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Article 31st May 2024 Epsom Downs

Friday 31st May

Ladies Day at The Betfred Derby Festival got underway with the Betfred British -EBF Conditions Stakes, a six-furlong contest for two-year-olds, and it was Teej A (7-2) who came out on top.

The winner, one of four runners in the race for owner Nick Bradley Racing, raced handily. After taking the lead entering the final furlong, the Mehmas filly ran on well to score by a length and a quarter from Megalithic.

Winning trainer Karl Burke said: “She went beautifully at Chester when she won last time; she travelled really well and balanced down the hill. But the great thing about her is that she has grown up behind since Chester - I really noticed it in the paddock and watching her stood still there. She’s got a couple of inches to grow, I think, so there’s a bit of scope there for the future.

“I don’t know about Royal Ascot for her. She’s got the ability to go there, but I think there’s a bit of growing to do, so why rush her back when she’s had a couple of quick races, now? We’ll probably go for a nice Group race in France, get that black type for her, and I’d be looking at the likes of the Cheveley Park Stakes for her later in the season, and really fulfil her potential.

“I think Clifford probably kicked on 100 yards earlier than he needed to, and I thought she was going to get collared by Ralph Beckett’s horse in the final furlong, but, to be fair to her, she stuck on really well. I was impressed with her there - she was very tough in the last 100yd.”

Clifford Lee, rider of the winner, said: "She's a nice filly and she won well at Chester. She did everything right here. She jumped the gates well and got a nice position. I was always travelling very well and if anything, I could have held on to her a little longer as I possibly went a bit soon and she pricked her ears a little bit. She could be a Royal Ascot filly. I'd have thought she'd probably go there."

Ralph Beckett, trainer of the second Megalithic, said: “The draw kind of killed us, but he’s a nice little horse. The winner got the run of it, and had been round Chester - I’m not making excuses; the winner won well - but I thought, given how the first two furlongs went, he did really well to get there and couldn’t just quite haul the winner in.

“I hope he’s a stakes horse - based on that, you’d hope he is. I don’t think we’ll go to Royal Ascot, we’ll find a maiden for him and take a slightly longer-term view.”

Megalithic’s jockey, Hector Crouch, added: "We got a bit caught up in the hurly burly round the top bend and he doesn't quite have the tactical speed at this sort of trip to get in a better position. He's certainly got the quality to go to Royal Ascot but I think patience will be the key to him. He's a smart horse."

A photo-finish to the £75,000 TrustATrader Handicap over an extended saw Two Tempting (12-1) take the honours by the minimum distance of a nose. Partnered by David Egan, the five-year-old New Bay gelding took the lead quarter of a mile out and kept on gamely to hold off the late challenge of Beshtani.

Winning trainer Johnny Portman said: “I was pretty sure we’d been chinned, but I would have been very happy with second. I thought he’d run a blinder. Although this was the plan, because he ran well here last year, expectations were less. Jockey had him in the right place at the right time, and it worked.

“I never put him in the Royal Hunt Cup. I rang the owner up when the Hunt Club was closing, and said, ‘What do you think?’ Then I thought no, I wish I hadn’t rung him, that was stupid - now maybe we should have put him in, I don’t know.

“It was very touch and go and I’m amazed that we got it. So I’m thrilled for the horse and for the owners. I didn’t expect him to run quite like that, but he’s been in amazing form all season. He’s a healthy horse, he’s a happy horse, he’s a tough horse. It’s great to be here and have a winner on Oaks day.

“I know David was worried that he got there too soon, as was I, I know he was worried on the inside, because he was going to be lent on on the camber - I tell my jockeys never to be on the inside rail - but it all worked out. We’re thrilled.”

The successful jockey David Egan said: "He travelled sweetly but I had to commit a bit early to get the gap on the inside and make sure I got there. I got there a week too soon, butte horse did find a bit more when James came to me. I was definitely behind for five or six strides, but he got his head down at the right time."

Hamad Al Jehani, a former champion trainer in Qatar, was responsible for the runner-up Beshtani.

He said: "It's amazing to be here at Epsom, one of the best tracks in the world and for sure the hardest place . It was his first run for me and my first runner at Epsom, but I'm sure not my last. We felt he might not handle the ground very well so he surprised me how he challenged the winner to the line and be beaten just a small head I think. He ran very well and he'll hopefully go to Royal Ascot next for the Hunt Cup.

"It's amazing to be training here in England and challenging the best trainers in the world."

Jockey James Doyle added: “I’m delighted with him. He’s had a long time off the track and has been well-prepared by his trainer - I’m very pleased.”


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