On a day when Brian Hughes rode a double at Sedgefield, the champion elect moved to within one winner of reaching 200 for the season which is a tremendous achievement. Fingers crossed, the 2019/2020 champion can get across the line during the three day spring Festival at Perth this week.
Assessment provided the Top 40 Prospects in Ahead On The Flat with another winner when narrowly edging out previous scorer Security Code in the novice stakes over a mile at Yarmouth. A well bred son of Kingman, he was Sir Michael Stoute's first winner of 2022. Making all under Richard Kingscote, he was allowed a soft time in front but had to fight bravely to fend off the sustained challenge of the Gosden trained runner-up who had created a good impression at Wolverhampton last backend. Four lengths clear of the third, the front two look above average.
I would suggest keeping an eye on the winner's stablemate Dungeon who stayed on nicely in fourth position. A colt by Dubawi out of Breeders' Cup winner Dank, he had finished seventh on his only outing as a two year old at Kempton in November. Not unfancied here, he wasn't subjected to an aggressive ride but was closing in on the third at the death. He is one for the notebook especially once qualified for handicaps after one more run.
Nahanni continued Charlie Appleby's relentless start to the season by taking the Listed Blue Riband Trial at Epsom. Despite only finishing fifth, I thought there was plenty of encouragement to be gained by the run of Mighty Ulysses. An easy winner of his only start at Yarmouth last season, this represented a marked step up in class. Keen early on, he moved smoothly into contention rounding Tattenham Corner and looked the most likely winner approaching the two marker. However, his effort flattened out a furlong later and Frankie Dettori eased off. Beaten two and a half lengths, he looked a non stayer. Admittedly, his sire was top-class over ten furlongs and stayed a mile and a half but his dam Token of Love was a Listed winner over a mile for William Haggas. Expect to see him running over shorter distances in future - could he be a Britannia Stakes horse?
Talking of Royal Ascot, it will be interesting to see if Andrew Balding gives Achelois an entry in the Royal Hunt Cup. The daughter of Zoffany has been kept in training in the hope of gaining some black type but there is a good handicap to be won with her in the meantime. Andrew Balding's filly travelled powerfully in the City And Suburban Handicap and it looked a matter of how far with two furlongs to run. While she found plenty for pressure, the four year old was outstayed by Soto Sizzler (won over twelve furlongs) and beaten a neck with five lengths back to the third. A winner over a mile at Ascot last summer, she looks tailormade for the Hunt Cup.
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