FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED ON DAY ONE OF THE CORAL SUMMER FESTIVAL
Those lucky enough to join us at Sandown Park for Ladies’ Day on day one of the Coral Summer Festival were treated not only to some first class racing but some glorious sunshine too.
The six-race card provided us with three Listed races and plenty of pointers for the rest of the Flat season, while also whetting our appetite before Saturday’s Coral-Eclipse Day.
Graham Clark was there to pick out five things we learned on the day …
DELIGHTED MULRENNAN HAILS “LEGEND” EUCHEN GLEN
Jockey Paul Mulrennan hailed Euchen Glen as a “legend” after the veteran produced a superb weight-carrying performance to land the Listed Davies Insurance Services Gala Stakes.
Winning for the 12th time in his career the Glasgow-based eight year old was giving away five years and nearly a stone to the favourite, the Cazoo Derby contender John Leeper.
But nothing was getting in the way of trainer Jim Goldie’s stable star as he reeled in long-time leader Father Of Jazz inside the final quarter of a mile and powered on to secure a comfortable three and a quarter length victory over Fox Tal (4-1) in second and the 5-4 favourite in third.
Afterwards a delighted Mulrennan said of the 11-4 winner: “He is just a legend of an old horse. He ran a hell of a race at Ascot. I was a long way back from a bad draw and I would have been a lot closer.
“He likes it here and the race fell in his lap. Jim’s horses this season are flying. I’ve picked up a good rapport with him. He gives you confidence when you are riding for him just to take a horse out of a race to relax so you have that finish and gallon of petrol left at the end.
“We went a good gallop and he has finished off well. I was happy all the way round but I won’t lie to you, before we turned in I’m looking up and he (Father Of Jazz) is at the two and a half pole and I’m thinking ‘he is a fair bit in front of me’ but when I’ve given my horse a squeeze I was praying he picked up and he did.”
Equally delighted with the success was winning owner Richard Johnstone, who had made the four and a half hour journey down from Glasgow by train with his family to see his pride and joy taste victory.
He said: “It was fantastic. He is unbelievable. He just keeps on doing it. On the form I thought the only danger was John Leeper. The one that went out in front did us a favour. Two and a half furlongs out I was celebrating. If he wasn’t progressing I would have been worried but once I saw him progressing I thought ‘this is it’.”
Assessing future plans a return to pattern race company beckons for Euchen Glen with connections earmarking the Group Three L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Glorious Stakes at Goodwood as his next target, ahead of a potential outing in the Champion Stakes at Ascot.
PLENTY MOORE TO COME FROM VETERAN RED VERNON
Age might not be on Red Verdon’s side, but the eight year old proved he still has plenty in the tank to take the Listed Coral Marathon.
What the field in the second race of the day lacked in quantity it more than made up for in quality as smart stayer Withhold took an early lead in the two mile contest, before The Grand Visir took control with just under a circuit left to travel.
Frankie Dettori was working hard on the favourite, Mildenberger, a long way from home and with all eyes on the leading trio it was 8-1 outsider of the four Red Verdon who made his move in the final quarter of a mile.
Under a patient ride from Ryan Moore the result was ultimately never in doubt and the pair secured a comfortable length and a half victory from Ian Williams’ The Grand Visir (2-1) in second.
Red Verdon had been without a victory in 12 races since landing a Group Two at Paris-Longchamp last July but winning trainer Ed Dunlop said: “He has probably won a stakes race nearly every year.
“With the greatest respect to the others I thought his price of 8-1 was insulting. I’m thrilled for him. It was on the slow side but he has proved he can handle this hill and conditions like it. He is in the Ebor and we could consider the Ebor.”
BETHELL CELEBRATES FIRST SANDOWN PARK WINNER
Fearby romped to a five length victory in the opening race of the day to give Edward Bethell his first winner at Sandown Park as a trainer.
The win was only the 10th of Bethell’s short career after taking over training responsibilities from his father James at their Middleham yard earlier this year.
A 13-2 chance, Fearby and jockey PJ McDonald drew well clear of their rivals in the Listed five furlong Coral Dragon Stakes for two year olds to beat Mojomaker (10-3) into second and the well-backed favourite, Kazoo (15-8), into third.
Afterwards Bethell said: “That was brilliant. He is a bonny little horse and is going to grow a bit but I’m delighted and I couldn’t be any more than that. I came here hopeful that he would run a nice race.
“I’m surprised how far he won but not surprised that he won. The team at home have done a wonderful job. I’ve a lovely young team of people who work day in, day out and as everyone says I would be nowhere without them.”
LISTON DELIVERS KNOCKOUT BLOW FOR IN-FORM GHIANI
Sonny Liston landed a sucker punch to leave his rivals on the deck and win the third race on the card, the seven furlong Irish Stallions Farms EBF Novice Stakes.
Named after the famous World Heavyweight Champion boxer of the 1960s, the Charlie Hills-trained colt delivered the knockout blow a quarter of a mile from home to leave odds on favourite Dukedom (5-6) and the rest of the field trailing in his wake.
Jockey Marco Ghiani had ridden out his claim as an apprentice 24 hours earlier but made use of his 3lb allowance for one of the final times in his career to secure a comfortable five and a half length victory on the 18-1 chance.
Trainer Hills said: “It was really quite something. He was a bit green before the race as he was a bit noisy in the paddock. He hasn’t done anything amazing at home but whatever he has done he has done well. It is nice when you get results like this.
“He would get a mile, and I imagine he would get a mile and a quarter next year. He has got a nice pedigree. We will take each day as it comes and see how we go.”
Punters looking for each way value in the 10-runner contest could have done a lot worse than back Flaming Lord, who at 150-1 finished an impressive third.
V IS FOR VICTRIX AS MORRISON’S COLT GETS OFF THE MARK
Vino Victrix defeated a string of more experienced rivals to secure a first career victory in the Davies Group Handicap Stakes over 1m 6f.
The three year old had to plot a wider route than the rest but took the lead inside the final furlong and never looked back.
With Jason Watson on board the Hughie Morrison-trained colt went on to hold off the challenge of the favourite, Classic Lord, by a length and a quarter with well-backed Dancing Harry (5-1) back in third.
The success follows four defeats, two as a novice last year on the all weather and two on turf this season.
However, it seems the longer trip was just the ticket, with Morrison and connections now weighing up their options for the rest of the campaign.