Crystal Ocean made it two from two in 2018 when capturing the Group 3 Aston Park Stakes at Newbury on Saturday. The son of Sea The Stars had battled on gamely to win the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown on his reappearance last month over an inadequate ten furlongs and appreciated the return to twelve furlongs here. Ryan Moore pushed his mount clear inside the final couple of furlongs to register a six lengths win. Races such as the Prince of Wales's Stakes and Eclipse were mentioned afterwards but I don't think he is quick enough to win at Group 1 level over ten furlongs. However, I think it could be a different story over twelve furlongs. The Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot - a race Sir Michael Stoute has already won 10 times - looks his obvious next port of call before returning to the same track in late July for the King George. The head of Freemason Lodge has campaigned and handled the four year old brilliantly.
Sea The Stars was also responsible for the winner of ten furlongs Listed fillies event with Sea Of Class. William Haggas' filly had shaped with plenty of promise on her debut over a mile at Newmarket and relished the step up in distance on her second start. Patiently ridden by James Doyle, she came with a sweeping run and readily beat the likes of Athena and Crystal Hope. The runner-up is only rated 80 but it was still an impressive display by the winner who still holds an entry in the Oaks. Held in high regard, the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot is an obvious alternative if her connections feel the fillies' Classic will come too soon. Either way, she looks a smashing prospect with Group 1 aspirations. Once again, the William Haggas interview in Ahead On The Flat is worth its weight in gold. Having beaten subsequent Musidora Stakes winner Give And Take at Sandown, I was disappointed with the performance of Crystal Hope. Well positioned, she couldn't summon the speed of the winner when asked and perhaps she didn't appreciate the fast ground. She is worthy of a second chance.
Eight days after Magic Circle (8/1) won the Chester Cup, the Significant Sales feature in AOTF produced another good priced winner at Thirsk on Saturday. Gunmetal (10/1) won on his first start for David Barron having been bought out of Charlie Hills' yard for 47,000gns last Autumn. The grey raced prominently under Ben Curtis before being kept up to his work to win the six furlongs handicap at the North Yorkshire venue by a length and a quarter. The five year old is the sort to bag a decent handicap this summer for his new connections.
Finally, at the risk of repeating myself, well done to ValueRacingClub.co.uk once again - Mountain Rescue (7/2) became one of the few horses to win on both the Rowley Mile and July course at Newmarket when steered to a length and three quarters victory at HQ under William Buick on Saturday. Trained by Chris Wall, whose team are in good nick, the six year old has now won four times since being bought by his thriving syndicate. I know manager James Couldwell has been busy this week ploughing through the Doncaster Spring Sales catalogue seeking fresh talent, so there is no better time to get involved. It's called ValueRacingClub for a reason and the results have proved that.
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