Busker camp eye Sovereign Stakes

Sir Busker is to seek a first Group success in the Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury next month, after connections decided not to supplement the five-year-old for the Qatar Sussex Stakes.

The William Knight-trained gelding put up a career-best display when third in the Group One Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot behind Palace Pier.

When that horse was taken out of this week’s Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, the temptation was there to add Sir Busker at the confirmation stage – but owners Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds decided the fee was too high.

Sir Busker will instead head for Salisbury’s Group Three on August 12, with the Group Two City Of York on the Knavesmire on August 21 another possible target.

Sam Hoskins, Kennet Valley’s racing manager, said: “He’s really well. We’d love to run him in the Sussex – with Palace Pier out – but the supplement was too expensive, so we didn’t

“He’s going for the Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury.

“He’s in at York in the City Of York, so he could run in both races. The long-term target is the QEII at Ascot in October.”

Title-chasing Marquand bags Salisbury treble

Tom Marquand took the riding honours at Salisbury as the title-chasing jockey celebrated a treble.

Marquand currently sits in third place in the championship, behind title holder Oisin Murphy and William Buick.

His first winner came via Michael Bell’s above-average juvenile Dairerin (13-8 joint-favourite) in the Sergei Prokofiev Standing At Whitsbury Manor Auction Stakes

And he then teamed up with his boss William Haggas to win the feature Showcasing Standing At Whitsbury Manor Handicap on Johan and the Adaay Standing At Whitsbury Manor British EBF Maiden Stakes with Kolisi (7-2).

Tom Marquand riding Dairerin to an easy success
Tom Marquand riding Dairerin to an easy success (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Of Dairerin, who finished fourth in the Woodcote Stakes last time out, and on whom he made all the running, Marquand said: “It was a nice performance. Realistically I think the sticky ground played to his strengths and it helped being able to get on the speed.

“It was a pretty nice performance because what I liked was that the more I got into him the more he found which is always nice.”

Johan has been a solid performer for a number of seasons now and having dropped down to a mark of 100 he returned to winning ways, seeing off Variyann by half a length.

“He’s a lovely horse, but he just needs that bit of give in the ground to be really be seen at his best,” said Marquand.

“He had that today and being up with the pace really helped – it made him tough to beat.”

When asked if Johann was up to winning in Listed company, which he has been tried in before, the championship-chasing jockey replied: “I suppose on the right ground on the right day the form that he can run up to at his best isn’t a mile off, but he would probably have to find a bit more.”

A son of Derby winner Harzand, Kolisi seems to have made an impression on Marquand, getting off the mark at the third time of asking on the step up to 10 furlongs.

“He’s improved with each run and I was really happy with him, getting that extra couple of furlongs under his belt really played to his strengths,” said Marquand.

“He probably bumped into not a bad horse (Ranchero) at Nottingham (when second) but having the extra trip, he showed a nice bit of toe and wasn’t doing an awful lot in front.

“I think he’s a really nice horse who had progressed. He should be a decent handicapper and one to look forward to.”

No chance of the jockeys at Salisbury forgetting to weigh in
No chance of the jockeys at Salisbury forgetting to weigh in (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Another decent winner on the card was Roger Charlton’s Pleasant Man (7-1) who bounced back from a below-par display in the Chester Vase to win the Whitsbury Manor Stud Bibury Cup Handicap for Jason Watson.

Ralph Beckett’s Seattle King (100-30 favourite) was a well-backed winner on debut in the Due Diligence Standing At Whitsbury Manor British EBF Blagrave Maiden Stakes.

Departure claims Cathedral honours on seasonal debut

Line Of Departure made a sparkling return to action in the British Stallion Studs EBF Cathedral Stakes at Salisbury.

Roger Varian’s charge won three times as a juvenile last season, including a valuable sales race success at Doncaster in September.

The Mehmas colt disappointed on his final start of 2020 in the Mill Reef Stakes, but bounced back to his best on his seasonal reappearance in what looked a strong renewal of this Listed contest.

Khaadem, who finished fourth in both the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot and the July Cup at Newmarket last summer, was the favourite at 11-8, with 7-2 chance Mums Tipple rated his biggest threat.

However, 8-1 shot Line Of Departure travelled strongly throughout in the hands of David Egan and showed a smart change of gear against the far rail to pull two and a quarter lengths clear of Khaadem with relative ease.

“We’re thrilled. He’s a nice colt to look forward to for the summer ahead,” said Varian.

“I’d like to thank connections for being patient. We would liked to have run him in a Commonwealth Cup trial, but we had heavy ground that weekend when there were suitable races at Haydock and Newbury and he’s a fast ground horse, so we had to change our focus a little bit.

“It’s great that he’s come and won as he did today – I thought he was very impressive.”

When asked whether the July Cup at Newmarket could be a realistic target, the trainer added: “We won’t make any plans today, but I think he’s a colt that on summer conditions we ought to be quite ambitious with.

“He’s a half-brother to Golden Horde, who was a very good sprinter, and now he’s a winner at Listed level we’ll have to consider ambitious options, I should think.

“He’d be deserving of his chance in some nice races after today’s performance.”

Alflaila finished with a flourish to make a winning debut in the Byerley Stud Peter & Virginia Walwyn Memorial Novice Stakes.

Owen Burrows won with newcomer Alflaila
Owen Burrows won with newcomer Alflaila (Simon Cooper/PA)

The Owen Burrows-trained juvenile was a 4-1 shot for his racecourse introduction in the hands of Jim Crowley.

Richard Hannon’s System looked sure to prevail after battling his way to the lead, but Alflaila found top gear late on and got up to score by half a length.

Burrows said: “He’s worked nicely at home, to be fair, so I’d have been disappointed if he hadn’t ran a race of promise.

“It was a good performance as I think it was Ralph Beckett’s horse (Cardinal Rouge) who came across us coming out of the stalls, they didn’t go very quick and I thought the front two had got away from us. He’s done well to pick them up.

“It was very pleasing, but we won’t make any plans just yet.”

Beyond Equal registered his third win at Salisbury with a comfortable success in the Yew Tree Inn Handicap.

Running over five furlongs for the first time in almost two years, the 9-4 favourite proved two lengths too strong for Lomu in the hands of Rob Hornby.

Winning trainer Stuart Kittow said: “That was very good – he deserved that.

“He’s very consistent and the race worked out well for him because they went a nice, fast pace. They go that bit quicker over five furlongs and it’s suited him well.

“We’ll stick to five furlongs now, I’d have thought.”

Khaadem bids to bounce back in Cathedral Stakes

Khaadem bids to get back on track in the British Stallion Studs EBF Cathedral Stakes at Salisbury.

The Charlie Hills-trained sprinter has been out of luck since the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood in August 2019, but has taken on the best at Group One level.

He was fourth in both the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and the July Cup last season.

Khaadem returned to action at Meydan in March but was below his best in the Al Quoz Sprint won by Extravagant Kid, who represents America in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

His first run back in the UK did not go to plan on heavy ground at Haydock – where he was third of four to Cape Byron, another horse with Royal Ascot aspirations in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

However, Hills is expecting a much better performance from the five-year-old on Sunday.

“It looks the right spot for him,” he said.

“It was desperate ground at Haydock. He couldn’t act on it, so we put a line through the run.”

Andrew Balding is hoping a break has done Shine So Bright good.

The grey was last of four to Pogo in a Listed contest at Leicester, and returns after a 50-day absence.

“He’s been a little bit below par the last couple of runs – but he’s had a break, and I’ve been pleased the way he’s been working,” said Balding.

“He’s a talented horse on his day, and these are his optimum conditions, so he wouldn’t be without a chance.”

The other older horse in the line-up is the four-year-old Mums Tipple, from Richard Hannon’s yard.

The other three runners are three-year-olds, headed by the Mick Channon-trained Cairn Gorm.

A Group Three scorer at Deauville in August, the Bated Breath colt tackled even stronger company and contested the Group One Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at ParisLongchamp in October.

Roger Varian’s Line Of Departure, winner of a valuable sales race at Doncaster, plus Hugo Palmer’s Chocoya, complete the sextet.

Talbeyah’s Salisbury victory delights Burrows

Owen Burrows was delighted to see Talbeyah rediscover the winning trail at Salisbury.

The Lope De Vega filly looked a high-class prospect when getting off the mark in impressive style at Chepstow in April, earning herself a place in Listed company in last month’s Height of Fashion Stakes at Goodwood.

The Owen Burrows-trained three-year-old ultimately came up short on the Sussex Downs, but was not disgraced in finishing fourth – and had her sights lowered for Salisbury’s MansionBet Bet 10 Get 20 Margadale Fillies’ Handicap.

Talbeyah was one of two runners for the Shadwell team, with Richard Hannon’s Anghaam narrowly preferred in the market as the 13-8 favourite.

However, ridden by the owners’ retained rider Jim Crowley, it was the Burrows runner who saw out the 10-furlong contest best to score a shade cosily by a half a length.

Burrows said: “She ran well enough at Goodwood in the Listed race. It was tough conditions on the day, and Jim just felt physically she wasn’t quite able to show her best.

“They gave us a mark of 88 for today, and we’ll work our way back up through the handicap system and hope to see if we can get some black type later in the year.

“I’d like to think she’ll be able to go back into Stakes company before the end of the season. She’ll strengthen and mature now through the summer – and I thought today, certainly on that faster ground, she looks like she’ll get further.

“As we know, she goes on soft ground as well. So she’s a nice, versatile filly and one who will hopefully keep progressing.”

Groom was a clear-cut winner at Salisbury
Groom was a clear-cut winner at Salisbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Hannon had earlier caused a minor upset in the opening Best Odds Guaranteed At MansionBet EBF Restricted Novice Stakes, with 16-1 shot Groom making it third time lucky.

The Aclaim colt had finished fifth and third on his first two career starts, but raised his game significantly to see off 6-4 favourite Cashew by almost four lengths.

Papacito made a winning debut for Roger Varian in the MansionBet Watch And Bet Novice Stakes.

Seemingly well fancied as the 2-1 market leader, the three-year-old picked up well to get up and beat West Side Glory by a length.

Papacito made a big impression on debut
Papacito made a big impression on debut (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“We were hoping for a good run – he’d worked nicely at home,” said Varian.

“I thought it was a good performance, because there were a lot of traffic problems and he had to switch and change and stop and start again and nearly clipped heels. He pricked his ears after crossing the line, so I should think it was the performance of a horse with ability.

“The owner has been very patient with him. He had a few problems last year and the early spring of this year. I’m always grateful for an owner’s patience and I’m very pleased the horse has got off to a winning start.

“He’s just won a novice, so we won’t get carried away. We’ll go back into novice company under a penalty, I should think. Then we’ll get a mark and see where we go.”

Opera Gift on song at Salisbury

Opera Gift signalled his potential as a staying handicapper this summer after handling lively ground to record a promising victory at Salisbury.

Andrew Balding’s Nathaniel gelding cruised into contention and then buckled down well under David Probert to beat Midnights Legacy by more than two lengths – with early pace-setter Gumball a nose further back in the AJN Steelstock ‘Delivering Steel Expertise’ City Bowl Handicap.

Salisbury’s chairman Jeff Smith and Balding had to settle for fifth with their 1000 Guineas hope Alcohol Free a little later at Newmarket.

But the Group One-winning filly nonethless ran well again – and in Opera Gift, they have a home-bred who looks sure to improve too.

Probert said: “His work has been OK, and we thought the ground might be a bit quick for him.

“We got racing a long way out, but in truth I never felt the outcome was in any doubt. He’s a very nice, progressive type for Andrew and Mr Smith, and showed his ability today.”

Walls Of Kano emerged a neck victor over Aesthete for Brian Meehan and Martin Dwyer in an incident-packed AJN Steelstock ‘Success Breeds Success’ Novice Stakes.

State Secretary was pulled up, and favourite Hamoudi unshipped his jockey after putting his foot in a hole, but Walls Of Kano then stretched out willingly to open his account at the second attempt.

Meehan said: “He needed his run at Newbury, and I was really pleased with him today.

“It made sense with his pedigree to drop him back (in trip) a little bit. He hasn’t come in his coat but is a good, straightforward individual who loves doing his work every morning. I think he’s got a bright future.”

Ralph Beckett’s Oman had to work under Hector Crouch for his all-the-way triumph in the British EBF AJN Steelstock ‘Supporting UK Construction’ Maiden Stakes.

The 7-4 favourite was the first to come under a ride, a long way out, but he responded to pull a length and a quarter clear of Mellow Magic.

Beckett said: “He’s not a horse who knocks himself out, and was flicking his ears, so Hector decided he wasn’t doing enough and kicked on.

“The Rowley Mile didn’t suit him in a back-end nursery last year, but I always thought he would get a mile and a half and also a mile and threequarters.”

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Samoot made a fine impression when rewarding support into 10-11 by winning the AJN Steelstock ‘Your Perfect Partner’ Handicap.

Under Richard Kingscote, the Shadwell Estate filly comfortably held the late challenge of Rosemary And Thyne.

Kingscote said: “She’s still only learning, but was much more professional today.

“They’ve done a lot more work with her at home. I got a lovely smooth run through – she has a very good attitude and has done the job well.”

There was a minor shock in the opening AJN Steelstock ‘Real Steel’ Fillies’ Conditions Stakes when 5-4 favourite Out In Yorkshire was unable to resist Silver Bullet Lady.

The 7-1 winner came from last to first under Hollie Doyle to land the spoils for trainer Roger Charlton.

In a tight finish to the AJN Steelstock ‘The Winning Team’ Handicap, Alan King’s 5-4 favourite No Recollection clung on by a nose under Martin Harley to get the better of Farhan.

Apollo One victory may launch European adventures

Apollo One can look forward to being sent on his travels next season after returning to winning ways in the Weatherbys TBA Conditions Stakes at Salisbury.

Campaigned at Group Three and Listed level on his last two starts, the Peter Charalambous-trained Equiano colt took advantage of a return to calmer waters to make his first start over six furlongs a triumphant one in the feature contest.

Although one of the first off the bridle, Apollo One (9-4) – who is out of the Newmarket handler’s 11-time winner Boonga Roogeta – picked up well to deny last-time-out Ascot scorer Dark Shift by three-quarters of a length.

Charalambous said: “I don’t know what happened last time at Doncaster, but Martin (Harley) said he gave him one beautiful feel out there and that he is definitely a Group horse.

“He said he loved the soft ground. That is his last run of the season, and next year we will probably have some fun in France on soft ground.

“As he has got stronger he has felt like he is a six-and-a-half-furlong horse, so I thought we will drop him in here. He was always going to take a bit of a tank, (then) I knew he would pick up.

“It would be nice for his mum if he could win a Listed race in France, or a little Group Three.”

David Menuisier celebrated a two-year-old double, initiated by newcomer Belloccio (11-1), who got up by a neck in the opening division of the PKF Francis Clark British Novice Stakes.

The Pulborough trainer said: “He had been working really well, but I don’t train them to win first time out – and they have to be good to do that.

“If he does come out of it well and runs again it is likely to be in France. There are two Group One races at Saint-Cloud at the end of the season we could look at.”

Autumn Twilight (20-1) completed Menuisier’s haul, and formed the first leg of a double too for jockey Kieran Shoemark, getting the better of Ensyaaby by a head in division one of the Byerley Stud British EBF Novice Stakes.

Menuisier said: “This one works with Belloccio – and when I saw him win, I thought he might run well, and he did. He is very professional.

“He was bred by Kildaragh Stud and was sent to the breeze-ups – but they couldn’t sell him, so they asked if I wanted to train him, and I said ‘let’s give it a go’.”

Shaun Lycett celebrated his first Flat winner in 293 days when The King’s Steed (22-1) prevailed by a neck under Shoemark in the opening division of the Consign With Byerley Stud Handicap.

Champagne Piaff (7-2) built on a solid Ascot debut behind subsequent Group Three scorer La Barrosa, turning over odds-on favourite Fundamental by three-quarters of a length in the second division of the seven-furlong novice.

Winning trainer Gary Moore said: “He was just a bit green today, but he is just a big baby – and whatever he does at two is a bonus.

“I’ve got something in the back of my mind for him, but it might be ambitious. I will see how he comes out of it.”

James Doyle had a fair idea of what to expect from the Hugo Palmer-trained The Rosstafarian (6-1), who ran out out a four-and-a-quarter-length winner in division two of the mile novice.

Doyle said: “I galloped him at home and I thought he would improve a bit for a run, but that last bit of work definitely sharpened him up.

“He was a bit green but he quickened up well in the end.”