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Article 26th August 2023 Newmarket

By Graham Clark

Classic winning jockey Andrea Atzeni enjoyed the fairytale ending to his 16-year riding career in Britain ahead of jetting off to pastures new in Hong Kong after steering Lezoo to glory in the feature JenningsBet Hopeful Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.           

The 32-year-old Italian ensured his final ride in Britain was a winning one before swapping Europe for Asia when partnering the daughter of Zoustar to her first victory since tasting Group One glory in last year’s Group One Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes.

After finishing down the field in both the QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, the Ralph Beckett-trained three-year-old had something to prove dropped back down in grade in the six-furlong contest.    

However, despite the track being hit by a heavy rain shower in the run up to the £50,000 prize, which would have counted against Lezoo, supporters of the 7-4 Favourite were not given too many anxious moments on route to her victory. 

Anchored off the early pace on Lezoo went through the gears smartly late on before getting the better of Emaraaty Ana by a neck to secure her second win at the track having landed the Listed Maureen Brittain Memorial Empress Stakes 12 months ago. 

Not only was victory a fitting farewell for Atzeni, who during his time in Britain has partnered over 1,000 winners, but it completed a big race treble for Beckett and owner Marc Chan after the pair had earlier secured Group Two glory with Kinross in the Sky Bet City of York Stakes and Angel Bleu in the William Hill Celebration Mile at Goodwood.

Atzeni, who flies to Hong Kong tomorrow, said: “I half expected it (the win) and that’s why I’m not surprised, but when I picked up the ride on this filly I said to my agent I’m happy to leave after that as otherwise I’m only going to get upset so I might as well leave on a high. 

“It is a big move, and it is hitting me more now as I’m travelling out there tomorrow, not so much in a shock way as I’m really excited and looking forward to it. 

“It is a contract for six months, but it could be for six years.”

As for Lezoo, the Group One winning rider praised her tenacity for getting back to winning ways on conditions that were not ideal.

He added: “I thought she had a very good chance. She is obviously getting a bit of weight off the older horses. It looked like the perfect race on perfect ground.      

“That big heavy shower we had made the ground very loose, which she probably didn’t appreciate as much as she would quick ground as she was wheel spinning a little bit. 

“She got the job done and it was great to get her head in front again.”

While Lezoo, who is also part owned by Andrew Rosen, holds an entry in next month’s Group One Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock Park and the British Champion Sprint Stakes at Ascot at the same level assistant trainer Joe Tuite admitted he was unsure where her next appearance would be.  

Tuite said: “This race suited perfectly as Ralph said. He waited for this. We were worried when the rain came but she has done it nicely. She is a tough filly and we are back on track now. 

“There was no air of frustration with her campaign it just didn’t happen in the 1000 Guineas and at Royal Ascot. 

“It is a possibility (the Sprint Cup). You’ll have to speak to Ralph as I’ve no idea what the plan is, but it is just nice to see her back in the winner’s enclosure anyway.”


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