Double delivers for Wall in Pontefract feature

Few jockeys are riding with as much confidence as Jack Mitchell at present and he capped a profitable few days by winning the EBF Stallions Highfield Farm Flying Fillies’ Stakes at Pontefract on Double Or Bubble.

Having partnered Chris Wall’s improving filly to win at Newmarket’s Craven meeting in April, Mitchell was also on board when she was narrowly beaten in a Listed race at Chelmsford.

In taking her career record to four wins from just seven starts, she clearly has a bright future and those who backed her into 5-4 favouritism never really had a moment of worry.

Double Or Bubble was in front soon after the turn into the straight and she held 50-1 chance Shepherds Way at bay by two lengths.

“I’m obviously delighted with that. She had to miss a couple of suitable opportunities earlier in the year when the ground came up too soft for her,” said Wall.

“It’s great to get a Listed win out of her, she did it very nicely and Jack has given her a well-judged ride. We spoke about being positive today as there were quite a lot in this race you didn’t want to get trapped behind.

“She’s toughed it out well and I’m very pleased for her owner (Salah Fustok) who is also a breeder and a long-standing supporter of ours, so black type is very important.

“The faster the ground, the better for her. After she won well at the Craven meeting we wanted to run in the Group Three at Lingfield but the ground turned very soft so we didn’t run.

“A mile was too far at Ascot for her but she ran very well behind a tough filly of John Quinn’s (Highfield Princess) at Chelmsford in a Listed race. Back on the grass, on a sound surface, she’s shown what she can do.

“We’ll have to look for a Group Three but I’m not sure what our options are for now. There probably aren’t too many for fillies so we may have to take on the boys, I’ll discuss it with the owner but she does need a decent surface.”

Mitchell is averaging a winner every four rides currently and was partnering his 83rd winner of 2021, well on course to beat his best total of 103 he achieved last year.

“We always thought a stiff six furlongs would suit her as she has loads of natural speed – if anything I took it up too soon,” said Mitchell.

“It’s nice to see her get that Listed win and she hit the line well enough, if something had come to me, I think she might have gone again.

“She’s versatile, she stays further. It’s lovely, good ground today but she usually likes to bounce off it. She’s a class act in her own right.

“Touch wood I’m having a good spell at present.”

Spice too hot for Pontefract rivals

Plenty of water has passed under the bridge since Dash Of Spice triumphed at Royal Ascot in 2018 but he finally returned to winning ways in the Mary Clark “Favourite Day Of The Year” Handicap at Pontefract.

Trained by David Elsworth in those days, he only raced once more that season when the beaten 3-1 favourite in the John Smith’s Cup won by Euchen Glen.

He picked up an injury there which kept him off the track for two full seasons and when he returned to action last year he looked a light of his former self.

Picked up for a relatively paltry £29,000 at the sales by the Ontoawinner syndicate and partners and sent to Adrian Keatley, he has had four runs for new connections, with a second at Pontefract in June his best effort.

Off a mark of 87, down from a high of 104, he was able to dictate under Tom Marquand and won by three lengths from Possible Man.

“It worked out perfect for him today. They left him alone in front and he’s got a lot of class this horse,” said Keatley.

“Hopefully there’s another one or two similar races like that in him this season and then we’ll put him away and hope for another good season next year with him.

“Tom has been lucky for us. It’s nothing against the other jocks, you can only ride what’s under you, but Tom used to ride him for his previous trainer Mr Elsworth and was very complimentary about him after.

“I’ve nothing immediately in mind for him, there might be something at the big Ayr meeting. I’ll speak with the owners but I wouldn’t be keen on over-racing him this season.”

David O’Meara’s Forced Entry had shown precious little in two starts to date but looked a different proposition in the Trevor Woods Memorial British EBF Novice Stakes.

Well beaten at both Carlisle and Lingfield, he looked much more professional on this occasion and was a cosy winner.

Forced Entry (grey) sees off all challengers
Forced Entry (grey) sees off all challengers (Tim Goode/PA)

Jason Watson, stepping in for Danny Tudhope who was riding in America on Saturday evening, always had the 7-1 chance in the box seat just on the outside of Where’s Diana and he quickened up to win by half a length.

Odds-on favourite Bloomington Bride got going too late and was just behind in third.

“I think he enjoyed the track, it’s quite a quirky place going up and down and I think he learned a lot in his last race at Lingfield,” said Watson.

“He’s got ability, I think he’s just been a bit too green to show it and he stayed on gamely today. But to be fair it probably was a bit of a surprise – a welcome one.”

Kevin Stott has enjoyed a good weekend as fresh from a double at Ripon, which included the Great St Wilfrid on Justanotherbottle, he teamed up with Sir Michael Stoute’s Duty Of Care for another winner.

A half-brother to Breeders’ Cup winner Expert Eye, he disappointed at Chelmsford last time out and got back on the winning trail.

The 2-1 joint-favourite did not have much in hand over fellow Newmarket raider, William Haggas’ Ready To Venture, but came out on top in a photo.

Stott said: “He’s a lovely, big horse and he’s done that really well. I’d say he wants further. He’ll get a mile and a half no problem.”

The Fergal O’Brien-trained Teqany (7-2) was second in the Elite Hurdle to Sceau Royal in November but since then has run exclusively on the Flat.

A winner at Chepstow last time out, his first success on the Flat, he made all once more for Dougie Costello.

O’Brien’s partner and assistant Sally Randell said: “He’s such a legend, we’ve had him three years and he’s never been out of the first four.

“He just loves winning, so while it was hard work last time, I did say to Dougie that he might have an easier ride this time because since Chepstow he’s been wild!

“His hurdle mark is so high that we thought going on the Flat was the obvious thing. Hopefully the handicapper doesn’t go mad.”

O’Meara doubled up when Alpha Cru (7-5 favourite) made most of the running under David Nolan in the Happy Retirement Mick Henshaw Novice Stakes.

“She’s done it nicely. We only got her a couple of months ago and she won a novice here and clearly improved for that. We’ll see what the handicapper does,” said O’Meara.

Quinn ‘toying’ with Pontefract outing for Keep Busy

Keep Busy could have her first six-furlong outing in over a year in Sunday’s EBF Stallions Highfield Farm Flying Fillies’ Stakes at Pontefract.

The John Quinn-trained four-year-old has run some good races in top company this season, as well as winning a Listed race at Ayr.

She finished fifth in the King George Stakes at Goodwood last time out when Quinn felt she was a little outpaced, so he is looking at options over further.

“We’re toying with the idea of running on Sunday,” said Quinn.

“She’s running really well at the moment but she’s just getting run off her legs over five furlongs on these quick tracks.

“She won over six twice as a two-year-old and won a Listed race over five and a half. I think she’s versatile but on these quick tracks they just get her at it, so we are thinking about Sunday.

“The winner at Goodwood is probably very, very good but I think they took each other on up front and then got into a battle. We decided to hold Liberty Beach up for a chance but then she got squeezed and a furlong out I thought Keep Busy was really going to do something, but then the pendulum swung right round to the stands side who looked massively favoured in the last 100 yards.

“So while the French filly (Suesa) is possibly very, very good, she could have been flattered as it was a funny race.

“We were delighted with Keep Busy, though, she ran well, but we’re thinking of stepping her up in trip.”

Brunch bags Pomfret prize at Pontefract

Brunch finished with a flourish to claim top honours in the Sky Bet Go-Racing-In-Yorkshire Summer Festival Pomfret Stakes at Pontefract.

A field of six runners went to post for the Listed feature in West Yorkshire, with Sir Michael Stoute’s Regal Reality – not beaten far when third behind superstar mare Enable in the Coral-Eclipse two years ago – the even-money favourite to make the most of a drop in class.

The Michael Dods-trained Brunch was next in the betting at 7-4, having filled the runner-up spot in the Lincoln earlier in the campaign and finished seventh on his most recent appearance in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot.

With the first two in the market held up for late runs, the front-running Azano still had a couple of lengths in hand rounding the home turn before being strongly challenged by stablemate Rhoscolyn.

Just when it looked like David O’Meara might saddle a one-two, William Buick – whose treble at Ascot on Saturday including winning the King George on Adayar – conjured a late rattle out of Brunch and he was good value for the winning margin of three-quarters of a length.

Regal Reality briefly threatened alongside Brunch, but his effort petered out and he passed the post in fourth.

Dods said of the winner: “He’s been unlucky this season. He was second in the Lincoln, second at York and then he was boxed in at Royal Ascot in the Hunt Cup, otherwise he might have finished second or third.

“He came here today and to be fair to Pontefract, they’ve done a tremendous job with the ground. It’s fast, summer ground, but it’s safe and he let himself down on it.

“He got a terrific ride from William Buick and we couldn’t be more delighted for the owners and everyone in the yard.”

The scene at Pontefract on Sunday
The scene at Pontefract on Sunday (Tim Goode/PA)

Brunch could be set for another step up in class on his next start, with the Group Three Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury on August 12 viewed as a suitable target.

“There’s a possibility we might send him to Salisbury. We have pencilled in that race, anyway,” Dods added.

“He’s a tremendous horse who tries hard. It’s great to win a Listed race with him and I think he’s quite capable of going on from this and winning again.”

Lights On waltzes to Pipalong Stakes success

Ryan Moore headed for the rail on Lights On and waltzed clear to win the Weatherbys Bloodstock Pro Pipalong Stakes at Pontefract in splendid fashion.

Sir Michael Stoute’s filly had been in good form this season, winning at Nottingham and Ascot, and had excuses when eighth in the Kensington Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot last time out.

Drawn wide on that occasion, Moore could never get into the position he wanted – but in this much smaller field he was able to manoeuvre his mount into exactly where he needed to be.

However, his task was made much easier than it might have been when four of the six runners shunned the near side rail, which is heavily favoured when the ground rides soft.

Sent off a 3-1 chance, the Siyouni filly had the race almost won by the turn into the straight when the jockeys who had decided to take the normal racing route, including David Egan on the favourite Waliyak, realised they were way of the pace.

As the stagger evened itself out, Lights On was a long way clear and she came home in splendid isolation, beating Agincourt, the only other runner to take the same route as the winner, by 10 lengths.

It was a fifth win in the race for Cheveley Park Stud, after Chorist (2004), Red Bloom (2005), Exhort (2019) and Romola last year.

Lights On ridden by jockey Ryan Moore stuck tight to the rail
Lights On ridden by jockey Ryan Moore stuck tight to the rail (Nigel French/PA)

Managing director Chris Richardson said: “Ascot just didn’t work out, she was drawn too wide and Ryan looked after her.

“Ryan gave her a lovely ride today and she was really impressive. She’s continuing to improve and that’s three wins on the trot in this race.

“I think we’ll look at the Valiant Stakes at Ascot next. She goes well at Ascot and a Group Three is the next logical step.

“I think she would have won on any ground today, but she clearly handles soft with the Pivotal and Siyouni coming through.”

Gis A Sub enters Gimcrack frame following Spindrifter success

The Gimcrack Stakes at York emerged as a likely target for Gis A Sub after he got off the mark with a narrow success at Pontefract.

Beaten a nose into second place by the Richard Hannon-trained Bosh on his racecourse debut at York a couple of weeks ago, Kevin Ryan’s juvenile was the 5-4 favourite to go one better in the £20,000 British Stallion Studs EBF Spindrifter Conditions Stakes.

Sent straight to the lead by Tom Eaves, Gis A Sub showed signs of inexperience in the closing stages, but had enough in reserve to repel the challenge of Hellomydarlin by half a length.

“He’s a very progressive horse and a horse we think an awful lot of,” said Ryan.

“Obviously he idled a bit in front there today. He’ll improve and learn from that race again, but we’re very pleased with his performance.

“He’d done everything right before his first run – we don’t take them to York if we don’t think they’re good enough – and we’ll look towards going back there now for the Gimcrack.

“I don’t think we’ll run him again between now and then, but we’ll just see how he comes out of the race – if we think he needs to run again, he will.”

Al Simmo (right) leads the way at Pontefract
Al Simmo (right) leads the way at Pontefract (Mike Egerton/PA)

Al Simmo (2-1 favourite) made it three from three for the season for trainer Steph Hollinshead in the Napoleons Casino Bradford Fillies’ Handicap.

Successful at Doncaster and Nottingham on her two previous outings, the daughter of Al Kazeem completed her hat-trick in fine style under Clifford Lee – passing the post with three-quarters of a length in hand over Aramis Grey.

Hollinshead said: “I’m really chuffed with her – she just keeps improving.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t think this has come from nowhere. She was third second time out at Redcar and on her third run at Doncaster she ran against the colts in a race won by Starman. She’s also much stronger this year, so hopefully there’s a bit more to come.

“I know the owner is looking at the Ebor meeting at York in August. She’ll probably run again before then, but I know that’s where the owner would really love to go.”

Katara bounces back to form with Pontefract Listed verdict

Katara claimed a second Listed race when taking the Sky Bet Pontefract Castle Fillies’ Stakes at the Yorkshire track for Ryan Moore and Sir Michael Stoute.

The four-year-old raced at the rear of the field and struck late to pass race leader and runner-up Golden Pass just as the two horses approached the post.

The winning distance was recorded as a head, with third-placed Urban Artist (15-8 favourite) a further two and a half lengths back.

The victory follows a previous Listed win in August last year, when the bay took the Chalice Stakes at Newmarket.

“It wasn’t a dream run, I ended up where I didn’t want to be,” Moore told Racing TV.

“She was in good form last year, she was an impressive winner at Newmarket.

“She’s in good shape, I’m glad she could come back and win today, hopefully she can build on that.

“(She’s a) nice filly, good pedigree, you’d like to think there’d be more to come.”

Karl Burke enjoyed back-to-back successes as horses from his yard took both divisions of the Northern Commercials Iveco “X” Way Tipper EBF Fillies’ Restricted Novice.

Almohandesah was victorious in the first section of the contest when starting as 9-4 favourite under Tom Marquand, with Favourite Child then the winner of the second division at 6-1 for Clifford Lee.

The Flying Ginger took the Volkswagen Van Centre Ltd Fillies’ Handicap as the 6-4 favourite, prevailing by a length and a half ahead of Majestic Tejaan after making all of the running.

“She tried hard, she stays well,” Tudhope said.

“With the other horses in the race, there were stamina doubts for a few of them so I wanted to make sure it was a good test of stamina, she’ll probably suit 10 furlongs.

“It’s very hard to peg them back here so if you can take control, it’s hard to make up ground.

“She’s run into form today, but you can flatter yourself here. I don’t think she’s won with a lot in hand but she’s a grand filly, she’s going places and there’s a lot to look forward to.”

Let Me Be tallied a fifth win this season when triumphing in the Sky Bet Pontefract Cup Handicap for Keith Dalgleish and Callum Rodriguez.

The five-year-old crossed the line a length ahead of his nearest rival after starting as 11-4 favourite.

“He’s a very economical horse, he only does as much as he needs to all the way round and then you see when he hits the front he only does enough as well,” said Rodriguez.

“He just keeps progressing and he’s obviously going the right way.

“We were keen to give him a go over this two-mile-two (furlong trip), we thought he would be tailor-made for these sort of races and he’s proved he is.

“He’s a brilliant horse and if he keeps on progressing, there should be more races to be won with him.”

Eileendover heading for Pontefract next

Eileendover is likely to bid for Listed honours at Pontefract following a solid first effort on the Flat at Haydock.

Trainer Pam Sly has pencilled in the Sky Bet Pontefract Castle Fillies’ Stakes at the West Yorkshire track on June 20 for her four-year-old.

Eileendover, who won her first three bumpers before finishing fourth in a Grade Two event at Aintree’s Grand National meeting in April, lost little in defeat when runner-up to the Ralph Beckett-trained Yesyes, who was receiving lumps of weight.

“She’s good. I was very pleased with her. She was giving 17lb to the winner, so I thought she ran extremely well. The winner Yesyes, Ralph Beckett’s horse, is very well-bred.

“We’re probably going to go for a Listed race for fillies at Pontefract over a mile and a half on the 20th of June.

“That’s what I’ve got in mind.”

Pythagoras brings up Fahey century

Pythagoras gave trainer Richard Fahey his 100th domestic winner of the campaign in the Silver Tankard Stakes at Pontefract.

Owned by Sir Robert Ogden, the two-year-old colt is seen by Fahey as a “staying type” for next season, after he gamely stuck to his task to claim these Listed spoils.

Namoos set the pace – but Paul Hanagan, riding Pythagoras for the first time in public, had the 5-1 shot close before making his move over a furlong out.

Mystery Angel and The Rosstafarian pressed hard in the closing stages, but the son of Zoffany would not be denied and won by a neck and a short head.

“We’re delighted for Sir Robert – it was a tough performance,” said Fahey.

“He’ll stay well. It’s desperate conditions there, but he coped with it well enough.

“I’ll get him home first, before making any decisions. I’ll speak to Sir Robert and see what he thinks.

“He’s going to be a staying type – a mile and a quarter mile and mile and a half.

“There is talk about maybe taking him to France in November, but we’ll see how he is.”

Fahey and Hanagan doubled up when Society Queen (10-1) led well inside the final furlong to take division one of the Racing TV On Sky Channel 426 Handicap by a length and a quarter from Wots The Wifi Code.

Stag Horn ran his rivals ragged in the hands of Hollie Doyle to complete a hat-trick with a strong staying display in the Phil Bull Trophy Conditions Stakes.

On her only ride of the day and her first since a famous Group One success and big-race double on British Champions’ Day at Ascot on Saturday, the record-breaking rider made the two-and-a-quarter-mile race a real test from the outset.

Stag Horn comes home well clear under Hollie Doyle to win the Phil Bull Trophy at Pontefract
Stag Horn comes home well clear under Hollie Doyle to win the Phil Bull Trophy at Pontefract (Tim Goode/PA)

Only The Grand Visir was able to live with Archie Watson’s three-year-old – but even he was a spent force in the home straight, with Stag Horn (evens favourite) romping home by nine lengths. There were 32 more lengths back to Fun Mac in third place of the six runners.

“He’s progressive and was impressive at Goodwood last time,” Doyle told Racing TV.

“Stepping up to two miles two today on heavy ground, he seems to thrive in testing conditions – and the further he went the better.

“He’s got quite a high cruising speed for a horse that stays so far, and for those conditions that is what you need.

“At the beginning of his campaign, he used to be quite windy and soft – but he’s making a man of himself now.

“He’s going to be a competitive stayer next year. I don’t know if there are any more options for him for the rest of they year, but I’m sure there’s a bit more developing for him to do.”

Ben Curtis took his tally for the calendar year to 150 with a narrow victory on Rod Millman’s Coul Kat in the Join Racing TV Now Nursery Handicap.

The evens favourite was all out to hold the persistent challenge of The Bravest by a short head.

Curtis completed a double when steering Cockalorum to success in an even tighter finish in the Pontefract Thanks The NHS Handicap.

Roger Fell’s charge just got up to score by a nose from Viceregent, who hung badly left across the track to the far rail, taking the winner with him.