BetVictor Hungerford Stakes Day at Newbury Racecourse
William Buick completed a double on the day with victory in the star race of the Newbury Group 2 BetVictor Hungerford Stakes encounter aboard the driven Eve Johnson-Haughton jumbo.
Sent off on 9/1 after being well held at the International at Ascot, it’s a fine return to form for New Bay’s 4-year-old son, who swept between rivals to score by nearly 2 lengths over Dubai Poet and Wings Of War.
Primo Bacio and Pogo were in the lead at the start, with Chindit changing as the peloton started to sort itself out. In a true foot race, it was Pogo who started to decline just before a furlong, with Tiber Flow and Primo Bacio battling for the lead as the peloton headed into the final furlong.
Dubai Poet was kicking there with Wings Of War, but it was Buick aboard Jumby who would take the spoils, as he threaded the needle and crossed with a furlong to go, decisively fleeing with a formidable turn to score by just under two lengths. Dubai Poet remained best for second place, with Wings Of War returning to third place.
After the race, William was full of praise for his mount, which was bouncing back from a disappointing run at Ascot last time out, despite having cheekpads fitted to it for the first time.
“He’s a great traveler, and he’s in great shape.”
“It was a trap race, but it fell apart today, and he showed his true colors.”
When asked if the horse would benefit from riding on a one-mile trip, William quickly dismissed the idea.
“No, 7 furlongs is perfect”.
After a series of handicaps in which the horse finished placed or mid-split, it seems trainer Eve Johnson-Haughton has finally found the right type of run and level for a horse that hit the crossbar at a few times recently. , running gallant races in defeat.
While entered in the City of York Stakes, the trainer said they would likely enter the horse for the Prix de la Forêt, as entries for the race close next week, and they would miss the run to York.
Report on the rest of the meeting…
Zechariah put himself firmly in the picture for the main remaining races of next season by winning the BetVictor Geoffrey Freer Group 3 Stakes with a scintillating performance under Tom Marquand.
Freddie and Martyn Meade already have the best middle distance horse Pyledriver on their list, but they may only have one horse to fight with in races over 2 miles and more, while the son of 3-year-old Nathaniel took over a field of classy performers and won by just over 3 lengths in the scorching sun at the Berkshire track.
Zechariah was sent straight into the lead by Outbox’s Tom Marquand and Silence Please eager to sit a few lengths back in second and third respectively. Away He Goes and Universal Order brought up the rear in a race that unfolded at a generous pace. Universal Order, after switching to the back, briefly played in the stalls with its head on the other side of the stall just before the start, but luckily settled in quickly.
Turning into the straight, Zechariah still held a handy lead as Away he Goes was sent outside by Sean Levey to better target the leader. However, at the 3 furlong marker, Tom dismissed the leader, in a manner that shouted “catch me if you can”. His pace quickened and soon all his rivals were in trouble. The Away he Goes effort quickly faltered, as did Silence Please, both of whom couldn’t live with the relentless, furious injection of rhythm the frontman had just produced.
Only Outbox and Universal Order could follow the leader, but they were still battling for second place as the leader turned up the heat in rapid fashion, maintaining the fierce gallop to the line to score by 3 lengths. Universal Order sealed second place in Outbox, with 5 lengths for Silence Please and an additional 1.5 lengths for the disappointing Away He Goes.
After the race, winning jockey Tom Marquand was full of praise for the winner.
“He didn’t do anything wrong.” “He handled the floor and the class jump,” he said, with a beaming smile almost akin to the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.
As far as Nathaniel’s son’s future plans go, it looks like he has some high-profile races in store for him.
“He is a forward stayer. It will improve for the future”. In the long run, he seemed to be referring to Australia, perhaps a sign that connections will think of a trip to Flemington for the Melbourne Cup, a race he is already entered in.
Reflecting on the immediate response and bang of speed that poured in from the three furlong marker, the jockey was keen to state that it was his plan to stretch his rivals as far as he could, using the stamina of his mount to take advantage of a weight allowance against his rivals.
“He remains well. Newbury is a great track”.
“He has a lot of weight compared to older horses, no need to let the others come” were his words regarding the progressive winner.
On future plans, the big one at Ascot in June appears to be on the radar, with a crack at St Leger in more immediate sight, where he can be backed at 20/1 with Geoffrey Freer Stakes sponsors BetVictor.
“That’s the point”.
Among the beaten horses, Hollie Doyle was full of praise for her mount Outbox, which finished third.
“It was a great race,” she enthused. “He had a great time”, ending with a note that “he will soon win again”.
William Buick’s double began with a victory aboard the well-imagined victory dancewho won the Listed Denford Stakes with impressive style for trainer Charlie Appleby and owners Godolphin.
Forced out of 4/7F, he obliged by 1¼ lengths in somewhat comfortable fashion, beating longtime leader Ferrari Queen and fast Candle Of Hope.
Ferrari Queen led the field with the heavy favorite set up in the middle of the quintet split. Bluelight Bay and Cite D’Or were the middle part of the pack with the favourite, with Candle Of Hope sitting at the tails of the pack.
With 3,400 meters to go, William Buick stoked his horse’s fire and started to move forward, putting pressure on the leader. Candle Of Hope were dispatched to accompany the favorite, but the response was not as immediate as their main rival as he proved to be somewhat lacking in footwork.
Ferrari Queen’s lead was quickly reduced as the favorite asserted itself and continued to score, muted, by a comfortable 1 and a quarter length. Ferrari Queen finished second, with Candle Of Home coming in quickly at the end. Both would potentially benefit from increasing travel to one mile.
Speaking afterwards, William was thrilled for his mount, which got quotes of 10/1 from BetVictor for the Dewhurst Stakes.
“It was a nice confidence boost,” referring to his second place finish in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket ahead of Isaac Shelby last month.
“It’s only his 3rd start….. it will be a nice 3 years for the future”.
The winner can be backed at 20/1 with most bookmakers for the first Classic of the 2023 Flat season, the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, in May at Newmarket.
It was almost a case of daylight theft by Mohammed Tabti and General Lee as they tried to do everything in downloading the BetVictor Handicap Stakes app, only to get caught in the latest furlong by Postwick and Richard Kingscote.
In tactics, their namesake, General Robert E. Lee, would have been happy, they went more than 10, even 15 lengths ahead at the halfway point. Unfortunately, the post came too late for the victory, but they managed to keep Frantanck in second place.
Postwick was held back as the peloton began their 10 furlong journey. General Lee went straight for the lead and attempted to etch the opposition into the ground, burning being a fitting verb as the mercury began to climb towards 35 degrees on the Berkshire track.
Definite, Kingman’s son who was kicked out 11/4 favorite. The favorite was never able to land a hit and dropped to the back, with Highland Premiere never a factor.
Postwick, despite an early draw, made good progress with Frantanck, and he was the first who was the only one in the peloton able to pull up the brave leader. Postwick eventually pulled away to score by two and a half lengths, with Frantanck taking third.
Documentthe veteran of the field, won the “Play Pick 6 At BetVictor” Handicap Stakes under Jack Mitchell, for trainer Kevin Frost and owners KF Racing, Humphreys, Orr and Glover Priest.
The nine-year-old made sure the long journey back to Newark was a happy one as he scored from ¾ from length at favorite Dance Fever, showing his now-back abilities on a winning mark in style.
Suzy’s shoes made it a quick double for Eve Johnson-Houghton as she won the Mettal UK British EBF Restricted Maiden Stakes under Charles Bishop for owner Mr Marc Middleton-Heath.
On a doubles day in which her father Nathaniel was on the scoresheet twice, she accelerated smartly at the end of the 11 furlongs journey to score five-and-a-half lengths behind favorite Seek, who was at again sired by Nathaniel.
The last race of the day was the Rangers Riding Ranch Amateur Jockeys Handicap Stakes, won in style by Saratoga Gold under a confident Miss Kayleigh Stephens.
Trained by Charles Hills, the former course winner was sent into the lead inside the final furrow under a turn of the jockey’s hands and heels, moving away from another frontispiece course winner to score with a comfortable 2 and a quarter lengths, the pair a further 4 and a half lengths ahead of Psyche.
Among the beaten riders, young equestrian sensation Miss Fern O’Brien said her mount, Castel Gandolfo, ran badly and needed a jockey “a bit stronger than her”. However, she rode the horse well, and he can be a man to watch when he is sent back over hurdles.
There was a bonus race on the card to open the proceedings, with the Royal Cavalry Of Oman International Stakes, a Group 2 for Arabian horses. It was won by the company Athbah Racing Ekleel Athbahwho produced a fine late flourish to take the opener under Tadhg O’Shea for coach Mr Philip Collington.
Written by Jack and Tom Williams
Main photo: Jumby (red cap) winning the Hungerford (JTW Equine Images)