Mostahdaf back in the groove with Sandown Listed success

Mostahdaf made the most of having his sights lowered when getting back on the winning trail in the Chasemore Farm Fortune Stakes at Sandown.

Having made it three wins from as many starts in the Heron Stakes over the same course and distance in May, the son of Frankel was stepped up to Group One level for the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot – where he beat only one rival home.

Dropping back down to Listed class for his latest assignment, John and Thady Gosden’s charge was the 7-4 favourite in the hands of Jim Crowley and ultimately got the job done in good style.

The keen-going Rhoscolyn was in there pitching as things started to hot up inside the final two furlongs, with Mostahdaf travelling strongly and the popular Sir Busker produced with his challenge between the pair.

It was Escobar who emerged as the biggest threat to Mostahdaf, however – and while the market leader carried his rival across the track when coming under maximum pressure, he was well on top as he passed the post half a length in front.

Thady Gosden said: “We were very pleased with him, because he has had a bit of time off. He hit a couple of ridges up the straight, but he handled the track as they had plenty of rain here yesterday. It was soft enough for him, but his class got him through.

“He is a nice horse for next year definitely, but we will see how he comes out of the race and if we do anything with him for the rest of the season.”

Mostahdaf was completing a double on the card for the Gosden team following the earlier success of 2-1 shot Damaar and Robert Havlin in the Blandford Bloodstock Novice Stakes.

Goldspur after winning at Sandown
Goldspur after winning at Sandown (PA)

The Charlie Appleby-trained Goldspur earned quotes for next year’s Cazoo Derby at Epsom following his impressive debut success in the Time Test EBF Novice Stakes.

Sent off the 2-1 favourite under James Doyle, the Dubawi colt looks destined for bigger better things – judged on the way he stretched six and a half lengths clear.

“I was pleased with that run,” said Appleby.

“He is a horse that has got plenty of stamina in his pedigree, so he will be a mile-and-a-half horse for next year.

“Going forward we will look at stepping him up to a mile and a quarter and point him at something like the Zetland Stakes.

“I’m very pleased that he is a big margin winner, but soft ground has come into play for him there.”

Saffron Beach takes Atalanta spoils

Saffron Beach made the most of dropping back to Group Three level as she regained the winning thread in the Betway Atalanta Stakes at Sandown.

The New Bay filly was a Group Two winner as a juvenile and has been highly tried by Jane Chapple-Hyam this term, finishing second in the Nell Gwyn Stakes on her seasonal bow before again filling the runner-up spot in the 1000 Guineas in May.

She then switched up to 12 furlongs for a crack the Cazoo Oaks, where she finished a distant eighth behind Snowfall, while a return to a mile in the Falmouth Stakes again yielded little joy.

Off the track since that run at the beginning of July, Saffron Beach was sent off a 9-2 shot to get back on track in this mile heat – and Hollie Doyle had her tucked in behind early leaders Auria and Maamora before making her move in the straight.

Saffron Beach showed a nice change of pace to take it up with two furlongs to run – and she was well on top in the closing stages, with Doyle keeping her up to the task to win by two and a quarter lengths.

Waliyak finished with purpose to take second, while outsider Ville De Grace was back in third.

Chapple-Hyam is now planning to return to the top level with Saffron Beach, either in Britain or further afield.

She said: “She tried hard and it was a great ride from Hollie. She really enjoyed coming up the hill the last two furlongs.

“We had our hiccup in the Oaks and a hiccup in the Falmouth, where she scoped dirty afterwards, and she has come back here as the filly we know she is.

“It was important today just because we believe in the horse and I had to drop her back to a Group Three, just to get the horse’s confidence back as much as anything.

“It was great that Hollie came and rode her on Wednesday to get to know her. I’m thrilled she has been able to do it today in a dominant fashion. Hollie said she had a lot of horse underneath her.

“She is in the Sun Chariot obviously, but would one have a little go at the EP Taylor (at Woodbine in Canada on October 17)? As you know, I love to travel.

“I made my decision in the Oaks and it was wrong, so I think I have to leave it to the owners.”

Doyle was teaming up with Saffron Beach for the first time and she was full of praise for the winner.

She said: “I was very impressed. I was surprised she went off the price she did, as on form figures she had the best in the race if she turned up, and she did.

“I got to know her Wednesday and she gave me a great ride then. It is just good to get to know what you have got underneath you before you ride in a big race like this.

“She settled beautifully today and that ground probably slowed her down a bit and she dropped her head.

“I knew she would get a bit further so I committed two down and she ran through the line. I just wanted to get her a lead and get her switched off. Jane said this stiff mile would suit her.

“I think she would get 10 furlongs but ridden like that, I don’t see why she can’t stay at a stiff mile. You would like to think somewhere along the line she could be competitive at Group One level.”

Reach For The Moon scales Solario heights

Reach For The Moon forwarded his Classic claims as he cantered home in the Betway Solario Stakes at Sandown.

Sporting The Queen’s silks, the Sea The Stars colt was sent off the 2-5 favourite for the Group Three heat after winning one of his three previous starts, and finishing second on the other two occasions – most notably when narrowly denied in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Partnered by Frankie Dettori for trainers John and Thady Gosden, Reach For The Moon settled in behind through the early stages of the seven-furlong contest – but when sent about his business, the response was instant.

Reach For The Moon easily assumed control and was soon clear, with Dettori easing down well before the line to win by four lengths from Great Max.

Coral make him a 14-1 chance from 20s for next year’s Cazoo Derby, while he is the 10-1 joint favourite with his Chesham conqueror Point Lonsdale for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas.

John Gosden said: “They didn’t go much pace, so Frankie thought he would get on with it. He didn’t think he would go to the front that fast and go that far clear.

“He did well as he has learned a lot running up the Sandown hill on his own, but he has shown a bit of class I thought.

“You have got to look towards the autumn and we would like to wind up in one of those nice Group Ones. We will see how he is over the next few days and make our decision.

“He is very progressive and has done everything right. He has developed and strengthened.”

Dettori believes Reach For The Moon is progressing with every outing.

He said: “He was quite babyish at the beginning of his career. He was quite coltish and not concentrating. With racing he is getting better and better and today he stopped his antics a little bit and he was focusing better.

“He has got a good size, a wonderful stride and he has got gears. He is a very exciting prospect.

“I was a bit concerned about the slow pace at the beginning, so I set him for home a long way out. Normally I wouldn’t do that, but I didn’t want to sit and sprint as he is such a big horse.

“He went through the gears and put daylight between them and felt good on top.

“We feel like the more he is racing, the better he is getting, so I suspect you will see him out a couple more times before the end of the season. He is a good size so you would expect him to train on.

“I suspect the Dewhurst could be the plan.”

Reach For The Moon set to star in Solario

Reach For The Moon takes the next small step in his attempt to leap up the racing ladder when he bids for glory in the Betway Solario Stakes at Sandown on Saturday.

The Sea The Stars colt, owned by the Queen and already third-favourite for the 2000 Guineas, has looked a bright prospect with a first career victory at Newbury preceded by an excellent run behind Classic market leader Point Lonsdale in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Reach The Moon had no trouble in beating Harrow by four lengths to open his account – and the runner-up franked the form at York this week.

John Gosden, who trains the youngster with his son, Thady, said: “After Reach For The Moon won his maiden at Newbury we said we would go for the Solario. I’ve been pleased with his preparation and it is always a race that I like to target.

“It is a big step up in class for him, but hopefully he can handle it. The horse that was second to him last time won at York on Thursday and that all helps.

“He is progressive at this stage of his career, but he is still a very young horse and this is another stepping stone. He is a nice looking individual that has made a good start to his career. I thought he quickened well at Newbury and I thought both divisions of the race that day were good.”

Michael Bell is counting on a change of tactics helping first time out Newbury scorer Great Max, who finished one place behind Reach For The Moon in the Chesham Stakes.

“He has got a bit to find with Reach For The Moon, who he finished behind in the Chesham at Royal Ascot. He looks a picture at the moment and hopefully he will give a good account of himself,” said the Newmarket handler.

“He was quite prominent last time in the Superlative Stakes and that probably didn’t help him, but he will be ridden differently this time.”

Andrew Balding believes Star From Afarhh, the sole filly in the field, is more than capable of building on her debut success at Newmarket.

“It is a little bit difficult to know what she beat, but there has already been a couple of winners come out of that race, so the form is working out reasonably well,” said the Kingsclere trainer.

“She is taking on the colts this time, but she is a filly that that has been working well and the seven furlongs at Sandown should suit her. She was very professional and did it well at Newmarket and her home work has improved.”

The Martyn Meade-trained Cresta is expected to give a good account of himself after accounting for the odds-on Modern Games on his debut at Leicester.

Freddie Meade, assistant to his father, said: “We always thought a bit of the horse, he has taken time to come to hand but the last couple of weeks before his run he showed us some good things.

“We were pleased with the way he did it at Leicester, although he did quite a few things the wrong way round. He was slow away and he raced alone in the middle of the track, but the times looked good and he did it nicely.

Cresta (left) makes a winning debut at Leicester
Cresta (left) makes a winning debut at Leicester (David Davies/PA)

“We thought it was worth throwing him in the deep end and see where we go. He probably wants a mile in time, but a stiff seven should be ideal now. Fingers crossed he runs well.”

Atheby may be the only maiden in the field but trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam feels the son of Guitafan could outrun his big price tag.

She said: “He finished third behind a nice Godolphin horse at Chelmsford and he was steaming at home at the finish so the extra furlong should suit. It is a small field and he will be in the hustle and bustle if he jumps well.”

Chapple-Hyam has a leading contender in Saffron Beach as she lines up for the other Group Three race on the card, the Betway Atalanta Stakes.

The New Bay filly has not lived up to the heights of her second in the 1000 Guineas, but she had a legitimate excuse for a below-par effort in the Falmouth Stakes last time.

Saffron Beach has the services of Hollie Doyle in the Atalanta Stakes
Saffron Beach has the services of Hollie Doyle in the Atalanta Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“She scoped dirty after the Falmouth, but she has had a course of antibiotics. We re-scoped her after that and she was clear and she has been clear ever since,” said the Newmarket handler.

“Adam Kirby can’t do the weight and David Egan is at York, but we have managed to secure Hollie Doyle. Hollie came and sat on her on Wednesday and did a strong canter up Long Hill and she loved her.

“I’m happy with the way she has trained and I can’t fault her. I think she will love the stiff finish there. She certainly does deserve more black type.”

Last season’s Group One Fillies’ Mile runner-up Indigo Girl is expected to improve considerably for her comeback fourth at Ascot, according to Gosden senior.

Indigo Girl is expected to improve for her seasonal debut effort
Indigo Girl is expected to improve for her seasonal debut effort (David Davies/PA)

He said: “She has only had the one run this year as she has had a series of niggles that have held her back. Hopefully she will come forward for her first run.

“She over raced a little bit and she didn’t end up seeing it out. She is a strong-willed filly and as long as she puts her best foot forward she has got the ability.”

Balding is hoping Auria can handle the step up in grade as she attempts to follow up her Listed victory over the course and distance last month.

“She is an improving filly and is already a course and distance winner. There is some rain around which will suit her,” he said.

“She will stay further than this in time but she did it well here the last day but this is a much stronger race and it has been the plan since she won here last time.”

Inspiral poised to take next step up the ladder at Doncaster

The May Hill Stakes at Doncaster remains the most likely next objective for 1000 Guineas favourite Inspiral.

Impressive on her racecourse debut at Newmarket at the end of June, the Frankel filly was promoted to the top of ante-post lists for next season’s Rowley Mile Classic after maintaining her unbeaten record in the Star Stakes at Sandown last month.

John Gosden, who trains the Cheveley Park-owned youngster in partnership with son Thady, immediately nominated the Group Two May Hill as a potential aim and connections are happy to aim towards Doncaster’s St Leger meeting in September.

Cheveley Park’s managing director, Chris Richardson, said: “Everyone is very happy with her. John was very pleased, she obviously did it very nicely.

“I haven’t seen her since the race, so hopefully I can get down to the yard shortly.

“The May Hill remains a possible target.”

Inspiral is a general 12-1 shot for the 1000 Guineas next May – and while Richardson is not getting carried away just yet, he admits it is a good position to be in.

“We all have dreams,” he added.

Inspiral is Sandown Star

Inspiral maintained her unbeaten record with a thoroughly impressive display in the British Stallion Studs EBF Star Stakes.

Owned and bred by Cheveley Park Stud, the daughter of Frankel had made a big impression when making a winning start to her career on Newmarket’s July Course last month and was the even-money favourite stepping up to Listed class at Sandown.

Deliberately dropped out last by Frankie Dettori, John and Thady Gosden’s filly looked green once angled wide at the top of the home straight, but it is testament to her latent ability that she made swift progress to move to within striking distance of the leaders.

Once asked to fully extend, Inspiral soon kicked clear and was ultimately good value for the winning margin of three and a half lengths.

The hat-trick seeking Wild Beauty filled the runner-up spot, with the winner’s stablemate Sunstrike just a neck further behind in third.

“She’s always been a classy filly. Her mother (Starscope) was with us and she had a lot of ability – and we know all about the father,” John Gosden told Racing TV.

“She’d done normal work at home on the bridle and won very nicely (at Newmarket). We thought this was the race to come for straight away – a Listed race with level weights, rather than giving away 7lb in a novice.

“They went pretty strong up front. Frankie was out the back and thought ‘I better get a move on’. He came round them and then as he said, he hit the front far too soon. She’s never been in front like that before, so she’s done well.

“She’d shown a lot of ability and I thought she’d enjoy the track here. She’ll have no problem getting a mile.”

Considering future targets, the trainer added: “The May Hill at Doncaster would be an obvious place to go with her. That gives her five to six weeks between races and she has a big frame, so she doesn’t want over-racing this year.”

Paddy Power made Inspiral a 33-1 shot for next year’s 1000 Guineas immediately after the race, but soon trimmed her odds for the Rowley Mile Classic to 16-1.

Almohandesah seeks Listed breakthrough at Sandown

Karl Burke’s Almohandesah will bid for a breakthrough Listed success in the British Stallion Studs EBF Star Stakes at Sandown.

The two-year-old has run twice, finishing second on her debut at Redcar in early June before getting off the mark with a narrow victory at Pontefract last time out.

The daughter of Postponed will step up in both trip and grade as she tackles seven furlongs in Listed company for the first time on Thursday.

“She deserves her chance and she deserves to take a pop at some black type,” said Middleham trainer Burke.

“It looks a tough race for her, but we’re happy with the conditions, and she’s in good form.

“She won’t mind the ground at all, and seven furlongs will definitely suit her.”

Charlie Appleby’s Wild Beauty is bid for a hat-trick, having won at Haydock and Newbury.

Both performances were on soft ground, but Appleby is not concerned about how the Frankel filly will cope with Sandown’s good to firm surface.

“She has progressed on each of her last two starts,” he said.

“We stepped her up in trip last time, and I was very pleased with that performance on soft ground.

“She deserves to take her chance in a black-type race – it is the right race for her, and she will be well suited by the stiff track.

“We’ve got a bit of a wide draw. But there are only nine runners, so I’m not that concerned about that.

“She goes there in great order – but like a lot of them in the field, she will be testing her mettle there.

“The quicker ground doesn’t worry me because the dam’s side of the family go on it – we’ve not encountered quick ground yet, but it doesn’t worry me.”

John and Thady Gosden are set to run two in the race, including the Cheveley Park-owned Inspiral – a winner on her racecourse debut at Newmarket last month.

“She is extremely well bred and ran well first time out under a nice hands-and-heels ride over seven furlongs at Newmarket,” said Thady Gosden.

“On the basis of that, she deserves to go straight into a black-type race. She has got a lovely big stride on her and she will get further in time.

“It’s a stiff seven at Sandown, and hopefully that will suit, while her form was given a good boost after the runner-up in her last race won at Newmarket recently.”

Sunstrike also represents the Gosden stable, having finished eighth in the Group Three Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot on her most recent appearance.

“She seems like she is a top-of-the-ground filly,” said Gosden.

“When we got to Ascot it was when they had that torrential rain, and that didn’t help her, but she still ran respectably in the Albany.

“Hopefully she will be more competitive on the step up to seven furlongs on better ground.”

Charlie Hills runs debut winner Allayaali, who took a Doncaster maiden in June, and Profound Alexander searches a first career victory for William Muir and Chris Grassick.

Mark Johnston will saddle dual winner Qipao, with David Evans’ Fabiosa and Simon and Ed Crisford’s Safra completing the field of nine.

Reach For The Moon makes no mistake at Newbury

Royal Ascot runner-up Reach For The Moon carried the colours of the Queen to an impressive victory in the second race at Newbury on Friday.

Trained by John and Thady Gosden, the son of Sea The Stars came close to providing Her Majesty with a winner at last month’s showpiece meeting – going down by just half a length to Aidan O’Brien’s Point Lonsdale in the Chesham Stakes.

Having also filled the runner-up spot on his racecourse debut at Yarmouth in May, Reach For The Moon was the 2-9 favourite to make it third time lucky in division two of the bet365 EBF Novice Stakes and the result was scarcely in doubt.

Always travelling strongly in the hands of Frankie Dettori, the youngster moved smoothly to the front over a furlong out before rocketing four lengths clear of Harrow.

Gosden senior said: “He was entitled to do that but there was no pace and he quickened well, that will bring him on.

“He’s a grand colt and we’ll look towards the Solario with him now.

“We could have gone straight into another Group race, but you can see he’s quite playful – we’ll leave it at that! To that extent we’ll look for a race in August and the Solario is a nice race.

“He’ll get further. He’ll be comfortable over a mile this year and over middle distances next year because he switched off with no pace today. Frankie wanted to take a lead today.

“In the Chesham there was a strip of ground from his draw in two and I told Frankie to stay straight, so he raced on his own in the Chesham.”

Intelligentsia (5-1) then made a winning debut in the royal colours in the bet365 EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes.

Trained by Richard Hughes, the Exceed And Excel filly showed a smart change of gear for Pat Dobbs and looked home and hosed, only for Majestic Glory to close to within a neck.

“She’d shown plenty. She’s an end of May foal, but we gave her a swing one morning and I liked what I saw, we gave her another and she’s never let me down so we saw no point hanging on,” said Hughes.

“It was important she had a flat track and nice ground. but she’s smart.

“The Dick Poole at Salisbury, something like that in six weeks, I don’t want to rush her.

“Her brother did win over seven but ended up running over five and six, so I don’t want to bring her back to five in case she gets seven, if that makes sense.

“On her pedigree and the speed she shows, if she gets a mile she’s really good.”

The Queen went on to enjoy an across-the-card treble – from her three runners on the day – when Portfolio (9-2) made all in the Rich Energy Fillies’ Handicap at Newmarket.

Ryan Moore dictated affairs from the start on the daughter of Deep Impact, who found more when challenged by Brunnera in the final furlong to score by a length and a half for Sir Michael Stoute’s stable.

Monday Musings: St Mark My Words!

The sports pages yesterday were dominated by a certain football match in Rome and, much earlier on Saturday, the 18-year-old world number 338-rated female tennis player wowing the home crowd at Wimbledon, writes Tony Stafford. At least on a par, ten miles down the A3 in Esher, St Mark’s Basilica was deservedly making his own headlines.

There is winning a Group 1 race, indeed one completed in slower time for the Sandown Park ten furlongs than the two handicaps over that trip on the card, and then there’s winning it like a potential champion.

You can list a big winner’s credentials but when it gets into the top level it is rare to find a horse running past fully tested Group 1 performers in a few strides and drawing away. That is what St Mark’s Basilica did in swamping Mishriff and Addeybb for speed once Ryan Moore unleashed him.

Afterwards there was the inevitable qualifying of the performance, commentators suggesting Addeybb, who battled back to wrest second off Mishriff, and the third horse may have both come to the race a little under-cooked.

Well here’s the rub. Both horses had already won Group 1 races this year, Addeybb continuing his Australian odyssey with another defeat of the brilliant mare Verry Elleegant in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in April while Mishriff earned his owner Prince Abdulrahman Abdullah Faisal just about £10 million when annexing his own country’s Saudi Cup and the Dubai Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup night.

Those wins illustrated his versatility, the former over nine furlongs on dirt and the latter a mile and a half on turf, so Sandown’s mile and a quarter will have fitted comfortably within his parameters.

When Mishriff drew alongside Addeybb in the straight on ground possibly a little less soft than ideal for the leader, he looked set to win, but St Mark’s Basilica was poised in behind in this four-horse field and, when given the signal by Ryan, he sailed serenely clear.

Sandown’s tough uphill conclusion often provides sudden changes in momentum. By the line St Mark’s Basilica was, either from loneliness or simply feeling the effects of the sudden change in velocity that took him clear, definitely if marginally coming back to the rallying Addeybb.

But William Haggas’ seven-year-old is a battle-hardened winner of 12 of 23 career starts. Mishriff, handled skilfully by the Gosdens, has won six of 11, but until Saturday his only defeat in the previous six had been in Addeybb’s Champion Stakes where he appeared not to appreciate the very testing ground.

Saturday’s success makes St Mark’s Basilica the winner of four Group 1 races in succession starting with the Dewhurst. That normally is the race that signals the champion juvenile of his year and then he went on to hoard both French Classics open to males, the Poulains and Jockey Club, where his electric burst heralded the type of performance we saw on Saturday.

In a year where four-fifths of the Aidan O’Brien Classic winners have been four different fillies and none of them Santa Barbara, the fifth has been going a long way to eradicate the overall disappointing showings – so far, and remember it is a long season – of the other colts.

A son of Siyouni – also the sire of Sottsass, the 2020 Arc winner, now standing his first-year stallion duties for €30k a pop at Coolmore Stud – his two French Classic wins made him an obvious object of admiration for French breeders as previously mentioned here.

Unfortunately, their pockets will need to have become much deeper than anticipated with each successive Group 1 victory and if the speed that has characterised all his wins remains or, as is more likely, intensifies with experience, he will easily outstrip his sire’s appeal – and stud fee.

Any thought that he will end up anywhere other than Co Tipperary is fanciful and with all those mares needing partners he will have an enviable stream of potential mates. One slight difficulty is that his dam, Cabaret, is by Galileo.

Cabaret was an unusual product of Galileo on the racetrack, atypically precocious enough to win twice including a Group 3 by mid-July of her two-year-old season but never nearer than seventh in four more races. Sold for £600k at the end of her four-year-old season – double the yearling price at which she joined Coolmore – she has been the dam not only of St Mark’s Basilica but also Aidan O’Brien’s 2,000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia, by Invincible Spirit.

Post-race quotes of 6-4 for the Juddmonte International look just about spot on in a year when you get the impression that Aidan is being more confident in narrowing down his candidates for the biggest races to the single most deserving.

Of course, there’s still Love as a possible for the Juddmonte as she won reverting to ten furlongs at Royal Ascot, but why wouldn’t O’Brien prefer to keep her in her comfort zone for a second Yorkshire Oaks at a mile and a half? Then it is the small matter in three weeks of the King George, for which in a vastly over-round market, Love and the Derby winner Adayar are vying for favouritism at around 2-1 or 9-4, with St Mark’s Basilica moving in close at 4-1 if Aidan wants to stretch him out to 12 furlongs as soon as that.

And what of Snowfall? A 16-length Classic winner is not one to ignore wherever she runs. It’s great having a lot of good horses: the trick is knowing where to run them.

One trainer who never seems to be at a loss in choosing the right target for his equine inmates is William Haggas. With 67 wins from 266 runs, but more pertinently having won with 49 of the 106 individual horses he has run this year, the Newmarket trainer operates at a better than 25% strike rate despite many of his horses having to run in high-class handicaps.

If they sometimes are not raised as rapidly as those of his fellow trainers who might have a much less healthy strike rate, the economy with which they often win is at least a contributary factor.

But they are invariably well bet, so for Haggas to be losing under a fiver to level stakes for those 266 runners is miraculous. I saw Bernard Kantor, a patron of Haggas, again last week and we were musing as to whether his Catterick winner Sans Pretension – remember she was DROPPED 2lb for that! – would ever be reappearing.

The next day, Bernard excitedly told me, “She is in at Yarmouth on Wednesday,” about his Galileo filly. I’m sure he will have seen a later and much more high-profile entry in a fillies’ race at Ascot on Friday. I could be tempted as there’s another horse on the same card I really ought to go to see. I had planned to wait until post July 19, so possibly the King George, but maybe I will try to go this week. I bet Sans Pretension will not be too far away in whichever race the shrewd Mr Haggas decides upon.

There are some jewels that one’s eye will often pass over when looking for something in the Racing Post records. While Haggas has had nine winners from 41 runs in the past fortnight there is another area where he has plenty to prove.

Like Ryan Moore, who won a hurdle race first time on the track for his dad before ever riding on the Flat and who has not revisited that discipline since, Haggas had a go at jumping. I know he had at least one winner over jumps, Fen Terrier on October 20, 1995, at Fakenham, but possibly only one.

The 6-4 second favourite, a daughter of Emerati owned by Jolly Farmer Racing, won narrowly with the 5-4 favourite Dominion’s Dream, trained by Martin Pipe, ten lengths behind in third.

William has had a further seven runners over jumps in the intervening 9,389 days without another win. I wonder if he considers he has something to prove. Probably not!

Another of my favourite meetings will come and go without my attendance this week. Whenever I think of Newmarket July I go back to the day when Hitman broke the track record in the competitive ten-furlong three-year-old handicap for owners the Paper Boys, and Brough Scott insisted I do an interview for the telly.

My then wife was blissfully unaware of my association with the Henry Cecil colt, that was until a colleague on a day off who was interested in racing congratulated her on the win in the office the next morning. Other similar offences were digested and clearly taken into account before the eventual inevitable domestic rupture!

- TS

O’Brien lavish in praise of Eclipse hero St Mark’s Basilica

Given the greats of the Turf Aidan O’Brien has trained in his illustrious career to date, it is probably worth listening when he talks of St Mark’s Basilica in such glowing terms.

One of two three-year-olds in a field of four for the Coral-Eclipse, he arrived with a serious claim for already being the best colt of his generation – possibly in an argument with Jim Bolger’s crack miler Poetic Flare.

However, St Mark’s Basilica had beaten Bolger’s teak-tough colt in the French Guineas and subsequently added the French Derby to the Dewhurst which he won last season, so the only Siyouni colt in O’Brien’s Ballydoyle stable came with a smart CV.

He faced by far his toughest test to date, though, with William Haggas’ Champion Stakes winner Addeybb, a multiple Group One winner in Australia, and John and Thady Gosden’s Mishriff, last year’s French Derby winner who had also won on dirt in Saudi Arabia and the Sheema Classic in Dubai, in opposition.

It was not the fact that St Mark’s Basilica won – in receipt of 10lb many thought he would and he was sent off the even-money favourite. It was more the ease with which he did it, by three and a half lengths and displaying an electric turn of foot that had O’Brien reaching for the superlatives.

Ryan Moore returns victorious aboard St Mark's Basilica
Ryan Moore returns victorious aboard St Mark’s Basilica (Nigel French/PA)

“We came here today taking on two proper older horses, they weren’t middle of the road horses, so it was pressure time as he would have been exposed if he wasn’t very good,” said O’Brien.

“They didn’t go very fast and he gave the two older horses first run, but he quickened up and put it to bed very quickly. He’s just a lovely horse, lovely nature, does everything right and is a true professional. I’m over the moon.”

Ryan Moore had not been on board since his defeat in the National Stakes last year, but had taken advice from his Dewhurst pilot Frankie Dettori and Ioritz Mendizabal, who rode him in France.

“Ryan was confident on him, but that is how Ioritz and Frankie rode him. Ryan spoke to them both and you can ride them like that when they have that change of pace,” said O’Brien.

“It’s what marks out the good horses and the ones who are better than good when they can turn it on like that.

“He’s very relaxed, he’s chilled, he floats along and is very professional. Ryan said today he was quick out but he was relaxed – even though there was no pace he settled.

“With everything about him, he’s always a horse you are confident with going into races. I was thinking about it the other day, it’s a different feeling with that type of horse, you are happy. He relaxes, he quickens, he’s genuine – it’s just a different feeling.

“I wasn’t nervous today, but the only nerves I had was that he had a lot to lose today because if he got beat it would neutralise all the work he had done up to now. He’d won two French Classics and a Dewhurst, so he had a lot to lose.

“We had to step him up somehow and this was the first chance. You can sometimes take on the older horses in this and they wouldn’t be as strong as those two were today – and in slowish ground.”

O’Brien was winning the race for a sixth time having struck with such greats like Giant’s Causeway, Hawk Wing and So You Think. But he believes St Mark’s Basilica might just be a little different.

He said: “Horses come from all angles, but you can only have one of them (top class) every year and if you get one you are very lucky, you can’t expect to get many.

“For all the horses we’ve had down the years I can’t remember we’ve had one like that, we’ve had horses who get into battle and brawl it out but he’s very happy to follow horses and quicken – he puts races to bed very quickly and that’s what he did again today. He’s just a bit different.

“He’d have no problem going back to a mile, and he won the French Derby over 10 and a half furlongs. I’m not sure what the lads (Coolmore) would like to do as we have other horses that can do other things. Ioritz was of the opinion he’d have no problem going further, but it’s up to the lads.”

St Mark’s Basilica was favourite for a Group One as a maiden last season, giving some indication of the regard in which he was held.

“We always thought he was very good, but last year was a mess. I tried to get a run into him before the Heinz (Phoenix Stakes) as I thought he’d win that. I rushed him out to get there,” said O’Brien.

“He ran in a maiden when he should have been having a gallop and ran in the Heinz when he should have been running in a maiden, but even though I was pitching him in he never took a step back.

“The plan was to go to France on Arc day, that got messed up and I just thought it wasn’t meant to be. But then he came and won the Dewhurst. He’s the only Siyouni I’ve ever had.

“He’s a very good horse, I don’t remember coming to an Eclipse as strong as this with a three-year-old before, they were two proper older horses, and he gave them a couple of lengths.

“I spoke to Gary O’Gorman yesterday (Irish handicapper) and he told me what he’d have to do – obviously he’s done that and more.

“The Juddmonte or the Irish Champion – he could do both – are the obvious races. He could do both, but the lads will decide.

“You’ll be nervous running him from now on because he’s turning into a very important horse.”

St Mark’s Basilica brilliant in Eclipse victory

St Mark’s Basilica put up a hugely impressive display to beat top-class older horses Addeybb and Mishriff in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

Winning his fourth successive Group One race, St Mark’s Basilica was giving trainer Aidan O’Brien a sixth Eclipse triumph.

Sent off the well-backed even-money favourite, the three-year-old son of Siyouni powered away from his talented opponents in the final furlong under Ryan Moore.

Tom Marquand had sent Addeybb into the lead straight from the stalls, with Mishriff for close company. St Mark’s Basilica was held up in third, with El Drama last of the four as they travelled in single file.

There was no change in the order until David Egan on Mishriff drew alongside Addeybb and hit the front. It was a short-lived lead, however, as St Mark’s Basilica stormed past the pair and quickly put the race to bed.

He won by three and a half lengths from Addeybb, who rallied past Mishriff to take second place.

O’Brien said: “We couldn’t believe when Ryan asked him to quicken how well he did quicken. He quickens and has a great mind – he does everything.

Celebration time for connections of St Mark's Basilica
Celebration time for connections of St Mark’s Basilica (Nigel French/PA)

“We felt he had stepped up since the last day and Ryan gave him a beautiful ride. I’m delighted for everybody.

“He’s a relaxed traveller and doesn’t use any energy. He comes on slowly and when you go for him he really turns it on. He has the mark of a special horse.”

Asked about targets, the Ballydoyle trainer said: “The lads (Coolmore owners) will decide what they want to do, obviously he’d have options of maybe going to York (Juddmonte International) or Leopardstown (Irish Champion Stakes).

“I’d say something like that, depending on what the lads want to do.

“He’s a horse with a lot of pace and a lot of quality.”

Of Addeybb, a delighted William Haggas said: “It was a fantastic run. He fought hard as usual and he’s a very consistent, genuine horse. When it’s slower ground they don’t quicken like that.

“The winner is obviously a very smart horse, but he fought back to beat Mishriff. It wouldn’t have suited him making the running, either. He needs a good gallop.

“He might go for the King George, but he needs soft ground.”

His rider Tom Marquand added: “He gave everything. He’s an absolute superstar – giving that weight to the best three-year-old in Europe, and probably the world. I’m really pleased with him and he’s pulled up great. No doubt William will have some nice targets for him throughout the rest of the year, and possibly into next year too, knowing him.

“I jumped and rode the race as I saw fit, and he winged the lids and showed willing. I was left alone to find a nice rhythm, and while we haven’t won he’s run a super race. For him on his return that was a big effort.”

Winner of the Saudi Cup and Dubai Sheema Classic, as well as last year’s French Derby, Mishriff could have a rematch with his Sandown conqueror at York.

John Gosden said: “He was just a bit keen early, it was his first run for a while and the ground is soft enough for him. I expect him to come on a good deal for that.

“We will head to the Juddmonte at York next, but the winner was very impressive.”

David Egan was in the saddle on Mishriff and said: “On the ground over the stiff mile and a quarter on what was his first run in Britain he just got tired in that last half a furlong. He has run a good race, but he should come forward for that and progress.

“For sure I think (he has a Group One in Britain in him) as the way he travelled into the race shows how classy he is and there will be more to come.”

Roger Varian, trainer of fourth-placed El Drama, said: “I thought between the two and the one (furlong) we might go and trouble the second and third, and I don’t think he’s quite got home over this stiff 10 (furlongs) on this ground.

“He wasn’t disgraced and he’ll be an interesting horse over an easy 10 or a stiff mile. I’ve nothing in mind, but I’ll speak with the Sheikh (Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum) about which direction we go now. He’s a Listed winner, and after two shots at Group One I should think we’ll look for a Group Three.”

Auria in tune in Distaff at Sandown

Auria looked a filly to follow as she continued trainer Andrew Balding’s fine form with victory in the Coral Distaff at Sandown.

The stable had four winners at Royal Ascot, headed by Coronation Stakes heroine Alcohol Free, and Auria carried on the good work with a clear-cut Listed success over a mile.

Oisin Murphy had the daughter of Muhaarar in the front rank from the outset, before going on as they approached the home turn.

Auria (100-30) quickly went into a handy lead and maintained the gallop to cross the line two and a half lengths clear of Seattle Rock. Glesga Gal was three-quarters of a length away in third place.

Balding said: “She’s a good strong galloper and kept going which is great. She was back in trip, but I think she will stay a mile and a quarter.

“There’s a Group Three back here in August which is the obvious one, but we haven’t ruled out going a bit further in time as well. The ground certainly does not inconvenience her.

“She was due to run in the Musidora, but she reared over saddling and cut her head so she missed a bit of work going into Newbury last time and she wasn’t quite at her best.”

Came From The Dark well and truly out of the shadows

Came From The Dark registered the biggest success of his career as Ed Walker’s grey just got up to deny Arecibo in the Coral Charge at Sandown.

The five-year-old only won one of his five outings last season, but since being gelded he has improved no end.

Unlucky in the Palace House at Newmarket, having won at Newbury before then, Walker had hoped to run him in the King’s Stand Stakes at Ascot after that, but a setback prevented him from doing so.

Instead he lined up in this Group Three and Tom Marquand always looked in control.

While Arecibo hit the front with a furlong to run having taken over from Lazuli, Marquand did not even have to resort to the whip, riding out his mount with just hands and heels to reel in the King’s Stand runner-up and win by a neck at 5-1.

“It was frustrating to miss Ascot, he picked up a niggle after Newmarket but fair play to the team at home and the vets, they gave me the confidence to drive on to today,” said Walker.

“I was gutted to miss the King’s Stand as I think it would have been perfect for him, but it worked out perfectly today and we can go for some nice races later in the year.

“He’s been frustrating until this year, I always felt he was better than he was showing. I think I took a year too long to geld him, that’s been the making of him. It’s all come together this year.

“He loves Haydock, for whatever reason. The easy six suits, so we’ll work back from there (Sprint Cup), but I’m not sure where next. If we go to the Nunthorpe he might get too far out of his ground, so we’ve a bit of head scratching to do.”

The winner was cut to 5-1 from 12s for the King George Stakes at Goodwood by Paddy Power.

Confusion reigns in finish to first race on Eclipse day

There was drama in the opening race on Coral-Eclipse day at Sandown, with a stewards’ inquiry called following a photo-finish.

The judge announced the Jessica Macey-trained Phoenix Star (6-1) as the narrow-margin winner from Hurricane Ivor (11-1), trained by William Haggas, in the Coral ‘Beaten-By-A-Length’ Free Bet Handicap.

However, the stewards called an inquiry before the jockeys had weighed in and, after deliberation, the officials decided it was a dead-heat – even though the mirror image on the print appeared to show Hurricane Ivor had narrowly edged it.

Macey said: “It’s fair to say that was a rollercoaster of emotions, but I’ll take a dead-heat!

“This is by far my biggest winner, I never even thought I’d have a runner on Eclipse day never mind a winner.

“Chris Dwyer is my uncle, I’ve also worked for Charlie Appleby. I’m training out of John Balding’s old yard near Doncaster.

“I’ve about 15 horses, but only six running at the moment with the others youngsters.”

A number of bookmakers announced they would pay out on both horses as the full winners.

Hurricane Ivor was having his second start for Haggas following a move from France, where he had some smart form.

The Newmarket handler said: “In the top picture it looks like we’ve won, but in the bottom picture it looks like a dead-heat.

“The amazing thing is how the judge called the other one the winner. That’s one thing that didn’t happen!

“Hopefully they show everyone what I’ve seen. The third and fourth were the other way round, too.

“It’s pretty difficult, but I won’t be appealing. It’s the original result I’ve a problem with.”

A further inquiry was held into a problem with the mirror image of the photo, after which Shaun Parker, the British Horseracing Authority’s head of stewarding, said: “We knew the result was close and we have procedures in place where photo-finishes are checked by the stewards in the stewards’ room as well.

“We noticed there was a discrepancy between the actual photograph itself and the mirror image. There was a noticeable difference between the two at which he point we asked the judge to have another look to make sure as the mirror appeared to be out.

“At the same time they were looking at the third and fourth place and they had picked up there was a difference there too, but those two places were a lot clearer in terms of where the horses had finished.

“We then went back to the judge and sent the photographs back and the stewards looked at the monitor to see if we could get the result out.

“We couldn’t use the mirror image as there was a slight distortion at the top section of the mirror image. The judge was then not satisfied on the evidence she had on the actual photograph with the noses that she could sufficiently call the result.

“On the image we had we could not clearly say there was one horse was ahead of the other one in terms of the photograph and the fairest result was to declare a dead-heat.

“What we did then was we had an inquiry into why the mirror image did not work. We have compiled a report and that has been forwarded on to the head office of the British Horseracing Authority.”

Marquand went on to complete a 2,015-1 four-timer with victories on Came From The Dark (5-1) for Ed Walker in the Coral Charge, on the Tom Ward-trained Farasi Lane (7-1) in the Play Coral ‘Racing-Super-Series’ For Free Handicap and on Wink Of An Eye (5-2 favourite) in the Coral Backing Prostate Cancer UK Handicap. The latter, owned by the Queen, gave Haggas a double.

Magical Morning sees off Maydanny under Frankie Dettori
Magical Morning sees off Maydanny under Frankie Dettori (Nigel French/PA)

John and Thady Gosden’s Magical Morning was well fancied for the Royal Hunt Cup and while he failed to trouble the judge there his victory in the Coral Challenge suggested more to come.

Frankie Dettori tracked the pace-setting Maydanny until hitting the front inside the final furlong.

Maydanny stuck to his task well, but the 13-2 chance won by three-quarters of a length.

Gosden senior said: “The ground was just too quick for him in the Hunt Cup, which was a shame as that had been the plan since last autumn!

“It was always Plan B to come here, he’s a grand horse and this was a pretty smart handicap.

“He’s in the Golden Mile (at Goodwood), but you couldn’t fancy anything in that until you see the draw.”

The Roger Charlton-trained Makram (3-1 favourite) kept on well after leading over a furlong out in the hands of James Doyle to beat Rhythmic Intent by a length and a quarter in the Coral Proud To Support British Racing Handicap.

Evergreen Euchen Glen sparks Gala celebrations

Euchen Glen bagged his second major prize of the season at Sandown with a clear-cut victory in the Davies Insurance Services Gala Stakes.

A surprise winner of the Group Three Brigadier Gerard Stakes over the course and distance in May, Jim Goldie’s charge had since finished a close-up fifth in the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Conceding 12lb to Ed Dunlop’s promising three-year-old John Leeper, who was last seen finishing ninth in the Derby at Epsom, Euchen Glen (11-4) looked to have his work cut out under Paul Mulrennan, but ultimately got the job done in fine style.

The eight-year-old was settled at the rear of the five-strong field for much of the 10-furlong contest, with the free-going Father Of Jazz setting a furious pace and soon building up a substantial lead.

The latter was still clear rounding the home turn, but predictably faltered halfway up the straight and Euchen Glen powered down the centre of the track to win comfortably by three and a quarter lengths.

Fox Tal filled the runner-up spot, with 5-4 favourite John Leeper ultimately a shade disappointing in third.

Mulrennan said: “He’s just a legend of an old horse, it doesn’t matter what trip. He ran a hell of a race at Royal Ascot.

“I was happy all the way today but I won’t lie, two and a half from home I looked up and he (Father Of Jazz) did look a long way in front

“I was a long way back from a bad draw there otherwise he would have been a lot closer.

“The race fell in his lap today. Jim’s horses this season are flying and I seem to have struck up quite a good rapport with him.

“Jim isn’t afraid to run his horses over 10 furlongs, a mile and a half, two miles and he gives you confidence when you ride for him.

“It’s something they do in Australia quite a bit, but no so much here. I’ve ridden horses here over 10 furlongs that have gone to Australia and won over five furlongs and those that win over seven here can win over two miles over there

“Horses aren’t human, you just need to work out what suits them best and get inside their heads – Jim seems to be doing that at the minute.

“I was happy all the way today but I won’t lie, two-and-a-half from home I looked up and he did look a long way in front. But as soon as I gave him a squeeze I knew he’d pick them up.”

Richard Johnstone, son of owner William Johnstone, said: “He just keeps doing it and we’re delighted.

“On the form, I thought the only danger was John Leeper but the one who made the running did us a favour.

“He can go from the front so we debated that, but the first two or three races Jim spoke to me and said there’s more juice in the ground than people expect and the front-runners weren’t getting there. It was a last-minute decision for us to change tactics.

“With two and a half furlongs to go, I was celebrating. I know the horse and once I saw him progressing, I thought ‘this is it’.

“My father bred him and bred Nicholas T and Sir Chauvelin. He’s had a fantastic time with him and he loves bringing them on as foals.

“His problem in the past has ruled him out of the Melbourne Cup with the new protocols. Jim is hoping to target the Champion Stakes, the 10 furlongs there – Paul says he likes Ascot and hopefully he’ll get some cut in the ground. The next target will be the 12-furlong Group Three (Queen’s Plate) at Glorious Goodwood on the Friday.”