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.”

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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.

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“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.”