Sky Lantern lights the way to Breeders Cup after late entry

 

The Curragh

Racing gambles take many forms and a successful punt here yesterday had nothing to do with the betting ring. Hong Kong-based owner Ben Keswick paid a late entry fee of €22,000 (£17,500) to run his Sky Lantern in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, Ireland's top contest for juvenile fillies, despite her having been beaten twice at a much lower level. And his faith in the judgement of trainer Richard Hannon was gloriously justified as the grey romped home.

The return on the day was a prize of €130,000 (£103,000). But more than that the daughter of Red Clubs, who cost £75,000 as a yearling, has massively increased her value with a Group One win. And she has proved her right to try for an even more lucrative potential racetrack payday, a $1m purse at the Breeders Cup meeting in California in November.

Sky Lantern, always travelling comfortably, quickened as soon as Richard Hughes asked, going to the final furlong. The 7-1 shot swiftly put two and a half lengths between her and the best two of the home side, the 33-1 outsider Scintillula and 3-1 favourite Harasiya.

It was a performance Hughes and the Hannon team in Wiltshire suspected was within her capabilities. "After she was beaten at Goodwood," said Hughes, "I was convinced I'd been on the best filly in the race. She got involved in two barging matches and she started thinking of that and stopped thinking about going forward.

"There is always the chance that an experience like that will send a filly the wrong way mentally. I decided to ride her positive this time and I knew I'd win before halfway. She was always going well and was perfectly straightforward about it all."

Sky Lantern gave Hannon, the reigning champion, a first top-level success of the campaign. "She's good," said Richard jr, the trainer's son and assistant, "and we knew she was better than maybe she's showed on the track. The owner is a sporting type so we took the chance coming here.

"The filly is robust and carries a lot of condition, and that will stand her in good stead through the rest of the year and as a three-year-old. She looks a bit like a donkey with her great big ears, but she doesn't run like one."

The seven-furlong contest regularly produces winners who excel at three, and Sky Lantern's effort propelled her up the betting for next year's 1,000 Guineas, lists left rather in limbo by the untimely death at York last month of the early favourite Newfangled.

Certify, who beat yesterday's heroine at Newmarket, heads the market at 14-1 with Sky Lantern and her Hannon stablemate Maureen at 16-1.

It is Frankel, of course, who has been carrying Khaled Abdullah's colours with particular distinction and brilliance this season. But they also serve who have won 20 of 37 races, earned £1.25m, and are still cheerfully pounding the gallops at the age of seven. Step forward Famous Name, who took his Group race score to 13 in yesterday's Solonaway Stakes.

"He's one of the most rewarding horses I've ever trained," said Dermot Weld of the son of Dansili. "He's just a joy to have about the place. He just loves life, loves being a racehorse and has an extraordinary appetite for his job. He's physically very sound but mentally is more amazing. It's very unusual for a full horse of his age to retain the enthusiasm he does."

Pat Smullen has ridden Famous Name in all bar one of his races. "You develop such a bond with a horse like him," he said. "He's a pleasure to ride and to look forward to riding. He's my boy."

Turf Account

CHRIS McGRATH'S NAP: Pugnacious (3.00 Newcastle)

First-time blinkers on his switch to turf seemed to help last time and fast ground can bring further improvement.

NEXT BEST: Loch Moy (2.00 Newcastle)

Showed his inexperience on his debut but ran with promise nonetheless, and improvement is pretty much guaranteed.

ONE TO WATCH: Dusky Queen (Richard Fahey), second in both her nurseries, would have been closer to a smart sort last time but for being hemmed in and must still be judged on a fair mark.

WHERE THE MONEY'S GOING: Mijhaar, who missed a run at Sandown on Saturday because of too-firm ground, attracted Cambridgeshire support yesterday, backed to 20-1 from 25s with Paddy Power.

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