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Article 19th April 2023 Newmarket

By Graham Clark

Trainer James Ferguson admitted it was ‘very exciting’ to have a horse the calibre of Canberra Legend, who advanced his Classic claims when maintaining his unbeaten record in the bet365 Feilden Stakes at Newmarket on today, day two of the bet365 Craven Meeting.    

The son of Australia, racing in the colours of Bon Ho, defied his relative inexperience when following up his debut success at Newcastle 58 days with a game success on his first start on turf in the nine-furlong Listed contest under Daniel Muscutt.

Buried away amongst runners early doors it wasn’t until the concluding stages of the race that the 15-2 chance began to work up a sustained head of steam and mount a serious challenge.

Having landed the race 12 months ago with Eydon victory looked to be heading the way of trainer Roger Varian for the second year in succession as last time out course scorer Kolsai swept to the front just outside the furlong pole pass long-time leader Killybegs Warrior.

However it was not to be with Canberra Legend, who holds entries in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York and Betfred Derby at Epsom Downs, wearing him down close to the line before scoring by half a length.

Ferguson said: “I was delighted how professional he was when the gates opened. From that wide draw he had every opportunity to be keen and free but he settled into the race really well.

“I thought he was given a lovely ride and from the jockey’s action it looked like he was pretty happy the whole way so I’m thrilled.

“He has always been a big type, and even though he is that big he did show his class at two. We all made an executive decision to leave him and let him develop over the winter and that run at Newcastle and today he has shown that he does have that ability we thought he had at home which is nice to see as normally it is the other way round.

“I was very hopeful. Simon Scott, who rides him every day, is very experienced in racing and he has ridden some good horses in time and every day I’ve been like is this alright and he has been like just relax James he is in really good order.

“The whole way through his training has been fairly smooth so credit to the guys back home. They all do a wonderful job. I was hopeful today. When he won at Newcastle in such a quick time and he thoroughly enjoyed it and didn’t really know what had happened after the race but he was obviously going to come on for the run.

While Canberra Legend was trimmed in 20-1 for the Betfred Derby by the race sponsor and both Paddy Power and William Hill, the Newmarket handler insisted he would hold talks with connections before making any decision regarding his next target.

Ferguson said: “I think he will definitely get further in time whether it (the QIPCO 2000 Guineas) is unlikely or not I can’t say that without talking to the owner.

“We’ve got a lot of options ahead of us and it very exciting to have a horse of this calibre for his owner who has been with me since I started.

“He is in both (Dante and Derby). I think we have to see how he comes out of the race and the Guineas is not that far away.

“He looks like he wants further but I have to talk to the owner first.”


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