Newmarket’s ‘Gold’ autumn season stepped up a gear in style on Saturday with a card containing two Group One two year old races, a Group Two race for the same age group and one of the season’s premier Heritage Handicaps the bet365 Cambridgeshire.
All three Group races went abroad, Jessica Harrington’s Millisle taking the Cheveley Park Stakes prize over to Ireland while Andre Fabre’s Earthlight justified favouritism to win the Middle Park Stakes for France. Aidan O’Brien completed the rout of the home trainers by winning the Royal Lodge with Royal Dornoch.
In the Cheveley Park Mark Johnston’s Raffle Prize, the summer’s top filly, was a strong market leader and raced with enthusiasm up front, taking the lead with three furlongs still to travel. Meanwhile, Millisle was travelling well in behind the leaders and when jockey Shane Foley asked for an effort she swooped past as they entered the final furlong and kept on well to the line, winning by one and three quarter lengths.
Millisle was gaining compensation for the defeat she sustained last time in the UK when she was blood tested by stewards prior to the race and failing to give her true running subsequently. Trainer Harrington was diplomatic when asked about that incident after yesterday’s race but was clearly excited by the prospect of the fillies three year old campaign, nominating the 1,000 Guineas (for which she was given a 33/1 ante-post quote after the race by Paddy Power) and the Commonwealth Cup as options.
The Middle Park Stakes saw three unbeaten colts heading the betting market but one of those, Siskin, Ger Lyons’ Irish trained challenger, reared up in the stalls and had to be withdrawn. That left Earthlight, who had travelled from France to defend an unbeaten run that had stretched to four races, and the dual unbeaten winner Mums Tipple as the two key contenders.
In the end Richard Hannon’s Mums Tipple failed to run to expectations (he was reported lame after the race when examined by the BHA vet) and it was Clive Cox’s Golden Horde, a 16/1 chance, who gave Earthlight most to do. The two had met previously in the Prix Morny where Earthlight had come out on top, winning while Golden Horde was almost three lengths back in third that day.
Approaching the final furlong yesterday Golden Horde had taken up the running on the stands rail but Earthlight had been shown daylight by jockey Mickael Barzalona and always looked likely to get up once he was asked for an effort, in the end he won a shade more comfortably than the neck margin suggested.
Andre Fabre was guarded about the likelihood of the colt returning to Newmarket for next season’s 2,000 Guineas saying after the race, “we won’t run again this year and hopefully he’ll get a mile next year when he could come back here or maybe Longchamp, but those decisions are six months away.”
Godolphin have a stranglehold on the two year old colt division with both Earthlight and Pinatubo, both of whom are by their sire Shamardal.
Golden Horde’s connections were very happy with their second place run. “That was a brilliant run and we nearly turned the French form around with the winner”, said the owner’s racing manager Peter Harper.
There was a surprise in the Group Two Royal Lodge Stakes as Royal Dornoch, trained by Aidan O’Brien, defied odds of 16/1 to make another significant mark for Coolmore’s freshman sire Gleneagles. It was O’Brien’s seventh winner in the race but it isn’t a race he tends to target with his top drawer colts and Royal Dornoch was given a tentative quote of 33/1 for next year’s Derby by Betfair.
The bet365 Cambridgeshire provided a popular result for race-goers when Frankie Dettori won very cosily on the gambled-on favourite Lord North, an unexposed three year old trained by John Gosden, a trainer with a strong record in the event. Lord North’s handicap mark looked very lenient as he cruised through to pass Beringer, the pair 4 lengths clear of the third. Gosden was looking ahead to better things after the race, “It was a bit cheeky of Frankie in the closing stages, all that looking around, that’s the end of handicaps now!”