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Sheikh Hamdan lands another Commonwealth Cup

02/07/2018
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INAUGURATED as recently as 2015, the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup provided further glory for Royal Ascot’s most successful trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, when Eqtidaar, like the race’s first winner, Muhaarar, owned by Sheikh Hamdan, landed the 6f dash for 3yos in style. Successful with Poet’s Word and Expert Eye on the Wednesday, the master of Freemason Lodge enjoyed a tremendous week and his winner here struck despite drifting to his left under Jim Crowley’s drive. He passed the post a length ahead of Sands Of Mali who ran a huge race for the Richard Fahey team, comfortably coming out on top in the group who raced close to the standside rail. Emblazoned was third with favourite Sioux Nation the notable disappointment in the race. Stoute, saddling his third winner of the week, said: “We’ve always liked this horse. When he ran here in the Pavilion it didn’t go quite right for him and at Newbury, last time, he was on the wrong side of the track and at halfway he was beaten. He worked very well the other week with Jim Crowley, so we were hopeful. He’s progressing nicely.” Crowley added: “I knew Eqtidaar had potential. He’d been working fantastic at home and I knew today he had a great chance. He’s progressing all the time and I think he’ll keep improving.” Sheikh Hamdan, who also bred the 3yo son of Invincible Spirit, concluded: “This is a good horse but, at this stage at least, not as good as Muhaarar. “However, he has the potential to be very good and he is from a family I know well and improves with racing. “Over the last two weeks this horse has blossomed in his work and we were pretty confident he would finish in the first three.” Interestingly, the dam, Madany, actually has a foal by Muhaarar so that is something exciting to look forward to. 

Persian delivers Old style punch

Old Persian continued a golden run for William Buick and Charlie Appleby by landing the King Edward VII Stakes. This success followed hot on the heels of Masar’s win in the Derby and Blue Point’s triumph in the King’s Stand and the Godolphin team have another exciting prospect on their hands in this son of Dubawi. He tracked leader Raa Atoll for much of this Group Two contest before striking for home shortly after turning in. The Ballydoyle battalion set sail after him but neither Rostropovich or Giuseppe Garibaldi could get to the leader and had to settle for the minor placings. Appleby said: “Last season we had a great team of 2yos. They all wintered well and came into the spring in great nick. "This horse has done nothing but progress through the spring. Will made a great manoeuvre after the first two or three furlongs to sit on Frankie Dettori and Raa Atoll’s quarters and once he hit the front I was confident he would see it out well. “I’m delighted for the team. We’ll enjoy today and regroup over the next week or two.” Buick added: “They went very slow but I moved into position at halfway because I knew my horse would benefit from the extra two furlongs and I wanted to be in a position where I could do something about it. The last furlong was his strongest, so I was very pleased with his performance.”

Centauri proves herself Alpha 3yo filly

Alpha Centauri provided Jessica Harrington with a first Royal Ascot success after a brilliant victory in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes. Harrington, 71, has won many of jump racing’s biggest prizes, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle and Queen Mother Champion Chase, but was still seeking a first triumph at the showpiece fixture of the Flat season. Alpha Centauri brought strong claims to the table after claiming Classic glory in the Irish 1000 Guineas and was favourite to follow up in the hands of Colm O’Donoghue, ultimately proving far too good in what had appeared a strong renewal of the mile race restricted to 3yo fillies. Veracious and Aim Of Artemis led the field into the home straight, but Alpha Centauri soon loomed up ominously. Once given her head, the Irish challenger bounded clear for a hugely impressive six length verdict in a course record time, with Threading coming through to beat Veracious to the runner-up spot. Richard Hannon’s shock Newmarket Guineas heroine Billesdon Brook was a creditable fourth, but Teppal, winner of the French Guineas for David Simcock, finished down the field. Harrington said: “She was absolutely amazing. I thought when Colm turned in ‘jeepers, he’s gone very soon’, but the further he went the further he was going away. I couldn’t believe it. “She’s a very big filly and on soft ground, she physically can’t get her feet out of it. She just floats on that top of the ground. “I have a lot of people behind me and a lot of very nice owners who give me nice horses. “I’ve had Ascot winners, but I’ve never had a Royal Ascot winner and it’s absolutely fantastic.”

Doyle Main man in latest Albany Edition

Main Edition, ridden by James Doyle and trained by Mark Johnston, won the Albany Stakes for owner Saif Ali. American speedball Stillwater Cove set a ferocious gallop towards the far side rail and those drawn low appeared to hold the advantage as Fairyland struck the front with a furlong and a half to travel. She still led into the final furlong but Main Edition and Godolphin filly La Pelosa were finishing with a rattle down the middle of the track and it was Johnston’s charge who claimed a hard fought, neck victory. Fairyland had to settle for third, a further half length back, while her stablemate Just Wonderful was the disappointing favourite under Ryan Moore. Johnston said: “We came here knowing that she was pretty useful after two runs and two wins. We think our team of 2yo fillies this year is very strong and this was one of the leading bunch. It’s great for her and it says a lot for all the others as well. “There are lots of good 2yo races to go yet this season, but we’ll work back from the Cheveley Park. That said, James said she’d get seven furlongs no problem so we’ll have to think about that too.” Doyle added: “I went up where the carriages went down earlier where I found myself, it must be slightly quicker but I had nothing to race with and she was such a willing partner.”

Agrotera awesome

Agrotera, homebred by Bjorn Nielsen, blew apart a competitive looking renewal of the Sandringham Handicap for trainer Ed Walker and won in the manner of a very smart filly. Settled in the rear in the early stages, jockey Jamie Spencer cut a motionless figure for much of the mile contest before Agrotera began to scythe through the pack with a couple of furlongs to run. Despite edging slightly to her left as she burst to the front inside the final furlong, Agrotera had plenty left in the tank and pulled almost three lengths clear of Ortiz with Escape The City a further length back in third. Spencer said: “Bjorn told me before the race Agrotera was working to between 110 and 115. Maths was never my strong suit at school and it was at about the two pole that I worked out how much I had in hand. Almost two stone!” Walker, in his eighth full season with a licence but his first back in Lambourn in the Kingsdown Stables owned by Nielsen, added: “A Group One winner and a Royal Ascot winner were the main goals this season so it is just epic. “It’s been a tough two weeks as we’ve been hitting the crossbar but not had a winner from 30 odd runners. It doesn’t do your confidence much good, but we knew we had a very, very good filly and we knew she was on a good mark. She proved that today and she won’t be running in another handicap.”

Spice shows plenty of Dash

David Elsworth and Silvestre de Sousa combined to land the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes with Dash Of Spice. The 4yo was favourite to follow up his emphatic victory at Epsom on Derby day three weeks earlier and was well positioned throughout under the Champion Jockey. De Sousa had made his challenge wide at the top of the home straight, but Dash Of Spice found plenty for pressure in the final furlong and ultimately won with something to spare. 

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27 Sep 2018
Issue Number: Issue 648
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