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Hannon eyeing end-of-season options for Mojo Star

Mojo Star is likely to be given one more opportunity to bag a major prize this season after another fine Classic effort, this time in the St Leger at Doncaster.

Richard Hannon’s charge found only Adayar too strong in the Derby at Epsom in early June, after which he finished a slightly disappointing fifth in the Irish Derby at the Curragh, enduring a rough passage in the race.

But following a confidence-boosting win in maiden company at Newbury last month, Mojo Star bounced back to his best to fill the runner-up spot behind Hurricane Lane in the world’s oldest Classic on Town Moor.

The Sea The Stars colt has the option of taking on Adayar and potentially Hurricane Lane once more in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, while he is also entered in the Qipco Champion Stakes and the British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Champions Day.

Hannon said: “He’s come out of the race fine and he’ll probably run again (this year).

“I haven’t discussed it yet with the owner. He (Mojo Star) has had a couple of days off out in the pen, so we’ll see.

“He has loads of options. He’s entered in races abroad and here – he’s in the two-mile race on Champions Day.

“It’s all about next year, but he will have one more run this year.”

Armor winning the Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood
Armor winning the Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood (John Walton/PA)

Hannon was out of luck in the Group races at Doncaster’s St Leger Festival, with high-class juveniles Armor and Lusail finishing second and fourth in the Flying Childers and Champagne Stakes respectively.

The pair could now meet in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday week.

“Armor ran a terrific race, and Lusail just doesn’t act on that ground – he was just wheel-spinning the whole way,” Hannon added.

“I thought Armor had the Flying Childers won, so I was gutted to get beat. He just got nailed on the line, but that’s how it goes.

“Both of them might have a go in the Middle Park. It just depends on ground.”

Mojo Star enjoys perfect Leger prep at Newbury

Derby runner-up Mojo Star warmed up for the Cazoo St Leger when getting off the mark as expected in the Academy Insurance British EBF Maiden Stakes at Newbury.

The Richard Hannon-trained colt outclassed his three rivals to score at the fifth attempt, with anyone who took prohibitive odds of 1-6 never having cause for concern at any stage during the mile-and a-half-contest, after drifting from 1-12.

Auriferous, seen as the only real threat to Mojo Star, made the running with the favourite on his heels and the other two runners soon several lengths adrift.

It was only a matter of time before David Egan made his move on Mojo Star and the son of Sea The Stars cruised into the lead over two furlongs.

He quickly put the race to bed and crossed the line four lengths clear of Auriferous. The first two were 50 lengths ahead of the third, Girandole.

Mojo Star remained unchanged at 12-1 with Betfair for the world’s oldest Classic at Doncaster next month with Betfair.

Hannon said: “I felt we were better off coming here and galloping and it will put him right for the Leger.

“It takes him a long time to get into top gear which is why the extra two furlongs will suit him at Doncaster. He’s not a horse that will go 20 lengths clear regardless of the standard of the opposition.

“David said he breezed for half a mile. There’s not many horses that would keep that gallop for as long as he does.

“It was a nice effort from him, and the second is no slouch.”

Aratus (second right) looks to have bags of potential
Aratus (second right) looks to have bags of potential (John Walton/PA)

Aratus looked a smart performer in the making when completing a hat-trick in the BetVictor Handicap.

Running in handicap company for the first time, Clive Cox’s lightly-raced colt made smooth progress from off the pace set by Magical Wish to seal matters with a decisive turn of foot.

Aratus (9-4 favourite) just had to be pushed out by Adam Kirby to hold Sunset Bay, who stayed on well to close the gap to half a length at the line.

Mojo Star set for Newbury on Saturday

Derby runner-up Mojo Star will attempt to open his account in a maiden at Newbury on Saturday, before bidding for further Classic honours in the Cazoo St Leger.

Trainer Richard Hannon wants to give the Sea The Stars colt a less daunting task first in the Academy Insurance British EBF Maiden Stakes ahead of the world’s oldest Classic at Doncaster next month.

Mojo Star has just had the four careers starts so far. He finished second on his first three, culminating in his tremendous effort at Epsom where he out-ran his odds of 50-1 behind Adayar.

Then three weeks later, he was fifth to Hurricane Lane in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh.

“He’s going to go to Newbury on Saturday in a mile-and-a-half maiden,” said Hannon.

“He’s in great form. He’s had a break. He’s run in two Derbys. Hopefully this will be easier and a nice stepping stone to go onto the Leger.”

St Leger could offer Mojo Star another Classic chance

Mojo Star could be given a third chance to bid for Classic glory in the St Leger at Doncaster following his luckless run in Saturday’s Irish Derby.

Narrowly beaten on his first two starts, the Sea The Stars colt justified the bold decision to run in the Derby at Epsom by finishing a clear second behind the impressive Adayar.

That fine effort prompted connections to tackle the Irish equivalent at the Curragh on Saturday, but Mojo Star endured a rough trip on his way to finishing fifth behind Hurricane Lane, who had finished just over three lengths behind him three weeks earlier.

Trainer Richard Hannon said: “He’s come back fine. He’s just been out in the pen since and had a trot yesterday and today.

“He’s none the worse for it and we’ll have a chat to connections about where we go from here.

“We were still pleased with the way he ran the other day – he got up to finish fifth.

“It was just one of those things – he’s a big, long striding horse and if he gets squeezed or inconvenienced at any stage it stops a lot of his momentum, which he needs.”

Connections retain the option of dropping down in grade for a maiden if they wish, but Hannon hopes he will win a Group One prize somewhere along the line.

He added: “He’s in the King George (at Ascot) and the Princess of Wales’s Stakes (at Newmarket) and obviously the St Leger is an option later on in the year.

“He’s fit and he doesn’t need to do any more (work). At some stage we’ll take an easy run and then go back into something big.

“I’d love to have a crack at the Leger, but we’ll see how we go.”

Mojo Star out to conquer the Curragh for Hannon

Richard Hannon’s Mojo Star almost caused a seismic upset at Epsom, and heads to the Curragh this weekend with major claims in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Sent off a 50-1 chance as a two-race maiden on the first Saturday in June, Mojo Star beat all bar Charlie Appleby’s Adayar, himself among the outsiders.

Punters will see nothing like those odds this time, with Mojo Star the general second-favourite behind Aidan O’Brien’s High Definition, and Hannon is expecting another bold display.

“He was always a very laid-back horse. I thought he was a nice horse, but didn’t know he was a very good horse,” said Hannon.

“You could have blown me over with a feather when he was beaten at Newbury earlier this season. I managed to get both him and Snow Lantern beaten on the same day – and I thought ‘this is going to be a long year’.

“In hindsight, he’s a very big horse and he’s grown. It was a bit of a leap of faith putting him in the Derby – but as soon as he pulled up at Newbury, I thought he was a Derby horse if I’d ever seen one.”

Mojo Star duly proved the point – but Adayar shot up the rails, and was not for catching.

“The winner had a beautiful run round, full credit to (winning jockey) Adam Kirby,” said Hannon.

“We got a bit held up on Tattenham Corner – we were travelling very well, and the ground he was making at the line was very pleasing.

“I think this track will suit him a lot more. I was delighted with second – and he was a running-on second.

“It would be a right up there (with the best days of my career). We’re hardly synonymous with Derby horses. I remember one year at school my dad had the favourite and second-favourite – and they were last and second-last!

“I was fifth a few years ago with Humphrey Bogart, and second with this lad.

“I used to go to (the Irish Derby) with a few mates from Ireland as a kid. We took Alriffa one year (1994, fourth), and he wasn’t good enough, but to have one with a chance is great.”

Rossa Ryan is making a name for himself
Rossa Ryan is making a name for himself (John Walton/PA)

Mojo Star was ridden by by David Egan at Epsom – but having recovered from injury, Rossa Ryan will resume his partnership in his role as retained rider for owners Amo Racing.

Hannon is full of praise for the rider, who is making a big name for himself.

“I think Rossa is the real deal,” he said.

“He came along quite quickly and is very ambitious. A lot of apprentices can rattle through their apprenticeships and not get the experience which is needed – but he is very meticulous and detailed and he’s riding really well. I’m glad he’s back to ride him.

“I think the youngsters have a self-belief. Like footballers, they have this self-belief because they are very talented – and if they are riding good horses it all helps.”

Irish Derby on Mojo Star’s agenda

Cazoo Derby runner-up Mojo Star could bid to go one better in this month’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Having been beaten a nose and half a length on his first two career starts, the Sea The Stars colt was thrown in at the deep end by trainer Richard Hannon at Epsom on Saturday, but justified his place in the Derby field by beating all bar the Charlie Appleby-trained Adayar.

Speaking on Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast on Monday, Hannon said: “He’s always been an extremely nice horse – one of the nicest we’ve had here for a long time.

“Yes, it was very brave running a maiden in the Derby – and most people agreed that we shouldn’t have been there, judging by his price (50-1). But he’s proved everybody wrong and he’s a very smart horse, which is nice.

“The winner had the perfect run. I’m not for one minute saying we’d have beaten the winner, but we were just stuck a little bit coming round Tattenham Corner – and we were running on right at the line.”

While connections have the option of dropping back in class for a maiden, Hannon is keen to remain at the highest level, with a trip to the Curragh on June 26 likely to be next on Mojo Star’s agenda.

“He’s absolutely fine – and we’re looking for the next Derby, I suppose,” he added.

“It’s not an easy feat, but I’m not sure we’ve anything to gain by winning a novice or a maiden – and quite often these sort of horses get turned over at long odds-on in those sort of races.

“I think we’ll be looking at something like an Irish Derby or a King George, maybe. If you finish in the first three in the English Derby, you get a free go at the Irish Derby, so that’s got to be worth looking at.

“We’ve never had a horse finish that close in a Derby before. They’re extremely hard to find, these sort of horses, and you’ve got to keep hold of them and keep them racing as long as you can.

“I said to Kia Joorabchian – who owns the horse – before the Derby that next year’s his year. He’s always looked like a horse that, when he’s four, he could be something a little bit different.”

Connections of Mojo Star so proud of huge effort in Derby

Connections of Mojo Star are excited for the future after the maiden ran the race of his life to finish second at odds of 50-1 in the Cazoo Derby at Epsom.

Trained by Richard Hannon for owner Kia Joorabchian, Mojo Star had just two previous runs under his belt ahead of the premier Classic, finishing second in two Newbury maidens in October and last month.

Partnered by David Egan, Mojo Star defied his inexperience to chase home impressive four-and-a-half-length winner Adayar, and Joorabchian, who is involved in the football industry, believes his Sea The Stars colt has some big days ahead of him.

He said: “It’s very, very exciting. It’s the first time I’ve been involved in the Derby and he’s run a great race. It was a fantastic run.

“Richard and Rossa (Ryan, his retained rider, who is currently injured) always loved this horse and always spoke about him very highly.

“Today he proved it, and that’s only his third run. You have to remember he’s quite inexperienced and he’s going to get better from here, and he’s going to be brilliant. Richard has a lot of belief in the horse and thinks he can go further and further, so we are very excited.

“I remember when we bought him Ross Doyle was very keen on him. Since then we’ve been patient with him and it’s proving to be very successful, as finishing second in the Derby is not an easy thing to do. We are a young operation – still a baby operation – and we are up against the big Goliaths.

“I’m loving being in racing.”

Hannon added: “This is a massive day for the owner. There’s more to life than winning the Derby, and it’s just what he needs. He wanted to come here and we always thought he was very good. He’s got loads of horses and that will cheer him up.

“We’ve got enough money now from this to throw at some fancy entries.”

Adayar was one of three runners for Charlie Appleby, who also saddled third-placed Hurricane Lane. He said: “He’s finished third in a Derby and is going to be a contender in some of the other big races in the year.”

Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Mac Swiney was fourth for veteran handler Jim Bolger, and jockey Kevin Manning thought it was a fair effort.

He said: “I had a good run all the way, but he just didn’t pick up in the straight. The ground may have been a bit dead for him, but it was a good run.”

Third Realm, conqueror of Adayar in Lingfield Derby Trial, was a further neck back in fifth for Roger Varian and Andrea Atzeni.

The rider said: “It was a pleasing run. I followed the winner through and he just got a little bit tight for room, but he stayed on quite well and didn’t disgrace himself.

“He’s still a young horse, very lightly raced and it was a nice run.”

Bolshoi Ballet was sent off the 11-8 market leader, but could finish only seventh as the sole representative for Aidan O’Brien this year.

The Ballydoyle handler said: “He just ran a bit lifeless. What the reason was, I’m not sure.

“It doesn’t work every day. That’s the way life is.

“I don’t want to make excuses because I don’t want to take away from the other horses.

“He was in the perfect position. He wants nice ground and maybe that was the reason.”

It was subsequently found at a post-race examination by the veterinary officer that the Galileo colt had been struck into on his right-hind in the early stages of the race.

Tom Marquand, rider of eighth-placed Youth Spirit, thought his mount had found the 12-furlong trip a stretch.

He said: “He probably melted a bit just beforehand – we travelled beautifully throughout and (they) probably just galloped the legs off him over a mile and a half on this ground.

“We’ll probably come back a couple of furlongs and hopefully see him back to his best.”

John Leeper was well fancied for Ed Dunlop and Frankie Dettori, but he trailed home in ninth place on his first try at the distance.

Dettori said: “It was just too far for him at this stage of his life. We’ll go back to a mile and a quarter.”

The Mark Johnston-trained Gear Up set the early gallop and was in front until the two-furlong marker, but eventually beaten a total of 21 lengths.

Jockey Ben Curtis said: “My race was very straightforward. We jumped out, led and everything went perfectly. I thought I’d pick up nicely heading into the straight and then I just lacked maybe for a gear up the home straight.”

Southern Lights finished last of the 11 contenders on what was just his fourth outing for trainer Joseph O’Brien.

Rider Declan McDonogh said: “He was disappointing. He got a lot of bumping around and had a tough trip, but he probably just wasn’t ready for the experience.”

Derby delight for bookies as Adayar scoops Epsom honours

Bookmakers were struggling to contain their delight after Adayar stormed to Cazoo Derby success at Epsom.

Aidan O’Brien’s Bolshoi Ballet was sent off the red-hot 11-8 favourite and although seemingly in the ideal position approaching the business end of the mile-and-a-half showpiece, he could only manage a well-beaten seventh under Ryan Moore.

Others fancied contenders that failed to make an impact were Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Mac Swiney and John Leeper, the mount of Frankie Dettori.

Adding further joy for the layers was 50-1 chance Mojo Star finishing second to the 16-1 winner.

Bookmakers shared Adam Kirby's delight at the Derby result
Bookmakers shared Adam Kirby’s delight at the Derby result (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Coral’s David Stevens said: “The Derby is always the biggest betting race of the Flat season, and going into this year’s renewal, two horses emerged as the most popular with punters, favourite Bolshoi Ballet and Frankie Dettori’s mount, John Leeper.

“But neither could land a blow once the stalls opened, and although Adayar attracted some late support, his victory was still very much in our favour.”

For Ladbrokes, Nicola McGeady said: “Adam Kirby is the toast of Ladbrokes this afternoon after landing the Derby on Adayar. Every horse in this year’s renewal attracted support at some stage, but Adayar was the best result in the book.”

Paddy Power spokesman Paul Binfield added: “The winner didn’t go unsupported each-way at fancy prices, but despite that and Mac Swiney finishing fourth not being ideal with our extra place, it was still a good result for us.”

Looking to the future, Coral make Adayar the 4-1 favourite for the St Leger, while Ladbrokes quote the son of Frankel at 8-1 for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.