Lilac Road lunged late to deny one-time Classic hope Technique victory in a thrilling renewal of the British Stallion Studs EBF Upavon Fillies’ Stakes at Salisbury.
Down the field in the Oaks at Epsom in early June, the Martyn Meade-trained Technique had since finished a close second in the Group Three Hoppings Stakes at Newcastle and an honourable fourth in the Group One Nassau Stakes at Goodwood just a fortnight ago.
Dropping down to Listed class in the hands of champion jockey Oisin Murphy, the daughter of Mastercraftsman was the 2-1 favourite to get back on the winning trail, but again had to make do with minor honours.
The market leader travelled strongly for much of the 10-furlong journey and looked likely to prevail after moving to the lead.
But Tom Marquand conjured a late rattle out of the William Haggas-trained Lilac Road (11-2) – making her first appearance since finishing sixth in the Hoppings Stakes – and the judge confirmed she had passed the post a head in front.
Haggas said: “I’m delighted with that. We decided to change tactics and it’s worked out well.
“We’ve been riding her differently at home. She’d been making the running a long time now and we thought she gave up quite quickly at Newcastle last time. We gave her a short break and she’s come back really well.
“That was really pleasing today – a career-best. Tom is riding brilliantly at the moment and gave that filly a lovely ride today.”
Considering future plans for Lilac Road, the Newmarket handler added: “I would think we’ll probably step back up to a Group race. I was just thinking actually where to go, but we’ll find somewhere.
“I think she likes quick-ish ground, so we’ll see.”
Proceedings got under way with division one of the Byerley Stud British EBF Novice Stakes, which saw 100-1 shot Boafo Boy make a winning debut under Shane Kelly.
Despite his huge odds, the victory came as no great surprise to trainer Jamie Osborne.
He said: “There was a time when I probably paid more attention to the markets than I do at the moment. I suppose if I had been paying attention to the market I would have been tempted to have a few quid on him at that price, just because it was so wrong.
“Oisin Murphy has ridden the horse work a few times and liked him. Oisin was actually quite keen to ride him today, but he had to ride Andrew Balding’s horse (War In Heaven, finished third). If Oisin had been riding, he would have been a 10-1 chance.
“The way I do the two-year-olds, they’re trained to improve for their first run. Our first time out strike-rate is poor and our second time out strike-rate isn’t too bad.
“He’s a nice horse and just because he’s won it doesn’t mean he isn’t going to improve.”
The Marcus Tregoning-trained Ribhi made a big impression in division two of the six-furlong contest.
Making his racecourse introduction in the hands of Jim Crowley, the 20-1 winner quickened up smartly to leave 10-11 favourite Buoyant trailing in his wake.
“He’d been working well. The only reservation I had was how green he’d be,” said Tregoning.
“He’s quite a big, immature horse, but he’s always shown plenty.
“He hasn’t got any big-race entries. You’d be sort of thinking you’d go for another novice or something, we’ll see.”