Defoe couldn't have made a better start to his four year old career with a silky smooth victory in the Group 3 John Porter Stakes at Newbury. Roger Varian's colt disappointed in the St Leger at Doncaster last September but he was back to his best here under Andrea Atzeni. Held up early on, he crept into contention with his rider sitting motionless. Once asked to go and win the race, the response was impressive as he pulled two and a half lengths clear of Danehill Kodiac. His trainer indicated afterwards that the son of Dalakhani is likely to drop back to ten furlongs and contest the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh next month. He looks set to a lucrative campaign with a win at the highest level a distinct possibility.
Young Rascal provided the Top 40 Prospects with a winner in the one mile three maiden later on the card. Regal Director ensured the race was run at a strong pace with James Doyle content to sit off the gallop aboard William Haggas' charge. Entering the final quarter of a mile, it was apparent Doyle had plenty of horse underneath him before he stretched clear to register a five lengths success. It would be no surprise to see the son of Intello being aimed at a Derby trial, possibly at Lingfield.
As regards the Guineas trials, namely the Greenham and Fred Darling Stakes, I will be surprised if they unearth a future Classic winner. I must confess to being disappointed with Expert Eye's performance in the former event. Although only beaten three parts of a length, Sir Michael Stoute's colt, who was sporting a noseband, raced keenly early on and didn't demonstrate that lethal turn of foot which was evident at Goodwood last summer. Perhaps he will be a different proposition on top of the ground but I feel he has plenty to prove now.
There have a couple of notable winners in the Talking Trainer's section of Ahead On The Flat in recent days. Sawwaah (25/1) won the Wood Ditton Stakes at Newmarket on his racecouse debut for Owen Burrows, while Lamloom (10/1) scored on his reappearance at Nottingham last night. Plus, So Perfect (4/1), who is highlighted in the Who's The Daddy section, made a winning debut at Navan on Sunday. Aidan O'Brien's filly, who cost $400,000 as a yearling, led close home and looks a smart juvenile in the making.
Switching codes, I was fortunate enough to work for Racing UK at both days of Ayr's Scottish National meeting. The racing over the two days was excellent with some fiercely competitive handicaps. Midnight Shadow (25/1), who is featured on page 127 of One Jump Ahead, won the Scottish Champion Hurdle for Sue Smith. Seventh in Grade 1 company at Aintree a week earlier, the five year old stayed on strongly to fend off fellow novice Claimantakinforgan by a length and a quarter. I spoke to his rider Danny Cook afterwards and he is already looking forward to riding the Midnight Legend gelding over fences next season. The runner-up should also make a cracking novice chaser next term.
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