After his best ever National Hunt season, Donald McCain turned his attentions to the Flat and saddled the first two home in the StanJames.com Chester Cup through Ile De Re and Overturn.
The latter was attempting to add his name to the illustrious list of dual winners and following a fine run in the Champion Hurdle when second to Rock On Ruby, he was back on the Roodee with 7lb more than last year.
Heavy rain just before the race was not in Overturn’s favour and a flag start due to difficulties in moving the stalls in saturated ground made it a bit more of a lottery.
Nevertheless, Eddie Ahern bounced out Overturn and adopted his customary front-running role and everything else was in trouble two furlongs out apart from his new stablemate.
Ile De Re (10-1) was with Ian Williams until just a few weeks ago and was last seen in the Imperial Cup, but Jim Crowley always looked confident in winning by a length and three-quarters.
The Mark Johnston-trained duo of Gulf Of Naples and Eternal Heart took minor honours.
“Ian Williams deserves a lot of the credit as he did a lot of the work and we’ve only had him a few weeks,” said McCain.
“I thought Overturn would win two furlongs out but the weight on that ground has taken its toll.
“Overturn is in the Ascot Gold Cup as well as the Queen Alexandra and that race would suit him. I shall speak to Tim (Leslie, owner) but I expect he’ll end up running in one of those races at Ascot.
“We’d thought of the Northumberland Plate for Ile De Re but if he doesn’t win another race for us, it doesn’t matter.
“Flat racing is not the be-all-and-end-all for us but we are lucky to have some smashing horses that can do a job for us.”
Johnston’s Good Morning Star created a 50-1 stir in the Weatherbys Bank Cheshire Oaks by beating Aidan O’Brien’s Betterbetterbetter.
Owned by Dr Marwan Koukash and ridden by Franny Norton, the owner admitted the filly had been viewed as a “social” runner.
“She was my only social runner of the meeting. I rang Mark up and suggested we ran her as I had nothing else that would stay a mile and a half,” said Koukash.
“I had been looking for a claimer for her but we’ll probably take her to Royal Ascot now over a mile and a half (Ribblesdale Stakes) and see what happens.”
O’Brien intimated the runner-up could still head for the Investec Oaks despite her defeat.
Norton had earlier won the Manor House Stables Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes on Jo Hughes’ All Fur Coat (9-2) for a 279-1 double.
O’Brien did get on the scoreboard with the beautifully-bred Father Of Science (5-2 favourite) in the GL Events Owen Brown Maiden Stakes.
“He was very green the first time and he still looked that way, but he kept going and handled the ground,” said O’Brien.
“He’s a half-brother to High Chaparral by Galileo. He has a lovely mind and he could step up into one of the trials yet.
“I think he handled that ground but it’s not ideal for him, he’d prefer it better. I hope he keeps progressing.”
John Quinn has high hopes for Duchess Dora (9-4 favourite) this season after she got up late to deny Borderlescott a popular victory in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Conditions Stakes.
Tim Easterby’s Confessional (5-1) got back to winning ways in the Stellar Group Handicap in the hands of Paul Mulrennan.
“He loves Haydock and he loves Epsom so the two choices are the Dash or Temple,” said Easterby.
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