Andrew Balding might have been left ruing another below par performance from his beloved Southampton FC on Tuesday, but there was lots to like about the winning debut secured by Dambuster in the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes at Sandown Park.
It was another match to forget for the Saints, who lost 1-0 to Ipswich Town in the Sky Bet Championship at St Mary’s Stadium, but the Classic winning trainer had his spirits lifted in the driving rain at the Esher racecourse less than 24 hours later thanks to the son of Kingman.
Looking held in mid division the 17-2 chance appeared to find extra when asked for his effort and stayed on in game fashion as those in front began to tread water, ultimately doing just enough to defeat Go Daddy by a head.
Balding said: “I was very pleased. He is quite lazy at home and we didn’t quite know what to expect as he has shown glimpses of ability, but most of the time he is easily distracted.
“It wasn’t until Oisin (Murphy) started to get more animated that he found his stride and took off. He is bred to be a nice horse and I’m just delighted. He certainly coped with the ground well.
“I’d hope he will stay a mile and a quarter in time but not a huge amount further. I’d like to give him another run this year, but I don’t know where or when. He is a fine big horse and fingers crossed he will do well next year.”
Owner Pat Gallagher was ready to admit defeat with Harb on his return to five furlongs, but he need not have worried after the Peter Crate-trained four-year-old sauntered to glory by two- and three-quarter lengths in the Racing TV Profits Returned To Racing Handicap.
Gallagher said of the 100-30 chance: “He has had a bit of a break as we thought he needed it and Peter said about running here so I said ‘go on’ and he has done it well.
“When Tom (Queally, jockey) got off him at Epsom he said we should try a mile - there was no way on God’s earth he was going to get it, but you have to listen to the likes of Tom and give the horse a chance.
“I actually walked away as everywhere he was going he was getting blocked in, but he has ended up doing that well.”
While the current Flat season might be entering its final few weeks Gallagher has plenty to look forward to during the 2023-24 National Hunt campaign with 2022 Champion Bumper fifth Authorised Speed, who could be set for a spell chasing this campaign.
Gallagher added: “Authorised Speed is back with Gary (Moore, trainer) and I will leave the plans to him. Gary was talking about chasing, but perhaps having his first couple of runs over hurdles.
“He won again after being beaten in the Tolworth Hurdle, although it wasn’t the strongest race.
“He has had a really good summer and Murty McGrath, who looks after them down at Maidstone, was very happy with him. He has filled out and strengthened up so hopefully it will be an exciting winter.”
There have been plenty of smart winners of the Follow @racingtv On X Novice Stakes in recent seasons and owner Jason Goddard hopes Navy Jack can use his success in the seven-furlong contest as a springboard to launch his career.
Having finished second over course and distance on his second start the Clive Cox-trained US Navy Flag colt had subsequently finished down the field when sent off favourite at Newbury last time out.
However, there was to be no repeat of that effort with the 9-4 favourite prevailing by a length and a quarter under Rossa Ryan in a race that was won by subsequent Group One scorer Palace Pier in 2019.
Goddard said: “It was a bit frustrating at Newbury last time. I’m not sure why he didn’t run his race, but we are back on track. It is a stiff track here and looking at that he probably needs a mile.
“There was a bit more confidence today knowing that he had run well before, and the soft ground helped us out as well. He stayed on strongly at the end and he will see a mile out well I thought.”