Hannon follows traditional route to put Havana Gold's mettle to test


Chris McGrath
Monday 21 September 2015 12:45
Havana Gold, Richard Hannon's first string at Newmarket today
Havana Gold, Richard Hannon's first string at Newmarket today

Newmarket regulars still struggling to adjust to its new autumn schedule must rely on the exposed horizons of the Rowley Mile to retrieve their bearings. Tomorrow they have a Group One for juvenile fillies, transferred from Ascot in contentious horse-trading between the two courses a couple of years ago, but the three-day meeting opens with a race that preserves the vulnerable traditions of the sport's headquarters in the best possible spirit.

The Somerville Tattersall Stakes honours a man admired not only as Edwardian head of the celebrated firm of auctioneers, which still bears his family's name, but also in many other walks of life. He was a friend of Elgar, and climbed the Matterhorn on several occasions. How gratifying that nobody has yet managed to efface a character of such ageless breadth from a calendar so anxious to move with the times.

Two key runners are saddled by Richard Hannon. Havana Gold should in theory be unbeaten in four starts, having been all set to win when his saddle slipped at Deauville. Under a penalty, however, he would have done well to hold on at Haydock last time. Regardless, the drop back to seven furlongs will suit and he is the choice of the champion jockey-elect. Richard Hughes might not be surprised, however, if Glean happens to outrun his odds. This son of Raven's Pass proved too free in a slowly run, three-runner affair at Salisbury last time, but none the less harried a smart prospect.

"Havana Gold is right up there with our best two-year-olds," Hannon said yesterday. "And though he won on the firm at Haydock, he will appreciate this slower ground. Glean won well first time out and Salisbury was a messy race. He's better than that, but not one who overdoes himself at home, so we are still learning about him."

Ektihaam, runner-up in the Dante before a luckless run in the Prix du Jockey Club, was beaten on his first start since at Goodwood yesterday. Blinkered for the first time in the Eve Trakway Foundation Stakes, he set the pace in testing conditions and was overhauled by Primevere halfway down the straight. While the winner was probably idling, Ektihaam kept on well enough and there was only a neck in it at the line. Primevere will soon be retired, so Roger Charlton may give her a shot at glory in the EP Taylor Stakes in Canada – funnily enough, itself a race that testifies to the importance of respecting past achievers.

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