Friday 2nd June
Bobsleigh (5-1) made it two wins from as many starts when successful in the opening race The Derby Festival in 2023, the British EBF 40th Anniversary Woodcote Stakes (6f).
Partnered by Charlie Bishop, the two year old Elzaam gelding took the lead just inside the final furlong and stayed on well for a three quarters of a length success over Balon D'Or. His previous success came just under a month ago over an extended five furlongs at Brighton.
Winning trainer Eve Johnson Houghton said: “I think we’ve got a Royal Ascot candidate on our hands - it’s very exciting, isn’t it?
“He did exactly what we’d planned. We knew they’d go really fast; you just get him balanced and wait until he comes to you. I knew he had a good turn of foot - whether he could make up that much ground, I wasn’t sure, but he was pretty impressive, I think.
“He’s got plenty of boot, so we could drop back to five furlongs. Obviously the Coventry is going to be the hottest race [for two-year-olds at Royal Ascot] so I don’t know, but for this group of 20 people in this syndicate, it’s a fantastic day out for them. They don’t pay much money, and Anthony Bromley and I do a pretty good job in buying them for not much money, and they are having the time of their lives.
“The whole idea is that they [the horses in the Woodway syndicate] are sold at the end of their two-year-old career, so we are here to have fun with them.
“When I bought him, he was really small. I remember saying to Ant, ‘He’s a bit small, are we sure about that?’ He’s just grown and grown and thrived, since gelding him, which was the best thing I ever did for him. He’s really done well.”
Charlie Bishop, the successful jockey, added: “I knew there was a lot of pace on and I wanted to ride him with lots of confidence. Eve puts her faith in me which enables me to ride nice races like this and it has paid off. He came home really nicely and won quite comfortably. I don’t think he is slow either and going to Royal Ascot we are going to have to think what we go for. The Windsor Castle is back at five and it is probably a more winnable race than the Coventry Stakes. We will see how he comes out of this and if he improves again and we think it is worth a go at the Coventry then maybe we might go for that but I would say that the Windsor Castle might be more up his street.
“Obviously these connections have had luck in the Windsor Castle before with Chipotle. It would be great to get him to Royal Ascot in one piece and whatever race Eve decides to run him in I’m sure she won’t be wrong.
“He has done nothing wrong on the track and he has won there despite still being quite green. I think the improvement could be massive. Going forward this horse could have a bit of scope as he is not that small.
“I was confident today. The yard and all the staff were very bullish and they aren’t often as strong (in their confidence) as they were today. They put faith in him and they were right.”
James Doyle, jockey of the runner-up Balon D'Or, said: “He’s fast. It’s a good run, I was just outstayed at the end.”
Pat Dobbs, rider of slow-starting favourite 9-4 Haatem, who finished third, said: “He was just up in the air when the gates opened and he landed flat-footed. He must have lost four or five lengths but he would still have won if he had handled the track in the last two furlongs and not been hanging.”
Richard Hannon, trainer of Haatem, added: “He was the moral winner and I’ll look to take him now to the Coventry or the Superlative, maybe both.
“He just reared up when the gates opened, but that’s two-year-olds for you. He was full of running all the way through the race and made up a lot of ground. Still, getting beat because you’re not good enough would have been a lot worse.”