Departure claims Cathedral honours on seasonal debut

Line Of Departure made a sparkling return to action in the British Stallion Studs EBF Cathedral Stakes at Salisbury.

Roger Varian’s charge won three times as a juvenile last season, including a valuable sales race success at Doncaster in September.

The Mehmas colt disappointed on his final start of 2020 in the Mill Reef Stakes, but bounced back to his best on his seasonal reappearance in what looked a strong renewal of this Listed contest.

Khaadem, who finished fourth in both the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot and the July Cup at Newmarket last summer, was the favourite at 11-8, with 7-2 chance Mums Tipple rated his biggest threat.

However, 8-1 shot Line Of Departure travelled strongly throughout in the hands of David Egan and showed a smart change of gear against the far rail to pull two and a quarter lengths clear of Khaadem with relative ease.

“We’re thrilled. He’s a nice colt to look forward to for the summer ahead,” said Varian.

“I’d like to thank connections for being patient. We would liked to have run him in a Commonwealth Cup trial, but we had heavy ground that weekend when there were suitable races at Haydock and Newbury and he’s a fast ground horse, so we had to change our focus a little bit.

“It’s great that he’s come and won as he did today – I thought he was very impressive.”

When asked whether the July Cup at Newmarket could be a realistic target, the trainer added: “We won’t make any plans today, but I think he’s a colt that on summer conditions we ought to be quite ambitious with.

“He’s a half-brother to Golden Horde, who was a very good sprinter, and now he’s a winner at Listed level we’ll have to consider ambitious options, I should think.

“He’d be deserving of his chance in some nice races after today’s performance.”

Alflaila finished with a flourish to make a winning debut in the Byerley Stud Peter & Virginia Walwyn Memorial Novice Stakes.

Owen Burrows won with newcomer Alflaila
Owen Burrows won with newcomer Alflaila (Simon Cooper/PA)

The Owen Burrows-trained juvenile was a 4-1 shot for his racecourse introduction in the hands of Jim Crowley.

Richard Hannon’s System looked sure to prevail after battling his way to the lead, but Alflaila found top gear late on and got up to score by half a length.

Burrows said: “He’s worked nicely at home, to be fair, so I’d have been disappointed if he hadn’t ran a race of promise.

“It was a good performance as I think it was Ralph Beckett’s horse (Cardinal Rouge) who came across us coming out of the stalls, they didn’t go very quick and I thought the front two had got away from us. He’s done well to pick them up.

“It was very pleasing, but we won’t make any plans just yet.”

Beyond Equal registered his third win at Salisbury with a comfortable success in the Yew Tree Inn Handicap.

Running over five furlongs for the first time in almost two years, the 9-4 favourite proved two lengths too strong for Lomu in the hands of Rob Hornby.

Winning trainer Stuart Kittow said: “That was very good – he deserved that.

“He’s very consistent and the race worked out well for him because they went a nice, fast pace. They go that bit quicker over five furlongs and it’s suited him well.

“We’ll stick to five furlongs now, I’d have thought.”