Spencer sets early pace in title race

JAMIE SPENCER moved two ahead of Neil Callan in the race for the British jockeys’ championship with a stylish double on Windsor’s opening card of the season.

The 2005 title winner was level with Callan on 10 at the start of the day, but with his rival drawing a blank at Wolverhampton and current holder Ryan Moore likely to be out injured for another month, Spencer opened a clear gap.

Both winners were trained by Ed Dunlop and landed the odds in taking fashion, notably King Of Argos (4-1 joint-favourite), who was more designer boutique than high-street catalogue store in the Coral Backing NSPCC Handicap.

Given the ice-cool treatment by Spencer, he sat well behind the frenetic pace set by Musical Note before slipping through the field in the home straight.

The three-and-a-half-length distance did not really do justice to the manner of his victory as he cantered away in a fast time.

Robin Trevor-Jones, Dunlop’s travelling head lad, said: “That was rather impressive. They went a million miles per hour early on, which suited us as we had a bad draw. We’ll play it by ear now, but he might have a nice race in him.”

The Gainsborough-owned Fort Amhurst later justified 5-2 favouritism in the Arena Leisure Plc Maiden Stakes by a length and a half, with Spencer positioned just off the pace and quickening away sharply in the closing stages.

Sauze d’Oulx (10-1) proved far sharper for a previous outing by making all for a Millman family success in the in the Reading Post Maiden Stakes.

Trained by Rod, owned by his wife and ridden by son James, the juvenile showed a little on his debut at Folkestone but bounded away from the stalls to create a clear lead.

The 5-6 favourite Ten Down closed him up entering the final furlong, but Sauze d’Oulx pulled out a little more for a three-quarter length verdict.

“He was a bit green first time, but he was very fit today and has beaten some horses he might not have done later in the season,” said Rod Millman.

“He knew the job today. This was his race – there are no grand plans, but he’s in the Super Sprint, races like that.”

Alex Hales made a mark with another bargain-basement purchase as Shawhill (7-2) captured the 118 118 Claiming Stakes.

Hales swept up a fair few modest affairs on the all-weather during the winter and this filly built on her efforts on the sand, taking the lead at halfway under Jerry O’Dwyer and competently holding off the challenge of News Of The Day by a length and a half.

“I bought her for £1,200 at the Ascot sales, so you can’t do much better than that,” said the trainer.

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