Posts

Angel Bleu and Kinross make it an opening day to remember for Ralph Beckett at Goodwood

Angel Bleu and Kinross provided trainer Ralph Beckett and owner Marc Chan with a Group Two double on the opening afternoon of the Qatar Goodwood Festival.

Turning out just three days after filling the runner-up spot in the Listed Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot, Angel Bleu was sent off at 100-30 for the Unibet Vintage Stakes under Frankie Dettori.

The Dark Angel colt sweated up on the way to post and raced enthusiastically for much of the race, but still managed to quicken up smartly in the rain-softened ground once popped the question by his rider.

He did hang quite badly right when delivering his challenge, interfering with The Acropolis in the process.

But while the previously-unbeaten Coventry Stakes winner Berkshire Shadow (13-8 favourite) was doing his best work at the finish, Angel Bleu had enough in reserve to hold him at bay by three-quarters of a length.

Beckett said: “Frankie got off him on Saturday and said ‘he’s been busy, give him a break’, so I thought we should leave him alone.

“(But) I fed him on Sunday and I looked at him sideways and thought ‘you don’t look like you’ve had a hard race to me at all’.

“I jogged him up, and he bounced up the yard – Marc Chan’s racing manager called me up and said ‘why don’t we geld him now and send him to Hong Kong in the autumn, he can go there and have a good time?’ – he was a little surprised when it rained and we decided to declare him!

“If we hadn’t declared and the field had fallen apart like this, I’d have been really, really cross with myself. With the rain last night, I could hardly believe my luck.

“He likes a bit of juice and he likes soft ground – we’ll think about the Dewhurst now I should think.”

Dettori added: “Horses make a fool of you, but a combination of running round the turn, soft ground and being good on the way to post made a difference. He loved it.”

Of the Andrew Balding-trained Berkshire Shadow, rider Oisin Murphy said: “Off a slow pace he relaxed very well, but took a while to get going. When I gave him a kick he stayed on well and hit the line hard.

“I think he needs another furlong, because he saw out the trip really well.”

Ralph Beckett at Goodwood
Ralph Beckett at Goodwood (John Walton/PA)

Little more than half an hour later Angel Bleu’s stablemate Kinross carried the Chan colours to victory in the Unibet Lennox Stakes.

Off the track since winning the John Of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock at the end of May, the 6-1 shot powered through in the final furlong under Rossa Ryan to deny 2-1 favourite Creative Force by a neck – with Happy Power and last year’s winner Space Blues close up in third and fourth.

Beckett said of his second big-race winner: “He shot through the gap two (furlongs) down and he sort of floated home in the last furlong.

“I was really keen that Rossa rode him absolutely cold today, and it’s panned out perfectly – as it can do sometimes.

“I was a bit worried he was getting into a row with Danny Tudhope at the top of the hill – I thought we were going to be shoved down on the fence, but it opened up and all was well.”

Kinross has realised his previous potential this season, with two Group-race wins in as many starts since being gelded in March.

Beckett added: “He’s not been a difficult for to train – he’s just been a difficult horse to read.

“I felt last year that I was always trying to get him ready, but I didn’t bother getting him ready for Kempton (last November) – I just got him there in reasonable shape when he won the Hyde Stakes.

“Taking him to Dubai (then) seemed like a good decision at the time – but that didn’t work.

“He was enjoying himself too much, enjoying his holidays – so gelding him was a good idea and sticking to this ground was a good idea.

“The form book doesn’t lie – his mother was very good on soft ground, and we’ll be sticking to good or soft from now on.

“He’ll definitely go up in grade. He’s in the (Prix) Maurice de Gheest, and the (Prix de la) Foret is a race I’ve always thought would suit him – so I think we’ll work back from that.”

Ryan voiced his gratitude to Beckett for the opportunity.

“I was pretty shocked to see myself booked to ride,” he said.

“But Ralph has shown in recent years that he’s never afraid to give lads a chance. That’s what he’s done, and I’m very thankful.”

Charlie Appleby was not too downcast over Creative Force and Space Blues.

The Godolphin trainer said: “Both horses ran well, but unfortunately as far as William’s (Buick) horse (Space Blues) is concerned it was not the strongest-run race and he said they were always picking up at a crucial point. I think we will look to the Hungerford in a couple of weeks.

“It was another solid run from Creative Force. He was going forward right to the line having travelled very well. We might contemplate bringing him back (in trip) for the Maurice de Gheest, but I’m just as keen to give him a break before heading to Haydock (for the Sprint Cup).”

Angel heaven sent for Dettori and Beckett

A quick reappearance proved no barrier to success for Angel Bleu, as Frankie Dettori steered Ralph Beckett’s colt to victory in the Unibet Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.

Runner-up in the Listed Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot on Saturday, the Dark Angel youngster was sent off at 100-30 to go one better in this Group Three contest just three days later.

Having sweated up on the way to post, Angel Bleu raced enthusiastically for much of the race, but quickened up smartly in the rain-softened ground once popped the question by Dettori.

He did hang quite badly rightly when delivering his challenge, interfering with The Acropolis in the process.

The previously-unbeaten Coventry Stakes winner Berkshire Shadow (13-8 favourite) was doing his best work at the finish, but Angel Bleu had enough in reserve to hold him at bay by three-quarters of a length.

Beckett said: “Frankie got off him on Saturday and said ‘he’s been busy, give him a break’, so I thought we should leave him alone.

“(But) I fed him on Sunday and I looked at him sideways and thought ‘you don’t look like you’ve had a hard race to me at all’.

“I jogged him up and he bounced up the yard, (owner) Marc Chan’s racing manager called me up and said ‘why don’t we geld him now and send him to Hong Kong in the autumn, he can go there and have a good time’ – he was a little surprised when it rained and we decided to declare him!

“If we hadn’t declared and the field had fallen apart like this, I’d have been really, really cross with myself. With the rain last night I could hardly believe my luck.”

“He like a bit of juice and he likes soft ground, we’ll think about the Dewhurst now I should think.”

Of the Andrew Balding-trained Berkshire Shadow, rider Oisin Murphy said: “Off a slow pace he relaxed very well, but took a while to get going. When I gave him a kick he stayed on well and hit the line hard.

“I think he needs another furlong, as he saw out the trip really well.”

Kinross aiming to set the standard in Criterion contest

Ralph Beckett reports Kinross in “great shape” as he bids to defy a 3lb penalty in the Close Brothers Criterion Stakes at Newmarket.

The one-time Classic contender returned to his best with victory in the Group Three John Of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock four weeks ago, and Beckett is confident the four-year-old is ready to excel again at the same level on Saturday .

“Kinross is in great shape. It is a race that he has got a penalty in, but it is a race that really suits him,” said the Hampshire trainer.

“I’ve been very happy with him since Haydock, where he looked back to his old self.

“He did it really well the last day, and we will be sticking to seven furlongs with him. I think gelding him has been a significant help. Hopefully this is a stepping stone to bigger and better things.”

The William Haggas-trained With Thanks finished only seventh behind Kinross at Haydock, but jockey Tom Marquand believes the Camacho filly can get closer this time if forecast rain arrives.

“She ran a little bit free at Haydock – but that was her first run back, and she was entitled to need it,” said Marquand.

Richard Hannon believes a return to the July Course will help Motakhayyel’s cause.

The five-year-old is seeking a first success since landing last year’s Bunbury Cup over the same course and distance.

“He likes the track here and he is working well and hopefully he will run a big race,” said the Marlborough trainer.

“When he is in form he is hard to beat – I hope he is, and he seems like it at home.

Hannon expects going back up in trip to benefit Mums Tipple, following his lacklustre effort over six furlongs in the Cathedral Stakes at Salisbury.

He said: “Mums Tipple was disappointing last time, but he hung a good bit that day and he never got in the race.

“This is a nice race for him – and stepping up in trip again should help him, because he looked like he was a bit flat out in the Cathedral Stakes.”

Jockey Robert Havlin is looking forward to being reunited with Logician, in the Close Brothers Fred Archer Stakes.

John and Thady Gosden’s grey has had his issues since winning the St Leger in 2019, and has been restricted to just three runs since then.

“It is great to get back on him, and he is a nice horse to pick up,” said Havlin.

“I rode him on Wednesday, and he felt in great shape and has come on since the last day.

“He is a big horse that is hard to get fit, and the whole way through it has always taken a run to get him right. He seems to have come out of his race the right way.”

Logician (left) will try to return to form in the Fred Archer Stakes
Logician (left) will try to return to form in the Fred Archer Stakes (Clint Hughes/PA)

Beckett believes the 12-furlong contest represents a good starting point for Max Vega’s campaign.

“We’ve had to be patient this year, because he hasn’t quite been himself,” he said.

“Things of late have been different, and he has definitely picked up.”

George Boughey is happy to give Cachet the chance of a Listed success in the Maureen Brittain Memorial Empress Stakes, following her run at Royal Ascot.

The Aclaim filly finished a respectable fifth to Sandrine in the Albany Stakes, despite being unsuited by the rain-softened ground last week.

“It is a quick turnaround from Royal Ascot, but she has come out of that race in great shape,” said Boughey.

“I walked the track on Thursday, and it is far quicker than at Ascot – where it was an extreme of ground. It probably found her out and it was only her ability that got her home.”

Simon and Ed Crisford’s Najat tries her hand in Listed company, after making a fine impression when taking a novice event at Thirsk.

Ed Crisford, who holds a joint licence with his father Simon, said: “She won very well first time up at Thirsk and she is deserving of her place in a stakes race, and this looked a suitable option.”

Meu Amor sets up Goodwood outing with Eternal strike at Carlisle

Meu Amor stamped her class on the British Stallion Studs EBF Eternal Stakes at Carlisle.

Ralph Beckett’s filly brought a high level of form to the Listed contest, having finished a close-up fourth in the Group Three Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes at Lingfield and third in the Surrey Stakes at Epsom on her last couple of starts.

The daughter of Siyouni was sent off at 3-1 for her latest assignment under Richard Kingscote and travelled strongly throughout the seven-furlong contest before pulling two and three-quarter lengths clear of Ken Condon’s Irish raider Thunder Beauty.

The previously unbeaten 15-8 favourite Cloudy Dawn was just over two lengths further back in third.

“It was straightforward,” said Kingscote.

“She had enough form to say she’d be in the mix. Of course the unknown was how much more Mr (William) Haggas’ filly (Cloudy Dawn) had under the bonnet, but my filly did everything lovely.

“Back on some better ground, she showed a good attitude and it was very smooth.”

Beckett is planning to step Meu Amor back up in class at Glorious Goodwood.

He said: “We were a little bit underwhelmed by the effort at Epsom and I think her performance today showed we were right to be.

“She enjoyed the track and the race set up well for her.

“I think we’ll look towards Goodwood and the Oak Tree Stakes in five weeks’ time.”

Kinross makes class count in John Of Gaunt

Frankie Dettori treated the Haydock crowd to his trademark flying dismount after steering Kinross to an impressive victory in the Betway John Of Gaunt Stakes.

Ralph Beckett’s four-year-old was considered a potential top-notcher in his younger days – competing at the highest level in the Vertem Futurity Trophy, the 2000 Guineas and the Prix Jean Prat.

Having disappointed on a couple of occasions at the Dubai Carnival at Meydan earlier in the year, Dettori admitted he was more hopeful than confident about his chances in the Group Three feature on Merseyside.

However, the 5-1 co-favourite of three bounced back to his best – powering clear of his rivals and passing the post with a length and a quarter in hand over Irish raider Njord.

Dettori said: “He had some good form as a two-year-old. Marc (Chan, owner) bought him with the thought of having a good Carnival in Dubai, but things didn’t go his way – he wasn’t ready for it.

“Ralph decided to geld him and we didn’t know what to expect today, to be honest. His first two runs this year were really bad, so I rode him to run well.

“He got the splits when I wanted them and in fairness he picked up and put the race to bed straight away.

“Prior to the race we were a little bit puzzled, but he showed he’s still got ability and we can make a plan.”

Kinross passes the post in front
Kinross passes the post in front (Tim Goode/PA)

The popular Italian returned to the winner’s enclosure to warm applause from racegoers.

He added: “It was quite weird when I was cantering down to the start for the second race – people on the rail were shouting my name.

“It’s something that I wasn’t accustomed to for the last 18 months. It’s good to have an atmosphere back.”

Royal Ascot next on the agenda for exciting Hello You

A trip to Royal Ascot for the Albany Stakes is next on the agenda for Hello You following her sparkling debut at Wolverhampton on Monday.

The daughter of Invincible Spirit was making her introduction in what appeared a strong novice event at Dunstall Park, with newcomers from several high-profile yards in opposition.

However, Ralph Beckett’s filly could hardly have been more impressive – taking the lead over a furlong out before powering six and a half lengths clear.

Paddy Power make Hello You a 10-1 shot for the Albany at next month’s showpiece meeting and Beckett confirmed the Group Two contest as her next intended target.

He said: “I was delighted with that. I thought she’d run well, but it looked a warm race beforehand.

“I thought she’d go close, but there was plenty of money for other horses.

“It was more than we expected, obviously – not too many win like that on on debut.

“She appears to have taken the race well, so we’ll give ourselves three weeks to get to Ascot.

“That straight track normally rides quick, but I think she’ll handle it fine.”

Kinross collects with late dash at Kempton

Kinross flashed home late to land the spoils in the British Stallion Studs EBF Hyde Stakes at Kempton.

Always held in high regard and sent off favourite in the Vertem Futurity Trophy on his second two-year-old start, the Ralph Beckett-trained colt has been highly tried since that Newcastle run.

Disappointing at Newbury in September, he put that effort firmly behind him under an ice-cool Richard Kingscote ride, darting for the rail a furlong out and picking up in style to reel in Khuzaam, who had looked the likely winner when hitting the front over a furlong out.

It was very much a case of deja vu for the runner-up, who was beaten a short head in this fast-track qualifier for the all-weather championships 12 months ago and was running for the first time since, on this occasion going down by three-quarters of a length as the 11-10 favourite.

Kingscote was content to look on from towards the rear through the early stages on the 6-1 winner and told Racing TV: “Ralph asked me to sit in and it looked on the book like there was pace, so we were happy and in a nice rhythm.

“I think that will do him the world of good, he’s very athletic and nicely put together and he gave me a very enjoyable ride. It’s nice when you get a dream run, slicing through them like butter with a horse good enough to do it.

“I think a mile suits him well.”

Beckett pair all set for Juvenile Turf test

Ralph Beckett is looking forward to firing a twin assault on the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on Friday.

The Andover-based trainer travelled to Kentucky earlier this week to oversee the final preparations of both New Mandate and Devilwala, and reports both to be in peak condition.

New Mandate appears the stable’s chief contender under Frankie Dettori, having completed a hat-trick in the Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket on his latest appearance.

Frankie Dettori will partner New Mandate
Frankie Dettori will partner New Mandate (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Speaking after walking the turf course at Keeneland on Wednesday, Beckett said: “The track is in excellent shape, and I think the ground will suit him (New Mandate) well – although I don’t think he’s particularly ground dependent, I have to say.

“We haven’t done much with them since they arrived, but that was on purpose. All has gone to plan so far, and I think making sure you take a horse that can travel well is the key factor.

“New Mandate is pretty straightforward, and I think his draw (stall two) is perfect.”

Formerly trained by Archie Watson, Devilwala made a most encouraging debut for Beckett when fourth at 100-1 in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket last month.

Rossa Ryan’s mount appears less well placed in stall 13 of 14.

“Devilwala is a very laid-back individual as well and very well suited to the change of environment,” Beckett added.

“We weren’t expecting him to run so well in the Dewhurst – it was a promising effort. He’s going to have to be on his A-game from that draw, but he looks in the right shape to run a big race.”

The market is headed by Battleground, who bids to provide Aidan O’Brien with a fifth victory in the race following the previous triumphs of Wrote (2011), George Vancouver (2012), Hit It A Bomb (2015) and Mendelssohn (2017).

Since finishing fifth on his racecourse debut, Battleground – a son of War Front out of the yard’s Arc heroine Found – has won the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.

Battleground represents Aidan O'Brien
Battleground represents Aidan O’Brien (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

O’Brien said: “We hope the track will suit him, and he’s stepping up to a mile for the first time. We think the experience will do him good and we’re looking forward to next year.

“Found was an unbelievable mare, and he’s her first foal and by War Front, so it would be brilliant if he could win.”

Jessica Harrington is hoping to see an improved performance from Cadillac, following his fifth-placed finish in the Dewhurst.

“He just got stuck in the mud in the Dewhurst,” she said.

“I should have been very grown up and taken him out, but it’s a very hard thing to do when you’re over there and it’s a Group One.

“He’s quite a laid-back horse who never impresses you at home and just goes through the motions, so we never really know how he is.”

The European challenge is completed by Michael Bell’s The Lir Jet, while the home team includes Todd Pletcher’s Mutasaabeq and the Wesley Ward-trained Outadore.

Ward said: “He’s been training each and every week with Campanelle (leading contender for Juvenile Fillies Turf) and has kept right with her, so we’re excited about him.

“I’d make him a little bit better than an each-way chance, but we’ll see what happens – I get a little over confident sometimes!”

Beckett’s Breeders’ Cup duo primed for Keeneland action

Ralph Beckett reports his two Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf contenders, New Mandate and Devilwala, to be in top form ahead of their date at Keeneland next month.

Both horses have some high-class Pattern-race form with New Mandate winning the Group Two Royal Lodge Stakes and the Listed Flying Scotsman Stakes, while Devilwala was fourth in the Group One Dewhurst Stakes at odds of 100-1.

Beckett believes he could not have New Mandate in better shape ahead of his American challenge.

“I’m very happy with him. If anything he’s in as good a shape as he was going to Newmarket and we’re looking forward to it,” told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.

“We’re seeing at home he’s more relaxed in his work. He’s definitely going the right way the more experience he gets under his belt.

“Frankie Dettori rides. He understands the horse very well now. It’s a good fit.”

Beckett admitted being surprised by Devilwala’s performance in the Dewhurst, although the Kodiac colt had finished second in the Group Two Gimcrack Stakes on the second of his three starts when in the hands of Archie Watson.

“He is a difficult horse to read because he hides his light under a bushel at home,” said the Kimpton handler.

“It was definitely his owner’s call to run him in the Dewhurst. I was going along for the ride there and astonished to see him run as well as he did.

“Devilwala is tough, hardy fellow now. He was a breeze-up horse. I’m his second trainer. He takes it all pretty much in his stride. That’s why he doesn’t knock himself out at home.

“Rossa Ryan is retained by the owner so he rides. He’s been riding well of late and he’s fitted in here very well. He’s been riding out here all year and has ridden a bunch of winners for us, so I have no problem with that at all.

“I’ll be going out next Monday. We look forward to days like this.”

New Mandate rules in Royal Lodge for Beckett and Dettori

New Mandate continued his rapid rise through the ranks with victory in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket.

The Ralph Beckett-trained two-year-old made it a hat-trick of wins for the season as he successfully stepped up to a mile in the Group Two prize.

Having demonstrated his battling abilities when squeezing through a tight gap to land a Listed race at Doncaster last time out, the New Bay gelding was forced to dig deep again before emerging victorious.

Despite Ontario throwing down a late challenge, he could not find a way past New Mandate with three-quarters of a length separating the pair at the post.

Beckett said: “I was always surprised he could do it at seven really, given his pedigree and so on. It is extraordinary I managed to get him beaten twice in maidens. The first time out I hadn’t done enough with him really and I suddenly realised that afterwards.

“The second time, Jack Mitchell kind of got rolling a bit early on the July Course. He has shown up from the first piece of fast work he did. Everything he has done has been very professional.

“He was gelded in January as he was like Warren Beatty on steroids. We had to geld him, but he wouldn’t have been the horse he is if we hadn’t.”

A trip to America could be on the cards for New Mandate, with Beckett eyeing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, for which he was introduced at 10-1 by Paddy
Power.

Beckett said: “We will see where we go from here. Obviously he can’t run in anything worthwhile in the spring, so we have to cut our cloth this autumn.

“We will have a discussion about the Bredeers’ Cup Juvenile Turf. It has been great.”

Saffron Beach landed something of a gamble when making a winning debut in the Blandford Bloodstock Maiden Fillies’ Stakes.

Available at long odds on Friday, the Jane Chapple-Hyam-trained New Bay filly, who returned at 12-1, knew exactly what was required on her racecourse bow, running out a four-and-a-quarter-length winner of the seven-furlong prize.

Chapple-Hyam said: “It’s no surprise. We were very happy with her and she had been galloping with the colts Albadri and Prince Of Abington. She has shown a nice attitude. It’s always nice to see her go away from the field.

“It was impressive and it is nice to have a good class filly in the stable.

“I certainly did back her. Prince Of Abington won nicely at Ascot and Albadri ran a blinder the other day in the Tattersalls Stakes. When you’ve got horses working together, you get a guideline.”

A step up in class is now likely for Saffron Beach with the Racing TV Stakes, better known as the Radley, at Newbury identified as a possible target.

Chapple-Hyam added: “I think I’d like to keep her at that trip on her next start. The Sangster and Wigan families are local to Newbury, though I wouldn’t want soft ground for her. We will just have to watch this weird English weather.”

Fledgling trainer George Boughey saddled his first winner at Newmarket as Mystery Angel (13-2) flew late to win the British Stallion Studs EBF “Jersey Lily” Fillies’ Nursery Handicap.

“That’s my first winner at Newmarket. We’ve always thought quite a lot of her, but she takes a lot of hard work to get fit,” said Boughey.

“She is a good moving horse that the guys in Nick Bradley’s syndicate (owners) will have a lot of fun with.

“Nick has done very well putting his horses in stakes company, so we could have a look at the Montrose back here while there is a Group Three over in France as well, but it is still early days.”

The closing Bentley Motors Handicap went the way of Mark Johnston’s Vale Of Kent, who rallied back past Gallipoli for Franny Norton.

Haggas launches double assault on Cambridgeshire

William Haggas has two runners in his bid to win the bet365 Cambridgeshire for the first time at Newmarket on Saturday.

Seven days on from combining to land the Ayr Gold Cup with Nahaarr, Haggas and in-form jockey Tom Marquand team up with Sinjaari, who won the John Smith’s Cup at York on his only previous start this season in mid-July.

Haggas also saddles Montatham, who reverts to handicap company under Jim Crowley after finishing second in a Listed contest at Sandown recently, however, Ilaraab, the scheduled mount of Cieren Fallon, does not run.

Haggas said: “It might be asking a bit much of Sinjaari to win a John Smith’s Cup and a Cambridgeshire, but he’s very well and I’m very happy with him.

“He’s down in trip so there’s always a concern, but there aren’t many options for these good handicappers – they can run in Listed races and win £15,000, or wait for big pots like this. They may as well run for the big money.

“Montatham is going up in trip a bit, but he will love the cut in the ground and he’s very well, he’s been running well all year.

“They’ve both got decent chances, but I’m not convinced they are drawn on the right side. You’d hope with two to be spread across the track, but they are in two (Montatham) and six (Sinjaari) and having walked the track, the draw could scupper them, but there’s nothing I can do about that.”

The Roger Charlton-trained Tempus bids to make it three from three for the year in the hands of Jason Watson.

A winner at Newbury in August on what was his first appearance in 10 months, the Kingman colt readily followed up at Ascot three weeks ago and carries a 4lb penalty for that victory as he goes in search of the hat-trick.

“He was a nice horse last season, but he has progressed really nicely,” said Watson.

Tempus (left) has been progressing nicely for Roger Charlton
Tempus (left) has been progressing nicely for Roger Charlton (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He had a long time off before running at Newbury and we were expecting him to need the run. He was mightily impressive at Ascot the last day and I believe he will come on for that again.

“My only concern would be the track as it is unique and not to the liking of every horse. That’s going to be the test for him as he has only really raced on nice, galloping tracks so far.

“I do think he has the class to hopefully overcome that. To me, he still has improvement left in him and the more rain that falls, the more it will help him.”

Ralph Beckett believes the demands of the race will bring out the best in Lucander, who won three times last season and opened his account for the current campaign at York last month.

Beckett said: “It was a good effort to win at York and he seems to like these big-field handicaps.

“I was always keen on the idea of the Cambridgeshire for him. The nature of the race will suit him really well.”

Sir Busker was narrowly beaten by Montatham on his penultimate start at York, before chasing home Century Dream in the Group Two Celebration Mile at Goodwood.

William Knight’s stable star must carry 9st 11lb on his return to a handicap, but connections are nevertheless hopeful he will run another big race.

Sam Hoskins, racing manager for owner Kennett Valley Thoroughbreds, said: “We’re really pleased with him at home and he’s a big horse, so he should be able to carry the weight.

Sir Busker won the Silver Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot
Sir Busker won the Silver Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot (Edward Whitaker/PA)

“Obviously there are a lot of young improvers who we’ll have to give weight to. We’re hopefully weighted to reverse placings with Montatham from their York form. Sir Busker has since run second in a Group Two, and Montatham was second at Sandown.

“He’s in great form. It’s a big task to try to win such a prestigious handicap off a mark of 111, but you never know. He’s a highly progressive horse and we’ll keep our fingers crossed – he’ll love the fast pace.”

Other hopefuls include Roger Varian’s Fifth Position, the Andrew Balding-trained Bell Rock and Al Rufaa from John Gosden’s yard.

Of the latter, Frankie Dettori told his Sporting Index blog: “I’ve won the Cambridgeshire three times and all three times I think I had Group horses in Halling, Wissahickon and Lord North.

“We don’t know if Al Ruffa is quite as good as those yet, but I certainly hope so. He’s a three-year-old who could improve further, but he’s got plenty of weight for what he’s done so far.

“He didn’t give his best running last time and it’s a wide-open race, but he’s still lightly-raced so fingers crossed.

“We’re drawn 22 and hopefully that’s the side that’s up with the pace, because sometimes you can win your half of the race and still finish 10 lengths behind!”

Antonia De Vega reigns in Princess Royal prize

Antonia De Vega set up a return to Group One company with victory in the Princess Royal Muhaarar Stakes at Newmarket.

The Ralph Beckett-trained four-year-old put her recent injury problems behind her to make it two wins from as many starts this season with a resolute success in the Group Three prize.

Appearing to appreciate the rain that fell at the track earlier in the day, the lightly-raced daughter of Lope De Vega galloped on strongly all the way to the line in the mile-and-a-half contest to defeat Yorkshire Oaks runner-up Alpinista by half a length.

Beckett said of the 16-5 shot: “She was only having the eighth start of her career today. It has not always been easy with her as she had problems with her splints.

“It has been hard work with her and she had a problem with her splint (which kept her out of the Princess of Wales’s Stakes) and it grumbled away for too long. Her recent work was very good.

“The ground was a bit quick at Pontefract (in June) and she was a bit undercooked, but we just about got away with it. I’m delighted she got her head in front today.

“The obvious race for her is the Fillies & Mares on Champions Day.”

Cloak Of Spirits (4-1) made the most of a drop in grade to gain a deserved first success of the season in the Tasleet British EBF Rosemary Stakes.

Having finished second in the 1000 Guineas on her previous start at the track, the Richard Hannon-trained daughter of Invincible Spirit, whose five previous starts all came at Pattern level, proved a cut above her rivals on her return to a mile in the Listed contest.

Up with the pace throughout, the 4-1 shot found plenty late on to hold off favourite Bounce The Blues by half a length to score for the first time since making a winning debut at Ascot last year.

Hannon said: “I don’t think anyone would begrudge her winning that. It was lovely to see her win a black type race as she has been second in a Classic.

“Sheikh Mohammed Obaid has been very good to let me give her one more run this year. He will decide if we carry on, or if she goes to stud this year.

“She is a fine, big filly with a lot of scope. She would make a lovely broodmare, but she would also make a lovely four-year-old. She has been a star for me.

“I think she just loves this track. She has done it the hard way again. She was so brave in the Guineas, where she ran a super race and she deserved that.”

Rainbow Fire (11-2) continued to make up for lost time when getting off the mark at the second time of asking by a length in the Derrinstown Irish EBF Maiden Stakes.

Trainer John Gosden said: “He came up here in the first week when they were running the two-year-old races. My good friend Richard Hannon got one loose and he cannoned straight into this horse. He was lame and lost a lot of time.

“He has developed well since and had a run at Newbury. I think it was a nice sort of race today. He has been pleasing us and has shown a great attitude and he will get a mile.”

Walton Street (6-1) produced a career best to secure his first victory in more than two years after prevailing by a length and a half in the Listed Eqtidaar Godolphin Stakes.

Charlie Appleby, trainer, said: “That run at Lingfield would have brought him forward as he had a long lay-off going into that race.

“He is a solid, old horse and I’d say that was probably a career best. He is likely to be heading back to Dubai again and going round Meydan to see if he can pick up one of the pots out there, as there are not too many opportunities at his level here.”

Injury may have prevented Breath Caught from being given an entry in the bet365 Cambridgeshire, however he gained compensation with a decisive two-and-quarter-length success in the Shadwell Farm Handicap to complete an across-the-card treble for Beckett.

The Andover handler said of the 4-1 winner: “I should have put him in the Cambridgeshire, but he had time off with some bone bruising in a hind leg and we weren’t sure when we were going to get him right.

“He is in the horses in training sale, so I’m not sure if he will run again before that.”

Cobh on upward curve for Royal Lodge bid

Clive Cox is encouraged by Cobh’s progress on and off the track as the improving juvenile moves up to Group company for the first time in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket.

Cobh has twice run in Listed company so far, finishing second in the Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot to Richard Hannon’s Chindit before taking Salisbury’s Stonehenge Stakes.

He takes a significant step up in class in Saturday’s Group Two, over a mile.

Cox said: “He was an impressive winner of the Stonehenge at Salisbury, clearly getting the mile well.

“He’s a big, scopey individual who has continued to physically develop with his progression on the race track.

“We’re really looking forward to him stepping up to Group Two level.”

Among the opposition is Ralph Beckett’s New Mandate, who heads to the Rowley Mile off the back of two successive wins.

The gelded son of New Bay shed his maiden tag at Sandown, before going on to win the Listed Flying Scotsman Stakes at Doncaster two weeks ago.

“Both New Mandate and the jockey (Frankie Dettori) were impressive at Doncaster to go through a tight gap and win the Flying Scotsman,” said Beckett.

“He was the only horse to come up that far rail and win all meeting.”

New Mandate is set to run over a mile for the first time, having so far been campaigned over seven furlongs, but Beckett has no doubts about the suitability of the trip.

“I’m really looking forward to the Royal Lodge, and the mile will be no problem,” he said.

“He is out of an Authorized mare and is by New Bay, so he should handle some juice in the ground.

“He was a nightmare early on – that is why we gelded him back in January. He is a good work horse, and that is why we took the jump into Listed class on a mark of 89 last time.”

Mark Johnston’s Acomb Stakes winner Gear Up is also in the line-up, having won his first two starts.

Aidan O’Brien is represented by Ontario, the only runner with existing Group Two form having been beaten a length when third in the Futurity Stakes at the Curragh last month.

Roger Charlton’s Pleasant Man makes up the field of five in what will be just his second racecourse appearance, after winning on his debut at Haydock at the start of this month.

Stat of the Day, 24th September 2020

Wednesday's pick was...

6.30 Kempton : Pioneering @ 7/2 BOG 4th at 15/8 (Prominent early, chased leaders, ridden over 2f out, no impression on winner inside final furlong, kept on) : not the result we wanted, but I was definitely right about the price offering value.

Thursday's pick runs in the...

2.05 Pontefract :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Normally, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.30am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Victory Chime @ 11/4 BOG

...in a 7-runner, Class 3, Flat Handicap for 3yo+ over 1m2f on Good/Good to Soft ground worth £7,470 to the winner...

Why?...

As tends to be the case, the Geegeez Report Suite and interactive racecard provide us with an absolute stack of data, so let's crack on.

Today, I'm going to start with one of the easiest ways into a race : The Shortlist, which looks like this...

...and gives an indication that our horse should be suited by conditions. It's an indication backed by the following about this horse's performance to date. His overall record stands at...


...and includes of note today...

  • 16/28 (57.1%) at 6/1 or shorter
  • 12/24 (50%) in races worth up to £8,000
  • 11/21 (52.4%) during July-October
  • 11/21 (52.4%) in fields of 5-8
  • 9/20 (45%) during 2018-20
  • 9/19 (47.4%) on Good/Good to Soft
  • 6/17 (35.3%) in handicaps
  • and 5/5 (100%) on Good to Soft

Our next port of call is the racecard itself...

And the Geegeez ratings...

Plenty to go at there, of course, so let's take it bit by bit. We've discussed the horse and the Geegeez Ratings are self-explanatory, so let's focus on the trainer/jockey and trainer/course details. The TJ30 record of 5 from 17 is excellent, but isn't a massive surprise if you get into the Geegeez Query Tool, where you can do the following...

...from which, the pair are...

  • 15/47 (31.9%) during June-September
  • 13/36 (36.1%) in races worth up to £8k
  • 11/33 (33.3%) with male runners
  • 9/22 (40.9%) in fields of 4-7 runners
  • 9/18 (50%) at 4/1 and shorter
  • 8/28 (28.6%) on Good to Soft
  • 5/10 (50%) at Class 3
  • and 4/10 (40%) over a 1m2f trip

And finally for today, we'll look at Ralph Beckett's record here at Pontefract. Ralph only sends an average of 5 runners a year to this track and I can only assume it's the 400+ mile round trip that keeps him away, as the ones he sends here do very well, as once again the Geegeez Query Tool is our friend...

...including of note today...

  • 16/28 (57.1%) at 6/1 and shorter
  • 12/24 (50%) in races worth up to £8k
  • 11/21 (52.4%) during July-October
  • 11/21 (52.4%) in fields of 5-8 runners
  • 9/20 (45%) during 2018-20
  • 9/19 (47.4%) on Good/Good to Soft
  • 6/17 (35.3%) in handicaps
  • and 5 from 5 (100%) on Good to Soft

I've spent considerably more time on this today to try to highlight some aspects of the toolkit you might not currently be using as a type of precursor to next week's switch away to a Race of the Day feature, but hopefully you've found it both interesting to read...

...and a justifciation for... a 1pt win bet on Victory Chime @ 11/4 BOG as was still available at 9.00am Thursday, but as always please check your own BOG status (*some firms are not BOG until later in the morning)To see a small sample of odds offered on this race...

...click here for the betting on the 2.05 Pontefract

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

Here is today's racecard

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS