Last Empire sprang a surprise in the Group Three Whispering Angel Oak Tree Stakes at Goodwood on Wednesday. Kevin Ryan’s five-year-old charge was half a length too good for Onassis at the line under Daniel Tudhope with 9/2 chance Highfield Princess a further neck away back in third. The 10/3 favourite Bounce The Blues was back in eighth having taken a keen hold early on.
Kevin Ryan told reporters ‘I spoke to Steve Parkin this morning and he was very confident that Last Empire would get the trip. If you are going to get it, you are going to get it around here. Last Empire loves soft ground and, although her last run was very disappointing, she came back very heavily in season, so we brought her back, got her nice and fresh, and started again. She looked great again today and Danny gave her a great ride. When you have a good draw here, you have to keep it and you have to believe they are going to get the trip, you can’t ride them without doubt’.
The winning jockey added ‘Maybe we have been getting the trip wrong with her. It’s her first time over seven furlongs and she travelled nice. I was always confident. She was travelling good two-and-a-half furlongs out and picked up well. The ground is drying out. It’s hard work but she loves this sort of stuff and handles it better than most of them.’
Richard Hannon’s Armour was hugely impressive when storming clear in the Group Three Markel Molecomb Stakes under Ryan Moore. The 6/1 chance was a comfortable 3 ¼ lengths too good for the 13/8 market leader Fearby. Richard Hannon is quoted as saying ‘We have always thought a lot of Armor and he worked very well on Sunday morning. He ran very well at Royal Ascot even though he still looked a little inexperienced, and he’s won very well there. He was tapped for speed a little bit coming down to the furlong and a half marker, but he would have loved that ground. Ryan [Moore] said he would like the ground, I think he knows what he’s on about, and he did. I’ve not made too many flash entries for him, but we’ll look at something like the Prix Morny now, maybe the Flying Childers. He’s not a big horse. This is his year and, if he makes a three-year-old, then great, but he is good enough now. He will get six furlongs and we’ll have to have a go at a Group One race over that trip now.’
Andrew Balding’s 7/2 chance Alcohol Free landed the Group One Qatar Sussex Stakes by a length and three-quarters under Oisin Murphy from the 11/8 favourite Poetic Flare. She came with a later rattle which started about two furlongs out before hitting the front and quickening away in the last 100 yards. The bad luck story in the race was Snow Lantern who dwelt at the start, was denied a clear run three furlongs out then hung at the business end of the race eventually finishing third under Jamie Spencer.
Talking after the race the winning trainer said ‘Oisin was at pains to try and tuck in and get some cover because she’s so much better when you are able to do that and she has got something to aim at. Poetic Flare is a very good horse, but she really did it well in the end’.