Opera Gal produced a gutsy all-the-way triumph in the silks of racecourse chairman Jeff Smith in the Upavon Fillies’ Stakes at Salisbury yesterday.
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.”
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