Racing round-up

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Ian Balding was all smiles at Salisbury yesterday after Mr Sponge gave loyal patron Paul Mellon a 90th birthday present with success in the Fonthill Stud & Summerdown Stables Maiden Stakes. "That gives me immense pleasure as it meant a lot to us," Balding said. "Hopefully Mr Mellon will have been watching the race on SIS at his Virginia base in the States.

"As owners come and go, he's incredible. I am the third generation to train for him and hopefully he will be around long enough for my son Andrew to make it four in a few years' time," added the Kingsclere trainer, a director at the Wiltshire course.

Mellon, whose first racehorse was chaser Drinmore Lad in 1935, had his most famous moment in 1971 when Mill Reef, trained by Balding, won the Derby.

The American owner hopes to visit these shores for a month in July if his doctors allow him to travel, and doubtless Balding will ensure his colours are carried to victory during that time. Frankie Dettori always had Mr Sponge well placed before sending the colt to the front at halfway and lengthening five lengths clear of Khaffaaq. Dettori had earlier initiated a double when Luca Cumani's Winter Garden, sent off a hot 2-7 favourite, had to pull out all the stops to thwart newcomer Tycooness for the Bishopstone Conditions Stakes. "He was always going well for me but he's still a bit of a baby and you have to get at him as he only does as much as he wants to," Dettori said. The well-touted Desert Lady ran on well to take the Whiteparish Novice Fillies Stakes for Roger Charlton in the hands of Tim Sprake at the expense of Universal Lady. Barranak found underfoot conditions to his liking after overnight rain in the Amber Trust Handicap and duly took the race, beating Lucky Dip by two lengths. The Bollinger Champagne Challenge Series Handicap (For Gentleman Amateur Riders) went to Silver Lining who prospered from a good ride from Jamie Goldstein, winning his first-ever Flat race. Chris Rutter, successful earlier aboard Barranak, doubled up when bringing Lomberto with a late dash to lift the 10-furlong Barford St Martin Limited Stakes.

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