Opera Gal a Salisbury show-stopper

Opera Gal a Salisbury show-stopper

Opera Gal produced a gutsy all-the-way triumph in the silks of racecourse chairman Jeff Smith in the Upavon Fillies' Stakes at Salisbury this afternoon.

The five-year-old, who Andrew Balding sent out to finish second to Primevere in the corresponding race 12 months ago, had run disappointingly on her previous 2012 outing at Royal Ascot.

As a result, she had been given a near two-month break, the last fortnight of which saw her staying at her owner's Littleton Stud.

According to Balding that had served to put the edge back on her and freshen her up for this Listed contest, in which Jimmy Fortune chose to make all on the well-supported 3-1 second-favourite.

Oojooba tried to muster a challenge from the quarter pole, but Opera Gal kept on strongly to score unchallenged, prompting Balding to observe: "She was just a bit flat, so we sent her back to Littleton to freshen her up.

"She will probably go to Germany next, for a Group Three at Baden-Baden."

The Smith silks will be evident in Balding's small team for York next week when Dreamspeed contests the Ebor.

Emirates Queen went off a shade of odds-on but was always having to be rousted by Kieren Fallon.

The combination was never involved, with the filly seeming to be ill at ease on the easy ground. Fallon reported this to the stewards and his mount was ordered to be routine tested.

One of the features of the past fortnight has been the rising fortunes of Marcus Tregoning, whose Saint Jerome proved a well-backed 13-8 winner in the British Stallion Studs Molson Coors Maiden Stakes.

Hayley Turner swooped late on the son of Jeremy, who carries the popular colours of Lady Tennant, whose Priors Lodge landed Salisbury's only Group race, the Sovereign Stakes, in 2002.

Lady Tennant named Saint Jerome after the medieval saint who, according to legend, extracted a thorn from a lion's paw. A famous picture depicting the act resides in one of the churches in Venice.

Tregoning will aim high with his winner and said: "I'm eyeing the sales race at Redcar, which should suit him.

"We don't have the power we used to have, but with the support of people like Lady Tennant I'm sure it will come back. We're relying on Askar Tau in the Lonsdale Cup."

Knave Of Clubs sprang a 33-1 shocker in the Goldring Security Services Pembroke Cup, showing an appreciation of the cut in the ground to score by a head from Juvenal in what proved a blanket finish.

His trainer Peter Makin said: "He'd won in the heavy at Ffos Las, and if it hadn't rained we'd have taken him out."

The rest of the card was all about Alan Jarvis, who saddled a double through Oetzi and King Vahe which took his tally to five winners and two doubles in the space of a week.

Jarvis' super-talented apprentice Michael Murphy shone on both horses, steering Oetzi home in the Champagne Joseph Perrier Handicap after the gelding had run off a straight line when striking the front at the distance.

The 4-1 shot had been 12-1 in the morning and Jarvis said: "The owners rang to ask where the gamble had come from and I couldn't tell them. Perhaps my winning run has attracted some new supporters."

King Vahe showed the benefits of a soft palate operation to take the CGA Racing Excellence Apprentice Handicap at 17-2.

His trainer explained: "He disappointed us on his second start last year so we put the camera down his throat and found he needed his soft palate lasering. It's clearly had the desired effect."

Clive Cox is another trainer who cannot stop saddling winners and Aint Got A Scooby (4-1) gave him a seventh scorer in just over a week when taking the Stevens Garnier Ltd Nursery under John Fahy.

"He's our seventh winner in the last week and a bit, which is very pleasing," said Cox.

"He didn't mind the rain and is a super colt. He was ill at ease at Epsom, and probably appreciated a track where he wasn't coming down a hill."

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