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Probert looking to Sandrine to extend his winning streak

David Probert bids to continue his sensational run of form with victory aboard the unbeaten Sandrine in the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes at York on Thursday.

It has been quite a week for the Welsh-born rider, having claimed his 100th winner of 2021 aboard Typewriter at Nottingham on Tuesday before riding a remarkable five-timer back on home soil at Ffos Las the following evening.

Probert returned to the Welsh circuit to ride a treble on Thursday before a double at Newbury on Friday made it 10 winners in three days.

His tally of 110 for the year is just two short of the personal best he achieved in 2019, while he sits fourth in the Flat Jockeys’ Championship table with 65 winners since the season began at the start of May.

“It’s been a great week,” said Probert.

“Ffos Las is a lovely course and it was great to do it back home at a Welsh track like that.

“Everything kind of fell right. I knew I had some nice rides going to the meeting and everything fell into place.”

By his own admission, Probert was not an overnight success, having to work hard for opportunities after progressing from riding ponies in Wales to joining Andrew Balding’s yard as a teenager.

Andrew Balding with David Probert
Andrew Balding with David Probert (Bill Selwyn/PA)

He said: “My father had horses and had two ponies for myself and my sister Laura, who works for Charlie Appleby in Newmarket.

“We enjoyed riding the ponies early on and were lucky enough to do some pony racing at the local Welsh tracks and the flapping tracks at young ages and picked up a bit of experience doing that.

“At the age of 16, I then went to the Racing School in Newmarket on a nine-week course and was then allocated to Andrew Balding’s yard.

“I started there at the age of 17 and by the time I was 18 he applied for my licence. It took me a while to get rolling and get my first winner and make things work, but from 2008 everything started moving pretty well.

“It’s been hard to work to get to where I am right now, but things have progressed nicely and over the last year I’ve had some nice chances, so hopefully we’re getting there.”

The star horse of the year for Probert has been the Balding-trained Sandrine, whom he steered to a debut success at Kempton before partnering her to win both the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket.

The rider is thankful to both Balding and Sandrine’s owner-breeder Kirsten Rausing for keeping faith in him when dual champion jockey Oisin Murphy, who also rides regularly for the Kingsclere handler, could easily have been called up.

“I know exactly how hard this industry can be and it’s all about being in favour,” said Probert.

“Oisin has been champion jockey for the last two years and because he’s part of the yard it’s easy to look at him for the rides.

“I’m very grateful that I get the opportunities that I do get – to get on this very special filly and to be stuck by and have the faith in me to ride a filly of her class, I’m very grateful.

“It’s a bit demoralising at times (losing rides), I’m not going to lie, but that’s racing for you.

“They (owners) are looking for the best results and when you can get a jockey with better stats, you’re going to look elsewhere.

“It’s all about having a chance and it’s nice to have someone that believes in you.”

Sandrine is likely to be a hot favourite to make it four from four on the Knavesmire.

The daughter of Bobby’s Kitten will have to concede 3lb to each of her rivals, but having proved herself on heavy ground at Ascot and good to firm on the July course, Probert is expecting her to be hard to beat.

Sandrine winning at Newmarket
Sandrine winning at Newmarket (Tim Goode/PA)

He said: “She’s quite a light filly and I didn’t know how she was going to handle the ground at Ascot, but pure ability got her through.

“She had to prove herself then at Newmarket on faster conditions and pretty much did it the hard way as she was away from the field and I had to challenge wide.

“I had a sit on her last week and she seems in great form. She loves her work and loves going out with the string – she has no downfalls.

“Obviously she’ll have to carry a penalty in the Lowther, but she’s a classy filly and looks the best one in the race.

“Fingers crossed, she’ll give a good account of herself.”

Sandrine set for Lowther spin ahead of Cheveley Park aim

Sandrine is set put her unbeaten record on the line in the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes at York on August 19.

Andrew Balding’s filly has been thoroughly impressive in winning each of her three starts to date – progressing from a Kempton maiden success to landing the Albany at Royal Ascot and the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket.

A step up to Group One level for next month’s Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes is firmly on the agenda, but Balding is keen to first give her another outing in Group Two company on the Knavesmire.

“Sandrine looks very good and I’ve been thrilled with her last two runs. She will probably run in the Lowther next, then all eyes will be on the Cheveley Park,” said the Kingsclere handler.

“She will carry a penalty (at York), but we didn’t want to wait until Newmarket to run her again.

“She seems to be very versatile ground-wise. She is a very smart filly and is an absolute pleasure to train.

“I think her two Group wins were equally as impressive as they were under very different conditions. It was nice to see her do it on the quick ground in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes and prove she is not a one-trick pony.”

Berkshire Shadow winning the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot
Berkshire Shadow winning the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot (Steven Paston/PA)

Two other horses Balding hopes will contest some of the major juvenile races during the Gold Season on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile this autumn are Berkshire Shadow and Majestic Glory.

Berkshire Shadow, who won the Coventry Stakes at the Royal meeting before finishing second in Goodwood’s Vintage Stakes, is under consideration for both the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes on September 25 and the Darley Dewhurst on October 9.

Last weekend’s Sweet Solera heroine Majestic Glory, meanwhile, looks a likely candidate for the bet365 Fillies’ Mile on October 8.

Balding added: “Berkshire Shadow got a little bit lost in the ground in the Vintage before he got his act together in the last half a furlong.

“We might drop him back to six furlongs and look at the Gimcrack at York before looking at options like the Middle Park or the Dewhurst in the autumn.

“He is a very talented horse and if he encountered soft ground again, I imagine he would perform better on it now having raced on it.

“It was a very good performance that Majestic Glory put up in the Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday and her breeding suggests she should stay further than seven furlongs.

“She showed there she has a great attitude and she is very likeable.”

Sandrine puts down Classic marker with Newmarket victory

Sandrine looked a filly right out of the top drawer when following up her Royal Ascot victory in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket.

Andrew Balding’s youngster caused something of a surprise when winning the Albany Stakes at 16-1 last month on soft ground – but she was even more impressive on this occasion on a quicker surface.

In taking her career record to three from three, Sandrine was given quotes around the 16-1 mark for next year’s 1000 Guineas – with Coral making her their 14-1 favourite.

Like at Ascot ridden by David Probert, the daughter of Bobby’s Kitten raced on the far side group, tracking Ellade on Hello You.

When the field bunched up with just over a furlong to go, Sandrine quickly shot clear and put the race to bed in a matter of strides.

Desert Dreamer made up plenty of ground from the rear to chase her home, but was beaten a length and three-quarters by the 11-5 favourite. Hello You was third, having been second to the winner at Ascot.

Balding said: “That was very good. She got a little bit lonely in front, I think, but she’s got a lot of ability, which is exciting.

“She’s so relaxed, which I hope bodes well for her chances of staying a mile next year.

“She’s got physical scope – she’s not a compact, two-year-old type. She’s got a bit more length and depth to her, I think. Hopefully she’ll make up into a nice three-year-old.

“It’s good she’s proved Royal Ascot wasn’t a fluke. There was a little bit of nerves going into this as she’d looked so good at Ascot and it’s nice to see that confirmed on different going today.”

Asked about future plans for the Kirsten Rausing-owned winner, Balding said: “We’ve loosely discussed it. I don’t really want to travel her at this stage and the only Group One options are in France and Ireland.

“I think we’ll just have to sit it out, give her a little break and try to gear her up for the Cheveley Park.”

Probert said: “She had to prove herself on that quick ground today, but she travelled great, she’s got a great temperament and was in a great rhythm throughout the race.

“When we split away from the main pack, I was lucky enough to be able to follow the Ralph Beckett filly (Hello You) through into the race – and when the pace lifted, she’s done it with such ease and found many lengths.

“She hit the rising ground really well and galloped out. It took me a while to pull her up, so it’s not out of the question that she could stay further.

“She’s very exciting. I haven’t had a Group One winner in this country yet – hopefully she could be it.”

Of Desert Dreamer, trainer Stuart Williams said: “I’m very pleased with her. It was slightly unfortunate that the winner was on the other side of the track.

“If we could have followed the winner through we might have given it a better race, but the winner is a high-class filly and we are improving. I’m delighted with the filly and with Oisin’s (Murphy) ride. We live to fight another day.

“She has got a good turn of foot and she is settling very well, so I’m very pleased with her.”

He added: “I will probably head to the Lowther (at York) now, where the winner would have a penalty if she wanted to take us on again. I think that is probably the logical route.”

Balding considers plans for winning Ascot juveniles

Andrew Balding will take his time as he plots the next targets for his unbeaten Royal Ascot two-year-old winners Berkshire Shadow and Sandrine.

Berkshire Shadow confirmed himself a very exciting prospect when backing up his Newbury debut win with a Group Two success in the Coventry Stakes on Tuesday.

“Berkshire Shadow has come out of his race well,” said Balding.

“He’s obviously a smart horse. I’ve no fixed plans at the moment.”

Sandrine also followed up her successful debut, at Kempton in her case, when winning the Group Three Albany Stakes on Friday.

“Sandrine did it nicely. There was no fluke about it,” said the Kingsclere trainer.

“I thought she was impressive. I haven’t given much thought to what next for her.

“We’re blessed to have two horses like that in the yard.”

Sandrine rules supreme in Albany Stakes

Sandrine maintained her unbeaten record in the Albany Stakes to provide Andrew Balding with his second two-year-old winner of the week at Royal Ascot.

In very contrasting conditions to the first three days of the meeting, the ground had turned extremely testing and the fixture had to survive a lengthy inspection before being given the go-ahead.

Running in the famous Kirsten Rausing colours, Sandrine is by the American sire Bobby’s Kitten so it was a surprise how well she handled the deep ground.

A winner on the all-weather on her debut, Sandrine was sent off a 16-1 chance but she stayed on powerfully under David Probert.

The majority of the field stayed down the middle of the track with only Oscula and Hellomydarlin staying on the rail, and with a furlong to run Oscula – who was third to the winner first time out – still held every chance.

But Sandrine took up the running from Hello You inside the final furlong to come away and win by a length and a half, with Oscula back in third.

Probert said: “She was super fit and hardy for an inexperienced filly, and quite relaxed in the early stages which helped her for the finish.

“We had such a deluge, the ground is loose and they are galloping through it.”

Balding won the Coventry Stakes on Tuesday with Berkshire Shadow.

The Kingslcere trainer said: “I felt it was sure to be off driving here – we were only coming because we were having lunch, I thought it was certain to be abandoned!

“But I’m so pleased for Kirsten and all the team at Lanwades who are great supporters, she thoroughly deserves a win like this.

“She was impressive when she won, we thought it was a low-class race at Kempton, but the form worked out well.

“She worked well last week and we felt we were entitled to run. We were a bit concerned about the ground because there were mixed messages in the pedigree, but Kirsten told me Bobby’s Kitten only raced in Ireland on soft ground, so it was worth a go and David gave her a beautiful ride.

“She did it nicely today, there was no fluke about it. She travelled liked the best horse in the race and I thought she was impressive.”

Of Hello You, trainer Ralph Beckett said: “She hit the boxes and was quite free, but she saw it out well.

“Her programme will speak for itself with the likes of the Cherry Hinton and the Lowther amongst possible targets.”