It has been a long time coming but it proved worth the wait with racing finally resuming in the UK on Monday. Newcastle staged a ten race card and it proved to be an excellent day for followers of Ahead On The Flat.
Art Power set the ball rolling with an explosive performance in the second division of the six furlongs novice stakes. Tim Easterby's son of Dark Angel had looked a smart prospect when winning by five lengths on soft ground at York last Autumn. He repeated the dose under a penalty at Gosforth Park as he handed out a five and a half lengths beating to his ten opponents. Making all, he put his rivals to the sword and almost certainly booked his place for Royal Ascot in a couple of weeks time. He looks a high-class sprinter in the making.
The concluding two divisions of the ten furlongs maiden stakes were won by two featured horses in Ahead On The Flat. Frankly Darling, who is included in the Maidens In Waiting section, had run with plenty of promise on her debut at Yarmouth last backend. John Gosden's filly confirmed that view with an authoritative five lengths win in the opening division. Pulled wide by Robert Havlin, she showed a good turn of foot to win going away. A daughter of Frankel and a half-sister to the likes of Our Obsession and First In Line, she is bred to be even better over a mile and a half. The Epsom Oaks looks a distinct possibility for this progressive filly.
Valyrian Steel (11/4) ensured the Top 40 Prospects got off to the best possible start in division two. Like Frankly Darling, he is a son of Frankel and came highly recommended by Roger Varian. An expensive yearling, he overcame a slow start and lack of experience to make a winning start to his career. David Egan's mount still had plenty on his plate when pulled wide but he stayed on strongly to reel in Wise Glory close home to prevail by a neck. He, too, gives the impression an extra couple of favourites won't go amiss.
Victor Ludorum (7/5) provided the Classic Contenders section in the Appendix with success in the French 2000 Guineas at Deauville. A Group 1 winning juvenile, the son of Shamardal had raced too keenly when finishing third on his reappearance in the Prix de Fontainebleau at Longchamp last month. However, he was a different proposition here under a patient ride from Mickael Barzalona reversing the form with the The Summit in the process. Andre Fabre's charge quickened up well and was value for more than the winning margin of a length and a half. His style of racing suggests he will stay further with the Prix du Jockey Club looking an obvious target next month.
On an otherwise very successful day for AOTF, there was a sad postscript from Newcastle. Phil Kirby's December Second unfortunately suffered a fatal injury when clipping heels and hitting the deck in the twelve furlongs handicap. Bought cheaply out of Godolphin as an unraced five year old, he won two bumpers and once on the Flat and appeared to have a bright future.
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