action at Ascot
Laneqash (centre) in action at Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He’s done very well over the winter and he’s ready to run,” said Varian.

“He’s one who wouldn’t want any rain so if it came up good or good to firm, he would be a runner. He’s a nice horse and we’re looking forward to coming back on the track with him.

“He never lacked focus and his character was always good, but he was never going to be a stallion so it was right to geld him. I don’t know if it will improve him or not, but he’s started to train nicely.

“He’s been slow to come to hand this spring, but hopefully he’ll run a good race.”

Andrew Balding is looking forward to saddling Happy Power, who has been placed in two of three previous visits to Haydock.

The six-year-old was last seen winning the Listed King Richard III Stakes at Leicester and Balding feels he is at the peak of his powers.

“He’s worked well of late and is in good form. He obviously has some useful course form and we’re looking forward to seeing him run,” said the Kingsclere handler.

“We head there on the back of a win and he couldn’t be in any better form.”

Misty Grey at Epsom
Misty Grey at Epsom (Simon Cooper/PA)

Tom Dascombe expects the consistent Misty Grey to give another good account of himself, having finished third behind the exciting Aldaary in the Spring Trophy over the course and distance three weeks ago.

He said: “All I can tell you is my horse is very well. We had him in at Chester, but I just felt if we got a bad draw we had no chance, so we decided to go for this.

“He’s fit, happy and healthy and we take our chance.”

Karl Burke’s Spycatcher steps up in trip after filling the runner-up spot over six in the Duke of York, while Catch Twentytwo (Jane Chapple-Hyam) and Pogo (Charlie Hills) complete the field.