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Godolphin put Frontiersman on course for King George at Ascot

2017-07-14 16:09:35 | Author:Greg Wood | Source:the Guardian
Abstract:“When you first see him, you think he’s a bit mad,” James Doyle said after the Princess of Wales’s Stakes here on Thursday, “but that’s just how he is.” The horse in question was Hawkbill, who was, as so often, a free-sweating, jig-jogging bundle of nerves before the day’s feature event but then a different beast entirely once the race was under way.

 Hawkbill wins Group race at Newmarket but set to be rested 

 Runner-up more likely of pair to chase the big prize

James Doyle rides Hawkbill, left, to victory over Frontiersman at Newmarket. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Hawkbill was a 7-2 chance for this Group Two contest while his stable companion Frontiersman, who also runs in Godolphin’s royal blue silks, was sent off as the 5-4 favourite.

Hawkbill set the pace from the start but briefly looked vulnerable as William Buick moved Frontiersman alongside inside the final quarter-mile before Hawkbill’s experience and attitude made all the difference.

As Hawkbill ran straight for the line, Frontiersman suddenly started to drift left, losing vital momentum as he did so. When Buick tried to renew his challenge, again his partner could not summon up the finishing speed to go past and Hawkbill crossed the line three-quarters of a length in front.

It was not the finishing order that the punters had expected but Hawkbill was a Group One winner in last season’s Eclipse Stakes at Sandown and Frontiersman, a four-year-old making only his ninth start, could well show the benefit of the experience in his next race, which is likely to be the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot later this month.

Like Frontiersman Hawkbill is quoted at around 10-1 for the race but is seemingly not as certain as the runner-up to head for the Ascot showpiece.

“People thought he was just there as a pacemaker,” Charlie Appleby, who trains both horses, said in the winner’s enclosure afterwards, “and we knew that he’d set a decent gallop, but he was in there on his own rights. He’s dangerous when he’s left alone like that. We’ve seen that time and time again with him now. His antics before the race, we’re used to that, that’s him and, if he didn’t sweat, we’d be more worried.

“At some stage I’ve got to give Hawkbill a break. I keep trying but a few days after a race he’s knocking the box down again. Ideally I’d like to get a break into him now whereas with Frontiersman I feel we’ll still look down the King George route. He won’t look out of place and hopefully he’ll come on again.

“He’s still wandering around a bit [towards the finish] but with more racing hopefully the penny will drop. Ascot will give him a turn and a rail to run along.”

Hawkbill’s win completed a 40-1 double for Doyle in the card’s two Group Two events, following an earlier success on the trainer Mark Johnston’s Cardsharp in the July Stakes.

The winner raced down the centre of the track and stayed on well to beat US Navy Flag, from the Aidan O’Brien stable, by one and three-quarter lengths while Rajasinghe, the Coventry Stakes winner at Royal Ascot, made plenty of ground in the closing stages to finish third under a 3lb penalty.

“He was showing so much speed that we decided to switch him from the Coventry to the [five-furlong] Norfolk [at Royal Ascot],” Johnston said, “and it now looks like that was the wrong move. He certainly wasn’t stopping at the end of that and he could easily go further.”

Rajasinghe seems sure to step up to seven furlongs for his next start and should not be dismissed as a sub-standard Coventry winner on the basis of one defeat. “We’re disappointed he didn’t win but he’s put up a great battle to finish third,” Richard Spencer, the colt’s trainer, said. “He’s going to get further and the ultimate aim is the mile in the [2,000] Guineas [on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile course] next year.”

Raheen House is likely to head straight to the St Leger at Doncaster in early September after staying on past most of his field to take the opening Bahrain Trophy over a mile and five furlongs.

Brian Meehan’s colt had the highest official rating in the race after running fourth in a Group Two at Royal Ascot, but Atty Persse, a handicap winner at the same meeting, was sent off favourite. He dropped away tamely from three out, however, as Raheen House held off Desert Skyline by a length.

“He’ll get the extra furlong [in the St Leger] for sure,” Meehan said, “and he deserves this because he’s done nothing but progress. It looks like strong form and I’d imagine we’ll head straight for Doncaster.”

There was an unexpected moment of drama earlier in the afternoon when Sheikh Fahad al-Thani of Qatar, one of the sport’s leading owners, suffered “a minor head wound” when he was unseated from his mount Alamagest during the 348th running of the historic Newmarket Town Plate, a private event which he won as a jockey 12 months ago.

Alamagest appeared to be coming with a strong challenge to the leaders when Sheikh Fahad became unbalanced and fell onto a running rail. He was taken to the racecourse medical room by ambulance for treatment and later said on Twitter: “What a shame. Saddled slipped. Thankfully I’m fine, just off to get stitches in a minor head wound.”

Aidan O’Brien said on Thursday evening that Minding, the winner of seven Group One races during her career including last year’s 1,000 Guineas and Oaks, has been retired after failing to recover from an injury to a pastern. In addition to her two Classic victories in Britain, Minding also won last season’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot in October, and the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood in July.

Greg Wood’s tips

Ascot 2.15 Faraasah 2.50 Dragons Tail (nap) 3.25 Getback In Paris 4.00 Stoney Broke 4.35 Atletico 5.10 Abatement 5.40 Mamilliust

Carlisle 6.05 Kiwi Bay 6.35 Ingenuity 7.05 Computable 7.35 Star Of Zaam 8.10 Call Me Grumpy 8.45 Cliff Bay 9.20 Thorntoun Care

Chepstow 5.45 Distant High 6.15 Listen Alexander 6.45 Quantum Dot 7.15Zambezi Queen 7.50 Indian Affair 8.25 Carol 9.00 Swilly Sunset

Musselburgh 5.55 See Vermont 6.25 Queen’s Sargent 6.55 Soldier In Action 7.25Longroom 8.00 Inglorious 8.35 Dominating 9.10 Percy Verence

Newmarket 1.50 Parfait 2.25 Nyaleti 3.00 Marzouq (nb) 3.35 Roly Poly 4.10Elysium Dream 4.45 Dukhan 5.20 Falcon Eye 5.50 Dr Julius No York 2.05 One Minute 2.40 Night Of Glory 3.15 Clem Fandango 3.45 Visitant 4.20 Funkadelic4.55 Lapilli 5.30 Pennsylvania Dutch

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