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Angel Bleu and Kinross make it an opening day to remember for Ralph Beckett at Goodwood

Angel Bleu and Kinross provided trainer Ralph Beckett and owner Marc Chan with a Group Two double on the opening afternoon of the Qatar Goodwood Festival.

Turning out just three days after filling the runner-up spot in the Listed Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot, Angel Bleu was sent off at 100-30 for the Unibet Vintage Stakes under Frankie Dettori.

The Dark Angel colt sweated up on the way to post and raced enthusiastically for much of the race, but still managed to quicken up smartly in the rain-softened ground once popped the question by his rider.

He did hang quite badly right when delivering his challenge, interfering with The Acropolis in the process.

But while the previously-unbeaten Coventry Stakes winner Berkshire Shadow (13-8 favourite) was doing his best work at the finish, Angel Bleu had enough in reserve to hold him at bay by three-quarters of a length.

Beckett said: “Frankie got off him on Saturday and said ‘he’s been busy, give him a break’, so I thought we should leave him alone.

“(But) I fed him on Sunday and I looked at him sideways and thought ‘you don’t look like you’ve had a hard race to me at all’.

“I jogged him up, and he bounced up the yard – Marc Chan’s racing manager called me up and said ‘why don’t we geld him now and send him to Hong Kong in the autumn, he can go there and have a good time?’ – he was a little surprised when it rained and we decided to declare him!

“If we hadn’t declared and the field had fallen apart like this, I’d have been really, really cross with myself. With the rain last night, I could hardly believe my luck.

“He likes a bit of juice and he likes soft ground – we’ll think about the Dewhurst now I should think.”

Dettori added: “Horses make a fool of you, but a combination of running round the turn, soft ground and being good on the way to post made a difference. He loved it.”

Of the Andrew Balding-trained Berkshire Shadow, rider Oisin Murphy said: “Off a slow pace he relaxed very well, but took a while to get going. When I gave him a kick he stayed on well and hit the line hard.

“I think he needs another furlong, because he saw out the trip really well.”

Ralph Beckett at Goodwood
Ralph Beckett at Goodwood (John Walton/PA)

Little more than half an hour later Angel Bleu’s stablemate Kinross carried the Chan colours to victory in the Unibet Lennox Stakes.

Off the track since winning the John Of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock at the end of May, the 6-1 shot powered through in the final furlong under Rossa Ryan to deny 2-1 favourite Creative Force by a neck – with Happy Power and last year’s winner Space Blues close up in third and fourth.

Beckett said of his second big-race winner: “He shot through the gap two (furlongs) down and he sort of floated home in the last furlong.

“I was really keen that Rossa rode him absolutely cold today, and it’s panned out perfectly – as it can do sometimes.

“I was a bit worried he was getting into a row with Danny Tudhope at the top of the hill – I thought we were going to be shoved down on the fence, but it opened up and all was well.”

Kinross has realised his previous potential this season, with two Group-race wins in as many starts since being gelded in March.

Beckett added: “He’s not been a difficult for to train – he’s just been a difficult horse to read.

“I felt last year that I was always trying to get him ready, but I didn’t bother getting him ready for Kempton (last November) – I just got him there in reasonable shape when he won the Hyde Stakes.

“Taking him to Dubai (then) seemed like a good decision at the time – but that didn’t work.

“He was enjoying himself too much, enjoying his holidays – so gelding him was a good idea and sticking to this ground was a good idea.

“The form book doesn’t lie – his mother was very good on soft ground, and we’ll be sticking to good or soft from now on.

“He’ll definitely go up in grade. He’s in the (Prix) Maurice de Gheest, and the (Prix de la) Foret is a race I’ve always thought would suit him – so I think we’ll work back from that.”

Ryan voiced his gratitude to Beckett for the opportunity.

“I was pretty shocked to see myself booked to ride,” he said.

“But Ralph has shown in recent years that he’s never afraid to give lads a chance. That’s what he’s done, and I’m very thankful.”

Charlie Appleby was not too downcast over Creative Force and Space Blues.

The Godolphin trainer said: “Both horses ran well, but unfortunately as far as William’s (Buick) horse (Space Blues) is concerned it was not the strongest-run race and he said they were always picking up at a crucial point. I think we will look to the Hungerford in a couple of weeks.

“It was another solid run from Creative Force. He was going forward right to the line having travelled very well. We might contemplate bringing him back (in trip) for the Maurice de Gheest, but I’m just as keen to give him a break before heading to Haydock (for the Sprint Cup).”

Angel heaven sent for Dettori and Beckett

A quick reappearance proved no barrier to success for Angel Bleu, as Frankie Dettori steered Ralph Beckett’s colt to victory in the Unibet Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.

Runner-up in the Listed Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot on Saturday, the Dark Angel youngster was sent off at 100-30 to go one better in this Group Three contest just three days later.

Having sweated up on the way to post, Angel Bleu raced enthusiastically for much of the race, but quickened up smartly in the rain-softened ground once popped the question by Dettori.

He did hang quite badly rightly when delivering his challenge, interfering with The Acropolis in the process.

The previously-unbeaten Coventry Stakes winner Berkshire Shadow (13-8 favourite) was doing his best work at the finish, but Angel Bleu had enough in reserve to hold him at bay by three-quarters of a length.

Beckett said: “Frankie got off him on Saturday and said ‘he’s been busy, give him a break’, so I thought we should leave him alone.

“(But) I fed him on Sunday and I looked at him sideways and thought ‘you don’t look like you’ve had a hard race to me at all’.

“I jogged him up and he bounced up the yard, (owner) Marc Chan’s racing manager called me up and said ‘why don’t we geld him now and send him to Hong Kong in the autumn, he can go there and have a good time’ – he was a little surprised when it rained and we decided to declare him!

“If we hadn’t declared and the field had fallen apart like this, I’d have been really, really cross with myself. With the rain last night I could hardly believe my luck.”

“He like a bit of juice and he likes soft ground, we’ll think about the Dewhurst now I should think.”

Of the Andrew Balding-trained Berkshire Shadow, rider Oisin Murphy said: “Off a slow pace he relaxed very well, but took a while to get going. When I gave him a kick he stayed on well and hit the line hard.

“I think he needs another furlong, as he saw out the trip really well.”

Berkshire Shadow seeking Vintage victory on day one at Goodwood

Royal Ascot hero Berkshire Shadow puts his unbeaten record and tall reputation on the line in the Unibet Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.

A narrow winner on his racecourse debut at Newbury in the spring, Andrew Balding’s juvenile successfully stepped up to Group Two level on just his second career start when running out an impressive winner of the Coventry Stakes.

The Dark Angel colt moves up to seven furlongs for his latest assignment on Tuesday, with the rain-softened ground on the Sussex Downs his trainer’s only concern.

Balding said: “The likelihood is he’s going to encounter different ground conditions to what he did at Ascot, which is an unknown, but I’m very happy with the horse – and I think the extra furlong will suit him well.

“It was a very good performance in the Coventry, and likewise first time out he was very impressive.

“He’s obviously a horse with a huge amount of talent. It was always the intention to step up to seven furlongs after Ascot, and I hope if he handles the ground he’ll go very well.”

Berkshire Shadow’s biggest threat appeared to be the Richard Hannon-trained Lusail – but that rival was ruled out when the going turned heavy after an overnight thunderstorm.

Hannon will therefore rely on outsider Secret Strength, of whom he said: “(He) is no mug. He’s got plenty of ability, and if he goes in the ground he could run a big race.”

Eldrickjones (black and white colours) was not far behind Berkshire Shadow at Ascot
Eldrickjones (black and white colours) was not far behind Berkshire Shadow at Ascot (David Davies/PA)

The Nick Bradley Racing-owned Eldrickjones has ground to make up on Berkshire Shadow, having filled the runner-up spot in the Coventry.

“I’d be hopeful we could at least finish a bit closer to Berkshire Shadow, based on the fact I think we were on a less favoured part of the track than the winner at Ascot,” said Bradley.

“I think the step up to seven furlongs will be a help for us, and probably a help for him as well.

“With horses like this, there’s only so many races you can go for – and I’ve had this race in mind for some time for our horse.”

Aidan O’Brien’s The Acropolis, the Ralph Beckett-trained Angel Bleu and Austrian Theory from Mark Johnston’s yard complete the line-up.