Friday 2nd June
Trainer Charlie Johnston, who is doubly represented in tomorrow’s Betfred Derby, had the perfect warm up when saddling the first two horses home in the Racehorse Lotto Handicap (1m ½f) on Ladies Day at The Derby Festival,
It was Austrian Theory (7-1) who took the honours, making all to hold off the challenge of his stablemate Dutch Decoy (7-1) and win by half a length.
Charlie Johnston said: “Four winners would have been the perfect day for us but to do that we’d have needed a dead heat in one race, so that was a fantastic result. This is a horse who we’ve always thought a lot of, he was a very talented two year old and he won the Almada Mile at Hamilton last year in the style of a really good horse.
“It was that moment where I thought he’d go on and be a real Golden Mile type of horse at Goodwood, but he can just be a bit in and out. Chester at the weekend was a sign that he’s just coming back to the boil and Joe (Fanning) was sublime at the front end. He controlled the race and I would have sworn at two down that Dutch Decoy had him covered, but Joe had a bit more up his sleeve.
“The one thing we do feel is that straight track big handicaps don’t really suit him. He’s run in a Cambridgeshire and Ascot races and what have you and I think because he likes to be on the front end and try and save a bit and that’s harder to do on straight course races. The plan didn’t come off last year, but I think we’ll be working back from the Golden Mile once again.
“It was a fantastic result for me personally but I feel a bit sorry for Dutch Decoy, because he’s been banging his head against a brick wall all spring. He ran a great race in a really tough handicap at the Guineas meeting and as I just said to his owners (The Owners Group), his turn is coming.”
Successful jockey Joe Fanning, who was partnering his fourth winner from his last six rides, added: “He jumped and travelled good and two out I was still going quite well. Although it looked as if our other horse (runner-up Dutch Decoy) might go by me, I had a little bit left, so it worked out.
“He’s been disappointing, because we thought quite a bit of him as a two year old ,then he went off the boil a little bit. When he won at Hamilton last year we thought he was back, but then he started disappointing again. But his last run at Chester last week was quite promising, so we were quite hopeful.”
George Boughey, trainer of third-placed All The King’s Men, said: “It was another solid effort and he really is a model of consistency. He stayed the extended mile well but I’m not totally sure he loved the track. Once they levelled off in the final furlong he stayed on strongly.
“William (Buick) said he was generous enough in the first time blinkers though they might have cost him a little bit late on. He is a horse that is progressive. The plan has always been to run him in the Buckingham Palace at Royal Ascot as I think a strongly run seven furlongs with a stiff finish will suit him but I think he might just fall short of getting in. However, he will be entered in it and we might try and find somewhere to run him before that to try to ensure he gets in as it has been the target since he came over from France.”