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Ranch Hand swoops to claim Marathon title at Lingfield

Ranch Hand showed a neat turn of foot in the straight to land the Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes at Lingfield.

James Doyle produced Andrew Balding’s five-year-old with a well-timed run to lead just over a furlong out.

Ranch Hand quickly put the race to bed and he galloped on strongly to hold the late challenge of Rock Eagle by a length and a half, with Lucky Deal third.

There was a strong pace early on with Australis, Ranch Hand and Amtiyaz to the fore, but the tempo slackened before the field passed the winning post for the first time.

Martin Harley was the first to make his move, sending Rainbow Dreamer on four furlongs out, but the 3-1 favourite could not hold on as his rivals hunted him down in the straight. He eventually finished fourth – and Harley later received a four-day suspension for careless riding, covering April 16, 17, 19 and 20.

Balding said: “I thought James always had him in the right position but that he might get caught flat-footed off the very slow pace, but he’s a classy horse and got out of trouble.

“He’s now four from four on the all-weather – and while I was worried whether he would act round Lingfield, I shouldn’t have been.

“This was very much Plan B, because we ran out of jumping options, and I think we’ll stick to the Flat now. The most likely target is the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot.”

Doyle added: “It was a messy race that lacked pace, making it very frustrating because I jumped soundly, but Hollie (Doyle, on Amtiyaz) took my position.

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“The good thing was that when the race opened up he was fine. His run in a Listed race at Newmarket was pretty solid, and I knew he had the form coming into this.”

Pholas mowed down the opposition in the closing stages to cause a 25-1 upset for Hollie Doyle in the Ladbrokes All-Weather Fillies’ And Mares’ Championships Conditions Stakes.

George Boughey’s four-year-old came from last to first thanks to a devastating turn of foot in the hands of his record-breaking jockey.

Five-time course winner Fizzy Feet made the running from Arafi and Nirodha, but the pace was only steady – and all six were in with a chance as they turned for home.

It was Pholas, running for the ninth time this year already, who held all the answers – charging late to get home by a neck from Shimmering Dawn, with Arafi third.

Hollie Doyle sprang a 25-1 surprise on Pholas
Hollie Doyle sprang a 25-1 surprise on Pholas (Mike Egerton/PA)

The disappointing horse in the race was the 4-5 favourite, Indie Angel, who could not get in a blow.

Doyle said: “I thought she was a well-handicapped horse, but that it was a big ask for her in a conditions race.

“To win she needed to do things smoothly and get into a rhythm, with a pace to aim at. She hit a flat spot two out, but picked up really well.”

Diligent Harry looked a smart sprinter in the making when storming to victory in the Ladbrokes 3 Year Old All-Weather Championships Conditions Stakes.

Diligent Harry (green/red) impressed at Lingfield
Diligent Harry (green/red) impressed at Lingfield (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The Clive Cox-trained colt came with a pulsating run to wear down Mighty Gurkha in the final furlong and win in cosy fashion.

Adam Kirby, who was on a high after taking the Sprint Championships on Summerghand, had Diligent Harry in a good position just off the pace.

Bravado led in the early stages, but Hollie Doyle soon took it up on Mighty Gurkha after getting across to the rail from a wide draw.

Mighty Gurkha led into the straight, but Diligent Harry (2-1 favourite) had him in his sights and kicked away to score by two lengths. Mighty Gurkha held Zamaani by a nose for second spot.

Diligent Harry was cut to 16-1 from 25-1 for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot with Betfair and Paddy Power.

Cox said: “I’m over the moon, because having not run since January it was a big ask. He was beaten here last time, but on the positive side he gained knowledge of the track, and he’s shown today that when it all goes right it’s fabulous.

“He’s as exciting as a few of the good sprinters we’ve had, but as he’s done a lot in a short time, I shall give him a recharge now.”

Kirby said: “On his previous run here we got bumped out on the turn. It’s been a learning curve for the horse and a lot has happened in three and a half months.

“He’s still a bit babyish, but has taken a step forward. It’s a long way to Ascot, but I’m looking forward to the future.”

The closing Bombardier All-Weather Championships Apprentice Handicap went to Lord Of The Lodge (5-1 joint-favourite) for trainer Karl Burke and jockey Pierre-Louis Jamin.

Haydock next for Ranch Hand

Andrew Balding has earmarked Haydock as the next port of call for his talented jumps recruit Ranch Hand.

The Dunaden gelding will be given the chance to follow up his debut victory over timber at Exeter when he travels to Merseyside for an introductory hurdle on December 2.

Ranch Hand had previously finished the Flat season on a winning note in the Listed Rose Bowl Stakes at Newmarket.

Balding said: “He jumped well, and that’s the main thing. He was a bit eager early on but he might have been a bit fresh, because he had a little bit of a break from his last run on the Flat.

“He got a bit tired near the end, but the plan will be to keep him over hurdles for the time being. He is a decent horse

“All being well, he will head to Haydock on December 2.”

A step up in trip is on the agenda for stablemate Diocletian, who finished fourth on his hurdling debut at Taunton.

Balding said: “Diocletian ran fine and he jumped well. He needs further, and probably a more galloping track would suit him.

“It was not a bad starting point for him, because the main thing was his jumping – which he was fine with.”

Ranch Hand outbattles Withhold for Rose Bowl glory

Ranch Hand ended a lengthy losing streak when showing his battling abilities to secure a tenacious success in the Jockey Club Rose Bowl Stakes at Newmarket.

The Andrew Balding-trained Dunaden gelding stuck to the task well over two miles in the Listed contest to gain his first victory in more than a year.

Having raced in the last pair for much of the race, Ranch Hand forged on just outside the furlong pole before defeating last year’s winner Withhold – who was in front of him last time out – by half a length, to complete a double for champion jockey Oisin Murphy.

Balding, speaking away from the track, said of the 15-2 winner: “He is a home bred and I’m delighted to have won a Listed race with him.

“He was beaten by Withhold last time, but in fairness it is probably the first time he has had his conditions this season. Two miles with give in the ground is what he wants.

“He has shown a fair level of form on the Flat and I think we will now go jumping with him as he will be a lovely hurdler.

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“We used to keep the odd jumper in the yard, we’ve not had one for a little while now, but it was something everyone was keen to do.”

Lost In Space initiated Murphy’s brace and a double for trainer John Gosden when completing a hat-trick of victories with a four-length success in the Bentley Motors Nursery Handicap.

Gosden said: “He is a lovely little horse that has knocked up a hat-trick. He has done nothing wrong.

“He will be going to the sales in October at Tattersalls. He is a lovely horse to race in Hong Kong or America.”

Grand Bazaar (4-7) returned to winning ways to make it two for Gosden, and provide the concluding leg of a double for William Buick, when running out a two-length winner of the Federation Of Bloodstock Agents Handicap.

Gosden said: “He has been running well in big races and this one rather cut up, which I was surprised about. They just went a bit hard at Ascot last time. He is a genuine horse that tries hard. He might well come back for the Old Rowley Cup, but he could go further.”

Buick got the ball rolling aboard the Charlie Appleby-trained La Barrosa (4-7), who claimed the Group Three Tattersalls Stakes by a length.

Royal Champion earned quotes of 33-1 for next year’s Derby with William Hill and Betway following an impressive length-and-a-quarter debut success in the Rossdales EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes.

Roger Varian, winning trainer,said of the 100-30 shot: “He travelled into it nicely today and I think he got to the front plenty early enough for his first run. He probably got tired up the hill and a bit lonely, but I thought he did it pretty well.

“We expected good things from him and he has made a nice start. Hopefully it’s a start he can build on and be one of our nice three-year-olds to look forward to next year.”

Atzeni was also successful aboard Zoran (6-4 favourite) in the Newmarket Challenge Whip Handicap.

Lady Of Aran provided trainer Charlie Fellowes with his first winner in 47 days when opening her account for the campaign by a head in the British Stallion Studs EBF Premier Fillies’ Handicap.

Fellowes said: “I’ve been on the cold list for a long time – too long. They’ve been running so well, they’ve just been unlucky.

“She always gives 120 per cent and Georgia (Dobie) gets on with her brilliantly and she really runs for her, so that was lovely to see. I’d love to get some black type with her.”