Sapphire sparkles for Coolmore and Hannon

It would be easy to envisage Richard Hannon’s link with the Coolmore empire growing stronger after an emphatic Salisbury victory for Pink Sapphire.

It would be easy to envisage Richard Hannon’s link with the Coolmore empire growing stronger after an emphatic Salisbury victory for Pink Sapphire.

The triumvirate of Michael Tabor, John Magnier and Derrick Smith acquired a 50% stake in Canford Cliffs last summer, with the Queen Anne Stakes winner set to stand at Coolmore Stud at the end of his career.

While Canford Cliffs still runs in the colours of original owner Robin Heffer, Pink Sapphire is a new venture in Tabor’s orange and blue silks and secured the British Stallion Studs EBF Ashbrittle Stud Maiden Fillies’ Stakes by a solid two and three-quarter lengths.

She had been sent off the 4-11 favourite on account of the fantastic form of her debut at Haydock, with the winner Shumoos finishing second in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot and runner-up Frederick Engels taking the Windsor Castle at the same meeting.

The 2010 winner Perfect Tribute is now a Group-class filly for Clive Cox and Pink Sapphire appears considered in a similar vein.

“I like her a lot,” said Hannon.

“She’s the first I’ve had for Coolmore and I thought she would win last time but it turned out to be a very good race.

“She might just end up going for the Cherry Hinton Stakes (at Newmarket on July 8).”

Hannon’s excellence in the juvenile sphere was epitomised by a one-two-four for the East Everleigh yard in the Begbies Traynor Group Maiden Stakes.

Hughes and Minal went off the 5-6 favourite but they were short-headed close home by Pat Dobbs and the unraced Red Seventy (14-1), with 16-1 shot Tidy Affair taking fourth.

Hannon added: “I thought the second horse would win but you just never know - I’ve got a lot of nice two-year-olds and they’re starting to come through now.”

The Ashbrittle Stud Bibury Cup has fostered a reputation for throwing up progressive three-year-old stayers like Hi Calypso and Vulcanite in recent times and there were a handful of touted contenders again.

But 16-1 shot Whiplash Willie and David Probert showed them a clean pair of heels and trainer Andrew Balding is entitled to think a little more ambitiously.

“The visor has really helped – his sire Phoenix Reach wore them – and we could look at a mile-and-a-half handicap at Goodwood, or maybe the Melrose at York,” mused Balding.

Kieren Fallon boasted a 50% course strike rate since 2007 at the start of the day – and he enhanced his statistics with a treble.

Mundana, from the stable of Luca Cumani, was a huge eyecatcher on her debut at Goodwood and went off at 1-3 for the Smith & Williamson Maiden Fillies’ Stakes.

Fallon appeared to be nudging her along with two furlongs to go but did not need to pick up his stick to pull three-quarters of a length clear of Noverton.

“She’s a King’s Best and they go on any ground,” said Fallon.

“She was unlucky at Goodwood but she has done that nicely and hopefully she can step up from here.”

No blame should be apportioned to 5lb claimer Laura Pike for the narrow defeat of Vainglory in the Molson Coors Noel Cannon Memorial Trophy, but Fallon was in the mood, forcing Leviathan (5-2 favourite) up by a short head despite taking a scenic route across Wiltshire.

Winning trainer Tony Newcombe said: “I asked Kieren if he’d stopped off to look at Stonehenge on the way, he went that far across, but he said the horse got taken back and it was the best way to find his way through.

“We beat Julienas fair and square at Sandown, then he won the Royal Hunt Cup, so who knows what might have happened if we’d aimed higher. There’s a £70,000 mile handicap back at Sandown in a fortnight and we might look at that.”

Fallon completed the trick with another commanding effort on Dead Cool (3-1) in the New Forest Farm Machinery/John Deere Fillies’ Handicap.

“She has done well to win, as she fell out of the stalls, and Kieren said he followed the wrong one through,” remarked trainer Hughie Morrison.

“She’s just a nice, progressive little filly.”

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