Mercurial Hughes works the oracle

Richard Hughes hit such a run of form at Newmarket he was even able to alchemise certain defeat into victory aboard Lion Sands in the betinternet.com Fred Archer Stakes, part of a near-23-1 treble for the jockey.

With two impressive Richard Hannon-trained juvenile winners already under the belt, things looked tough for Hughes even well inside the final of 12 furlongs in the Listed event, with Ted Durcan and 8-11 favourite Tranquil Tiger in full command.

But Tranquil Tiger seemed to falter in the final strides and Lion Sands (100-30) was able to get up on the line for an unlikely head success.

“The lion tames the tiger,” quipped winning trainer Luca Cumani.

“I thought we were going to have to settle for second but Richard is on fire.

“A mile and a half to a mile and six on this kind of ground is his trip, so we’ll have a think as to what to do next.”

Betfair reported £19,000 to have been traded on Henry Cecil’s Tranquil Tiger at the minimum 1.01, while the stewards took no action towards some interference between the pair.

Hughes’ most valuable success for Hannon came in the Listed betinternet.com Empress Stakes, thanks to a thoroughly likeable performance from Baileys Cacao.

A step up to the highest level is now in order for the 7-4 favourite, who was challenged by Select (13-2) but shrugged her off with little trouble to oblige by two lengths.

“I thought she might run a lot better in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot (when seventh) but she really needs six furlongs,” considered the trainer’s son and assistant Richard Hannon jnr.

“We have put her in the Moyglare Stakes and the Goffs Million so it looks like she’s heading off to Ireland, but we could also come back here for the Cherry Hinton.”

Hannon also maintained his stranglehold on the Sign-Up Bonus At betinternet.com Maiden Stakes as Weald Park made it four victories for the yard in the last five years.

Punters took notice and sent the chestnut, one of only two with previous racecourse experience, off the even-money favourite.

Hughes made all the running to win easily by three lengths with Weald Park receiving rave reviews from Hannon jnr.

“We’ve always thought an awful lot of him and he has a great temperament,” he said.

“This wasn’t his Derby today and at the moment, he could be anything.”

Debutant Imaam displayed abundant promise in second.

The 35-year-old Hughes was only a head away from a four-timer in the Group Three betinternet.com Criterion Stakes but Racer Forever (6-1) was not in a conciliatory mood.

Although the winner’s desire has been questioned in the past, he dictated the pace under Jimmy Fortune and repelled Hughes’s 10-11 favourite King of Dixie.

Bruce Raymond, racing manager to the winning owner Mohamed Obaida, said: “We always felt he could win one of these as although he tends to keep 10% to himself, he is a speed horse and they played into his hands.”

An easier winner was the William Haggas-trained Magya (9-4 favourite), who made it three firsts and two seconds from five starts in the Best Odds At betinternet.com EBF Fillies’ Handicap.

“She has a really good attitude and we might look for a little Listed race for her,” said Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Hamdan Al Maktoum.

Kerrin McEvoy and Danish Art (4-1) claimed pole position in a desperate four-way finish for the Play Live Casino At betinternet.com Handicap.

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