LORD Shanakill made his Group One form count when taking the Betfair Cup on the opening day at Glorious Goodwood yesterday.
Last year’s Prix Jean Prat winner has spent most of his career with the currently disqualified Karl Burke but after a brief stint in America he joined Henry Cecil, who has rather rebuilt the son of Speightstown from scratch this season.
Cecil had tried Lord Shanakill at distances between six furlongs and a mile, but an easy recent victory in a seven-furlong Listed race at Chester provided proof of his optimum distance and his determined finish under Tom Queally to lift the Group Two prize (better known as the Lennox Stakes) by a head means a step back up to championship level is now in the offing.
“The Chester race gave him a lot of confidence and I loved the way he picked up at the end,” said Queally of the 13-2 shot.
“He’s a classy horse and people forget he’s a Group One winner, his class showed today when it mattered.
“It’s up to Henry from here. You’d hope he’ll get further as he gets older but at the moment I’d say seven is his best trip.
“He takes a couple of strides to go through the gears, but once he got there he was flying.”
Cat Junior came with an even more belated effort to take second, trainer Brian Meehan reporting: “There are all the seven-furlong races to go for in the autumn, right the way through to the Prix de la Foret provided the ground is not too soft.”
The 7-2 favourite, Alain de Royer-Dupre’s Dalghar, had first run but had to settle for third.
“He was in front a long time, it’s a long straight here and that was the problem,” rued the Frenchman.
“Seven furlongs is as far as he’d want to go and we’ll think about the Park Stakes at Doncaster next.”
Memories of last year’s Betfair Molecomb Stakes came flooding back as Richard Hughes stole the plaudits on Zebedee.
Hughes had given another Richard Hannon juvenile, Monsieur Chevalier, a fearless ride in 2009 and waited until the latest possible moment aboard the mottled grey and brown 2-1 favourite before pressing the button.
Hannon said: “I’m going to have a heart attack if Hughesie keeps riding for me!
“He is just one of those horses that keeps improving and I think there is more to come.
“The horse has got a lot of options and I’ll have to see which of the sales races he’s entered in, but he could well go for the Gimcrack Stakes at York.
“We’ll hold him up again and he’ll get the six furlongs.”
Hughes made similar comments as he did about Monsieur Chevalier, who has not been seen since his two-year-old days.
“Who knows what will happen next year but I think he’s a horse you want to make hay with now, we thought he was our fastest two-year-old at the start of the year,” he said.
Stone Of Folca was only a neck behind, although Zebedee won a shade comfortably. Second-placed trainer John Best said: “There was only him and Zebedee travelling and I could always see him cruising in behind us. He is another Hannon special.
“I think the Nunthorpe is still the target as he only has 8st 1lb in it.”
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