Anjaal primed to go the extra furlong
Neither trainer nor jockey has been in his service as long as others who could testify gratefully to the fidelity of their patron, but both left the sunshine and flowers of the July Course with optimism that Anjaal could yet seal their growing roles at the centre of Sheikh Hamdan's racing empire.
The winner of the first big juvenile race at this meeting, thriving in a fashion long familiar in two-year-olds trained by Richard Hannon, was produced with a terrific late surge by Paul Hanagan. Anjaal had proved too green to justify heavy support when making his debut at the Guineas meeting, over on the Rowley Mile, but broke his maiden impressively at Beverley last month and has now scaled the next rung on the ladder in trying six furlongs for the first time.
By just outstripping the acceleration of Figure Of Speech, who had seemed poised to land the Portland Place Properties July Stakes for Godolphin, Anjaal earned a quote of only 16-1 from Ladbrokes for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas. "He was very green on his first run and a lot more relaxed today," Hanagan said. "He took forever to get going, and will probably get a bit farther. He has a great temperament, and really did stick his neck out when he needed to."
Coral were happy to offer 33-1 for the Guineas, and his pedigree is equivocal on stamina, but Hannon's son, assistant and namesake felt that his finish from off the pace already demanded the extra distance of a race like the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster. "We gave him a nice break after Beverley and he's done very well for it," Hannon Jnr. said. "He looked there like he needs seven furlongs, and we'll definitely step him up. He was first off the bridle today."
Another with Doncaster in September on his agenda is Feel Like Dancing, who is 20-1 with the sponsors for the Ladbrokes St Leger after winning a sprint finish to the Bahrain Trophy under an alert ride from William Buick. But this race was spoiled by a slow early pace and his case for now depends largely on the supervision of a man who has won two of the last three Legers, John Gosden. "Every run, he has learned something new and improved," Buick said. "I don't think he is ever going to be flashy, and he's a bit babyish, a bit lazy, but he's game and sticks his head out."
The other Group race, the Princess of Wales's Boylesports Stakes, provided the front-running Universal with the perfect platform to exploit an uncontested lead. He may find yet more improvement when stepped up in trip, while his trainer, Mark Johnston, has an emerging star on his hands in Maputo, who broke the course record in a runaway handicap success.
Hannon Jr saddles the outstanding three-year-old filly, Sky Lantern, against just three rivals in the Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes tomorrow. "If it turns into a sprint, that shouldn't worry her," he said. "She won a listed race over six furlongs and I think at least two of the others want at least a mile. I think she's also the one best suited by fast ground."
Elusive Kate could easily control things from the front but Sky Lantern (2.40) showed remarkable acceleration from a bad draw at Ascot. Ninjago (3.15) also gives the Hannon stable prospects after flattening out over an extra furlong in the Jersey Stakes, while Nardin (1.40) conversely could enjoy the step up in trip under Hanagan.
Fire Blaze (2.10) is meanwhile worth another chance against her Queen Mary conqueror, Rizeena, her very strong debut form suggesting that she can do better than she managed to show at Ascot, especially over this extra furlong.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Morpheus (4.50 Ascot) Looks fairly treated for his handicap debut – at the scene of famous wins for his half-brother, Frankel.
Kikonga (3.40 Ascot) Gave winner a start when missing hat-trick at Pontefract last time but can do better for this stiffer test.
One to watch
Opinion (Sir Michael Stoute) Could not follow up Ascot success at Haydock on Saturday but remains a likely Ebor type after finishing well.
Where the money's going
Belgian Bill and Bertiewhittle, both previously 12-1, now share 8-1 favouritism for the 32Red Bunbury Cup at Newmarket.
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