Johnson eyeing Ascot glory

Howard Johnson is targeting Royal Ascot success with South Central following an impressive debut win at Carlisle.

Sent off an 11-1 chance for the Racing UK Median Auction Maiden Stakes, South Central was smartly away under Robert Winston and quickened up impressively before the halfway mark to pass the post with 13 lengths to spare over What A Fella.

Johnson was suitably impressed with his charge and is now mulling the options at the Royal meeting later this month.

He said: “We have always thought he was a good horse and the plan is to go to Royal Ascot for the Norfolk Stakes or the Coventry Stakes – five or six furlongs won’t make any difference to him.”

Winston was also more than satisfied with South Central, adding: “When I pressed the button over two furlongs out, he really quickened on and if anything had come at him he would have picked up again.

“He is probably the best two-year-old Howard has ever had, particularly at this stage, and if he improves he is certainly a Group horse.”

Claret And Amber (11-4 favourite) made up for lost time as he returned to winning form in the Carlisle Conference Group and Waverley TBS Claiming Stakes.

Richard Fahey’s charge was sidelined by a leg problem for over a year before returning to action this season but the six-year-old was seen to good effect in beating Efidium by two and three-quarter lengths.

Fahey said: “That’s all right, because his owner Hazel Tattersall is 50 today. She has put all her birthday money on him and they are going to have a party tonight!

“Claret And Amber has had his problems. If he keeps sound he will win more races, but if he goes wrong he will be retired.”

There was a sting in the tail for jockey Paul Hanagan though, as he was banned for one day (June 16) for careless riding.

Apprentice Kelly Harrison coaxed the best out of Red River Boy to register a shock 20-1 success in the TurfTV Handicap.

Winning trainer Chris Fairhurst was represented by his wife Judy, who said: “I am absolutely delighted – we were ready for another winner.

“It is a pleasant surprise and it is just a question of motivation with Red River Boy but, in fairness, he is still only a baby.”

Apprentice David Nolan rode out his claim when bringing the Declan Carroll-trained Portrush Storm (100-30 joint-favourite) home in front in the Azure Fillies’ Handicap.

Carroll said: “The rain they had here helped, this filly likes a bit of cut in the ground and she has not had it for a while.

“I am pleased that David has ridden through his claim. I saddled his first winner, Bawsian, at Doncaster when I was assistant to Les Eyre and now I have saddled his last one as an apprentice.”

The John Quinn-trained Boy Dancer (14-1) just got up in the last strides under Jamie Moriarty to win the Apprentice Handicap.

Quinn’s representative Graham Gray said: “Boy Dancer likes this track, he also likes a fast-run race and running through horses, it makes him feel like a king.

“Now he has got his head in front he could win more races.”

Gary Bartley, who rode fourth-placed Wind Shuffle was suspended for two days (June 16 and 22) for careless riding.

Turn And River was a surprise 25-1 winner of the Cumbria Community Foundation Handicap for rider Mark Lawson and trainer Mel Brittain.

The winner’s stablemate Fulford started as the 5-1 favourite for the six-furlong heat but beat only one of the 16 runners as Turn And River powered to a two-and-a-quarter-length success.

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