Ekraar to bloom in Rose of Lancaster

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The Independent Online

The name of Ekraar is likely to be remembered with gratitude for some time by Marcus Tregoning. Three weeks ago the colt provided the trainer with his first winner of the season after a nightmare first half, and this afternoon at Haydock he looks set to continue the revival in the Kingwood House fortunes by taking the day's only domestic Group race, the Rose Of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock.

The name of Ekraar is likely to be remembered with gratitude for some time by Marcus Tregoning. Three weeks ago the colt provided the trainer with his first winner of the season after a nightmare first half, and this afternoon at Haydock he looks set to continue the revival in the Kingwood House fortunes by taking the day's only domestic Group race, the Rose Of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock.

Hopes were high for the son of Red Ransom after a promising two-year-old campaign, and although he put in a reasonable effort when fourth in the Poule D'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) in the spring, neither he nor his stablemates were firing. Tregoning shut up shop and when he opened his doors again Ekraar (2.50) bounced out in rude health with a confidence boosting five-length victory at Newbury over today's trip. "To have raced the horses when they were off-colour would have had a reverse effect," said Tregoning, "and closing down has paid dividends as we now have fresh horses. It may have benefitted Ekraar in particular, as he is a big horse who took a while to strengthen." Plans for the three-year-old are on hold until after this afternoon, but time may show that he was something to invest on in Group Three company.

Despite the small fields competing for purses totalling £400,000 in the Shergar Cup at Ascot, there are some decent horses on view, plus a dozen top international jockeys. Singapore's champion Saimee, though, is unlikely to have much of a ride on his British debut on Herbshan Dancer, running in the Stayers' from 43lb out of the handicap. Desert Magic (1.30), Knockholt (2.05), Auenklang (2.40), Turnberry Isle (3.15), Miletrian (3.50) and Little Rock (4.25) look the best bets.

Lester Piggott may have even more reason to ponder his decision to sell Superstar Leo after tomorrow's Independent Heinz 57 Phoenix Stakes at Leopardstown. After the daughter of College Chapel won the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, Piggott, her co-breeder and owner with partner Tony Hirschfield, found an offer from American interests too good to refuse. The filly promptly earned back £72,500 of her purchase price when she bolted home in a valuable contest at Newbury and now has the chance of further repayment in the even richer Leopardstown sprint, the first two-year-old Group One race of the European season.

The six-furlong race was taken last year by Fasliyev, the colt who ended the year as champion of his generation. That one was trained by Aidan O'Brien and his local dominance is such that his Ballydoyle operation fields five of a six-strong home team - including Freud, a full-brother to Giant's Causeway - against the five British challengers. Superstar Leo (Michael Hills), stepping up to six furlongs for the first time, is one of two fillies among the raiding party, the other being Dora Carrington (Pat Eddery), already proven at the distance and in better company than her rivals with victory from subsequent winner Enthused in the Cherry Hinton Stakes. The ability of Freud, beaten at odds of 1-5 on his debut, must be taken on trust and, despite a moderate draw, Superstar Leo (3.25) can continue her fairytale progress.

However she fares, Piggott may still have reason to smile, for today her older half-brother and William Haggas stablemate Royal Artist (3.05), in which he still has a share, contests the Joe Jennings Bookmakers Handicap at Newmarket. The Sweet Solera Stakes produced a smart one 12 months ago in Princess Ellen. Preference this time is for Lady Lahar (3.35).

After a good workout yesterday Crimplene, winner of the Nassau Stakes, was given the office by Clive Brittain to take on Sendawar in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville tomorrow.

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