Tag Archive for: Nayef Road

Staying stalwart Nayef Road makes class count at HQ

Nayef Road was rewarded for a string of fine efforts in top company when making every yard of the running in the Jockey Club Rose Bowl Stakes at Newmarket.

Without a win since the rearranged Sagaro Stakes at Newcastle soon after racing’s resumption last June, he had nevertheless been up against some top-class opponents.

Having finished behind Stradivarius on no less than five occasions, he relished being back in the much calmer waters of Listed company.

Second in the Gold Cup last year, Mark Johnston, who won that race this June with Subjectivist, will no doubt have taken great pleasure from the display.

Andrea Atzeni, who had ridden Nayef Road the last twice, was keen to make it a real test of stamina and began to wind it up three furlongs from home.

Eileendover was the first of the big guns to crack and it was not long before Max Vega and Roberto Escobar were also in trouble.

With a furlong to run it was just a question of how far and Nayef Road (9-2) crossed the line six lengths clear of Roberto Escobar, with Max Vega just holding off Morando for third.

Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father, said: “This is one of those instances where you genuinely feel happy for the horse.

“He’s had two years of banging his head against the brick wall that is Stradivarius. For all of us, that gets a bit disheartening after a while.

“When we saw this race we thought it might be a nice opportunity to try to get his head back in front in slightly calmer waters and prove that he’s still got the ability that has seen him finish second in two Group Ones.

Nayef Road makes the best of his way home at Newmarket
Nayef Road makes the best of his way home at Newmarket (Tim Goode/PA)

“He’s entered at Ascot (on Champions Day). We didn’t go to York because we thought when Stradivarius was there he wouldn’t go to Doncaster as well, but fair play to them – he’s kept turning up and danced every dance this year.

“It was nice to finally find a race where he wasn’t here! We’ll speak to the owner regarding plans for the autumn and winter and next year.”

He went on: “Although he finished second in a Gold Cup on soft ground, I think he’s better on top of the ground, so it will depend a bit on conditions at Ascot.

“You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place as if the ground is quick Stradivarius is the impenetrable wall and if it’s soft you get Trueshan in his best conditions.

“Nayef Road is a horse who can be competitive in those big races, and when he drops down to this sort of level he’s just a bit better than the rest of these.”

Johnston launches formidable challenge in quest for second Yorkshire Cup

Sir Ron Priestley and Nayef Road give Mark Johnston a formidable hand in his bid for a second victory in the Matchbook Yorkshire Cup.

It is 19 years since Zindabad provided the Middleham trainer with his first and only previous success in the prestigious staying contest, but he appears to have every chance of doubling his tally at York on Friday.

Sir Ron Priestley is the clear favourite for the Group Two contest, having returned from more than a year and a half on the sidelines with victories in the Further Flight Stakes at Nottingham and the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket.

Johnston said: “We are very strong in the staying department – and we did think that Sir Ron Priestley, Nayef Road and Subjectivist might all meet in the Gold Cup. But that’s now looking very unlikely, because Sir Ron Priestley probably won’t go that far.

“It’s great to see him demonstrating so much speed, and his next runs after the Yorkshire Cup are quite likely to be at a mile and a half, with the Hardwicke Stakes a probable next target.

“It’s been very satisfying getting him back in such good form after missing last year – he’s given the impression he’s in the form of his life and he’s certainly rated higher than ever.”

Nayef Road is a serious threat to his stable companion in the the first race in the Long Distance category of this year’s Qipco British Champions Series, after being placed behind champion stayer Stradivarius in three of his last four starts.

Nayef Road winning last year's Sagaro Stakes at Newcastle
Nayef Road winning last year’s Sagaro Stakes at Newcastle (Tony Knapton/PA)

Earlier in the week, Johnston was expecting to save Nayef Road for another day following his third-placed finish in Ascot’s Sagaro Stakes, but has decided to let him take his chance after the Yorkshire Cup cut up to just five runners.

He added: “Nayef Road is in good enough form too and ran really well in the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot, and it’s just a case of finding the best spots for all three horses.

“Like Dee Ex Bee before him, Nayef Road would have a lot more to show for his efforts if it wasn’t for Stradivarius, because they both finished second to him in the Gold Cup and the Goodwood Cup.”

The biggest danger to the Johnston pair is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Santiago.

Last year’s Irish Derby hero was third behind Stradivarius and Nayef Road in the Goodwood Cup, and can be expected to improve from his recent comeback fourth in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan.

O’Brien said: “Hopefully he’ll have come forward from his first run at Navan.

“He was keen enough there, with it being his first run, and we know the trip is no problem.

“He won’t mind the ground – it was soft when he won at Royal Ascot last year.”

The small but select field is completed by Spanish Mission and the long-absent Wells Farhh Go.

Wells Farhh Go winning the 2018 Bahrain Trophy
Wells Farhh Go winning the 2018 Bahrain Trophy (Simon Cooper/PA)

Andrew Balding’s Spanish Mission returns to British action after finishing second in Saudi Arabia and fifth in Dubai on his last couple of starts, while Tim Easterby’s Wells Farhh Go makes his first competitive appearance since October 2019.

“He’s in good form and working well,” Easterby said of his runner.

“I said I’d bring him out when lockdown finished. He’s been back in training for a long time now.

“He picked up a little injury when he ran in the Ebor (in 2019) and, of course, he missed last year. We were going to run him at the back-end of last season, but we thought we’d wait.”

Johnston pair headline nine in Yorkshire Cup reckoning

Stable companions Sir Ron Priestley and Nayef Road are among nine confirmations for the Matchbook Yorkshire Cup on Friday.

Sir Ron Priestley has made a fantastic return from a year and a half off the track this season, with a successful comeback in the Further Flight Stakes at Nottingham followed by an impressive front-running victory in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket.

Trainer Mark Johnston has given the five-year-old the option of turning out just under a fortnight later for the Group Two feature on the third and final day of York’s Dante Festival.

The Middleham maestro could also saddle the ultra-consistent Nayef Road, who made a promising start to his campaign when a close-up third behind star stayer Stradivarius in the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot last month.

Aidan O’Brien also has a couple of contenders in Amhran Na Bhfiann and Santiago.

Last season’s Derby third Amhran Na Bhfiann recently made a winning return to action at Dundalk, while Irish Derby winner Santiago can be expected to improve from his comeback fourth in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan.

Andrew Balding has both Morando and Spanish Mission, with Roger Varian’s Believe In Love the only filly in the mix.

The Ed Dunlop-trained Red Verdon and Wells Farhh Go from Tim Easterby’s yard complete the potential field.

German trip may beckon for Elarqam

Elarqam could be given the chance to claim an elusive first Group One success in next month’s Grosser Preis Von Bayern in Munich.

In what has been a largely frustrating campaign for the Mark Johnston-trained son of Frankel, connections are now considering supplementing him for the mile-and-a-half prize on November 8.

After failing to score in his first three starts this season, Elarqam took full advantage of a return to Group Three company last time out to open his account for the year in the Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup at Newbury.

Johnston’s son and assistant Charlie said: “It’s frustrating, because in a normal year we would have gone to North America for either the Canadian International or Northern Dancer.

“A Group One is what is missing from his CV, and we thought those are the ideal places to have gone to try and get it.  As it is, he may now run in the Grosser Preis von Bayern – which is two weeks on Sunday.

“He is still in full work but he would need to be supplemented, so we would need to be 100 per cent happy with him for the next 10 days and for (owner) Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and his team to be happy.”

Nayef Road will be campaigned to try to go one better in next year’s Ascot Gold Cup, after a decision was made to draw stumps for this season with the Galileo colt.

Johnston added: “Nayef Road is finished for the year now. It has been frustrating in some ways that he has picked up the baton from Dee Ex Bee and banged his head against the Stradivarius wall.

“In hindsight, maybe we should have saved him for Ascot on Champions Day rather than run in the Lonsdale, but at the time we thought that looked a good opportunity.

“After York we thought he had done enough for the year, so we will look to have him back next year to have a go at the Ascot Gold Cup again.”

Sir Ron Priestley will be given the chance to try and become a potential contender for the Ascot Gold Cup (Martin Rickett/PA Images)
Sir Ron Priestley will be given the chance to try and become a potential contender for the Ascot Gold Cup (Martin Rickett/PA Images)

Next season’s Ascot Gold Cup could be a target too for 2019 St Leger runner-up Sir Ron Priestley, who has missed the current campaign through injury after a deal to race in Australia fell through earlier this year.

Johnston added: “There were offers for him to go to Australia earlier this year. He passed the vets to go in February/March time, and that deal fell through.

“He has had two separate setbacks this year, one in the spring and then a completely unrelated one about a month ago – which has written this year off.

“The plan will be to bring him back as a five-year-old and try to make him into a Gold Cup horse.”