Unequal Love claims Listed honours at Newmarket

William Haggas is excited to see how high Unequal Love can climb in the sprinting ranks after making a successful start to her campaign in the William Hill British EBF Ellen Chaloner Stakes at Newmarket.

The daughter of Dutch Art won four of her seven starts as a three-year-old last season and rounded off her campaign with a fourth-placed finish behind the reopposing Funny Story in the Boadicea Stakes over the course and distance in October.

With both fillies having been off the track since, Funny Story was preferred in the market at 11-4, but 4-1 shot Unequal Love took her revenge with a one-length victory in the hands of Tom Marquand. Star Guest, the 2-1 favourite, was just a head further behind in third.

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Haggas said: “We were getting 3lb from Ralph Beckett’s filly (Funny Story) for a start, but she’s improved physically, so I hope she’ll have a good season.

“I think Tom wanted to wait a bit longer, but Rossa (Ryan, rider of Funny Story) was looking like trying to box him in with a good bit of race riding and that forced Tom to go a bit earlier than he wanted, but she stayed on well up the hill.

“I don’t think she wants the ground too firm or too soft.”

Unequal Love (right) in front of the Newmarket grandstand
Unequal Love (right) in front of the Newmarket grandstand (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Unequal Love holds an entry in the Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh on May 25 and Haggas confirmed that Group Two contest as an intended target.

“It’s Irish 2,000 Guineas day I think in Ireland and it’s a Group Two race against the boys, but there’s no point putting her in and not running,” the trainer added.

“She’s got her black type now, so it’s onwards and upwards.”

Desert Cop bounced back to form to secure top honours in the William Hill Extra Place Races Handicap for trainer Andrew Balding, owner Jeff Smith and jockey Oisin Murphy.

Desert Cop with connections at Newmarket
Desert Cop with connections at Newmarket (Bradley Collyer/PA)

The four-year-old won on All-Weather Championships Finals Day last year before going on to finish second to subsequent dual Group One winner Shaquille in Listed company.

Having failed to trouble the judge in six starts since, Desert Cop was a 22-1 shot for his four-year-old debut, but proved he retains plenty of ability with a one-length verdict over Apollo One.

“It’s a big weekend for Jeff and we thought this might be a little bit of an appetiser, but it’s worked out well,” said Balding.

“He had some very good form last year and on the best of his form he was certainly overpriced, things worked out well for him today and hopefully we can get him in the Wokingham (at Royal Ascot) now.”

Liberty Lane put Lincoln disappointment behind him in the William Hill Suffolk Stakes.

Karl Burke’s charge was among the leading fancies for the traditional Flat season curtain-raiser at Doncaster in March and while he trailed home 13th of 20 runners, he showed his true colours on the Rowley Mile with a 9-1 victory in the hands of Clifford Lee.

“He came back sick from the Lincoln, he scoped very dirty afterwards and was a sick horse for three or four weeks afterwards,” said Burke.

“The only reason I ran him today was because Sheikh Obaid (owner) was here and it was a £100,000 race, we’d entered early and he was just coming back to himself.

“It’s a pleasant surprise, I thought he’d run well but I didn’t expect that.”

David Egan after winning the William Hill Epic Boost Handicap aboard Maxi King
David Egan after winning the William Hill Epic Boost Handicap aboard Maxi King (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Maxi King took top honours in the William Hill Epic Boost Handicap for David Egan and Dominic Ffrench Davis.

The four-year-old was a 6-1 chance for the 12-furlong contest having come back from a long absence to win by five lengths at Ripon last time out and he added to that in seeing off 7-2 favourite Real Dream by a length and a quarter.

“I didn’t ride him at Ripon but I was really impressed with that, the team always held him in high regard and he wintered very well,” said Egan.

“They expected him to get the job done at Ripon but sometimes after such a long lay-off, horses can bounce.

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“He went up 10lb for his win at Ripon because he hacked up, that’s probably as quick as he’d want the ground and I don’t think he’d be a quick ground horse.

“He showed a lot of class to take me into the race the way he did and I felt when the second horse came to me, it almost helped him.

“He galloped all the way up to the top of the hill, for a horse stepping up to a mile and a half, it shows he stayed.”

The William Hill Bet In-Running Handicap then went the way of James’s Delight (16-1) for Richard Kingscote and Clive Cox.

“He won very impressively at Pontefract first time out this year and took a fair hike in the handicap for that success,” said Cox.

“We always felt he might get seven, he loves the soft ground and we ran him in the Greenham which was too ambitious.

“Dropping back to six, he’s a proper sprinter and the ground is nice here today.

“He just powers up that hill, he’s very honest and genuine and I’m thrilled for Paul and Clare Rooney.”

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