The first of the three-day meeting’s big prizes, the Weatherbys ePassport Cheshire Oaks (For The Robert Sangster Memorial Cup) went to Mark Johnston’s Dubai Fountain under Franny Norton. Despite going off favourite the punters weren’t too keen on the filly, she drifted from 11/8 to 13/8 in the live betting.
The market got it wrong though, she was just pushed out to win by a comfortable length. The winning rider said that ‘I didn’t find a rhythm straight away, but I was happy with where I was. Then I just felt it was all a bit stop-start.’ He added, ‘Going down the gears and back up didn’t suit her, but once I revved her up three out it was game over. I could feel one coming, so she just needed a couple of flicks to keep her going.’
She is now a best-priced 14/1 chance for the Oaks at Epsom on June 4th.
‘Andrew has always thought a lot of him and today has shown what we wanted to find out. I’m sure the owner will be looking forward to a runner in the Derby so I’d be amazed if he didn’t show up at Epsom’.
His jockey gave punters who might have taken the 25/1 best priced quoted for the Derby hope by saying
‘The one question he had to answer was the trip, but you’d have to say he hit the line extremely well. It was a muddling race, but he’ll stay in an honest-run race as well.’
There was a shock of sorts in the rather up for debatably titled tote+ Biggest Dividends At tote.co.uk Dee Stakes when Roger Varian’s 12/1 chance El Drama took the race by the scruff of the neck three out under Andrea Atzeni and was still a length clear at the line. The trainer explained
‘Because he only ran once at two there were limited options trying to get experience into him. He ran over seven furlongs at Lingfield and a mile at Kempton, which would not be ideal spots for him. He ran with credit, but always looked a better horse on turf.’
The bookmakers made the colt’s a 33/1 chance for the Derby but punters considering get involved at double carpet should be aware that the trainer added,
‘Having spoken to Sheikh Obaid, all options are open, and he’d like him to be considered for the Prix du Jockey Club.’
Aidan O’Brien’s Japan bounced back to form winning the tote+ Pays You More At tote.co.uk Ormonde Stakes under Ryan Moore. Backed from 15/8 into 13/8 and winning by three-quarters of a length from 9/4 second-in Trueshan, it appeared the win wasn’t unexpected. Ryan Moore told reporters,
‘He’s a beautiful horse who we’ve always held in high regard, and he’s won a Juddmonte. Hopefully that will give him a bit of confidence. He didn’t really enjoy that dead ground. He’s a lovely looking horse with a great mind and hopefully he can go on from here.’
The same team hit paydirt again on Friday when they teamed up to take the Melodi Media Huxley Stakes (Group 2) on 6/5 favourite Armory. Talking to Luke Harvey on ITV Racing the winning jockey said that his mount is ‘a very talented colt with a lethal turn of foot’, he added that he’ run on ground too soft in the past. He concluded that ‘today they went a steady pace, had a good change of gear and accelerated really well’.
Falcon Eight won the feature tote+ Chester Cup Handicap under Frankie Dettori for Dermot Weld under top weight of 9st 10lb. The six-year-old came late and fast around the wide outside to win going away. It was 30 years ago that the rider last won the Chester Cup, on Star Player. The ever-exuberant jockey said after the race:
‘They went fast but that suited me, I was further back than I wanted to be, but I slingshot around the back and won’.
He added that they had targeted the race, they had been worried that the ground was too soft, but it dried up a bit. The self-proclaimed ‘oldie’ won again and celebrated as last week with ‘Come on the Oldies’.
Aye Aye Frankie!