With the flat season winding to a close, Saturday’s card was one of the most exciting left to be held in the UK this season. Racegoers had seven races to enjoy which included two excellent Group 1 races, the Cheveley Park and Middle Park Stakes, and one excellent Group 2 in the form of the 2022 Royal Lodge Stakes where the winner would qualify for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf to be held later this year.
2022 Royal Lodge Stakes
Group 2, 1 mile, open to horses aged two. Total prize pool £100,000 – winner qualifies for Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf
- The Foxes +850
- Dubai Mile +1600
- Flying Honours -350
A high-class field of just four runners headed down to post for this year’s Royal Lodge. As prestigious as they come, the winner of this race would not only add their names to the list of iconic winners but also land a ticket to this year’s Breeders’ Cup with a fully paid entry into this year’s Juvenile Turf.
According to both the pundits and the bookmakers, there was only ever going to be one winner of this race and that was the Charlie Appleby-trained Flying Honours. A winner of two of his three career starts heading into the race, his win last time out in Listed company was as impressive as it gets and he started as the rightful favorite.
At the other end of the market was the Mark and Charlie Johnstone-trained Dubai Mile, and it was he who led the party of four along in the early stages of the race.
With just four runners, the order of the race would remain largely unchanged until the runners hit the two-furlong pole. From here, long-time leader Dubai Mile pushed hard to get away from the tightly grouped pack, but all three of his rivals were able to cover his move effectively.
With the race hotting up, the eye was drawn to the center of the track where Flying Honours looked to be gathering real momentum. Joining Dubai Mile it looked like he would get past but he couldn’t quite poke his head in front.
With the pair of Flying Honours and Dubai Mile taking each other on, The Foxes, who started third in the betting found the perfect seam up the inside rail.
Able to plug on with the rail to guide him, The Foxes were able to run his own race. Powering home, he joined the two leaders at the furlong pole and made it a three-way battle in the race for the line.
Still Flying Honours looked like the horse to beat, but he just didn’t have the acceleration to burst clear. Instead, it was The Foxes who was able to get the upper hand, sticking his head out well inside the final furlong he was able to hang onto the victory winning by a half-length.
All four runners finished within two lengths, lending itself to a really exciting race. Winning trainer Andrew Balding wasn’t sure whether his charge would take up his place in Keeneland and that will need to be monitored over the next few months.
Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes
Group 1, Six Furlongs, open to fillies aged two. Total prize pool £283,000
- Lezoo +550
- Meditate +150
- Mawj +1000
The first Group 1 race of the day was the Cheveley Park Stakes where ten runners took their chance.
Favorite for the race was the Aiden O’Brien-trained Meditate who was looking to extend her trainer’s fine record in the race having won three of the last five renewals.
Things were looking good for O’Brien as Meditate’s jockey Ryan Moore was more than happy to be up with the pace. Traveling strongly throughout it looked as if the race would fall into place, however, there were several other horses that had different ideas.
Swingalong for Karl Burke broke alertly and at the two-furlong pole tried to put the race to bed. Showing a game attitude, she plugged along and finished fourth.
Mawj was another danger and at the two-furlong pole looked to be traveling best of all. An inconsistent runner, today looked being one of her better days but during the closing strides, she was just edged out into third.
Lezoo for Roger Varian headed into the Cheveley Park with three wins from four career starts and at a price of +550 looked one of the value plays of the race.
A slow start seemed to hamper her chances but with the excellent William Buick on board, she gradually eased her way into the race. Showing a great turn of foot, Buick fired Lezoo into the lead at the two-furlong pole.
Matching the favorite for pace, Lezoo had the lead at the furlong pole and never looked back. The win for Roger Varian was his first in the race and adds to the impressive tally of Group races that he has already notched up during his career.
Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes
Group 1, 6 furlongs, open to colts aged two. Total prize pool £283,000
- Blackbeard +330
- The Antarctic +1600
- Persian Force +600
The final Group 1 action of the day came in the form of the Middle Park Stakes. Eight horses lined up for their shot of glory, with the winner looking likely to be a major player in next year’s 2,000 Guineas.
In a race littered with quality, the money came for the Karl Burke-trained Marshman who was looking to build on his second place in the Gimcrack Stakes, with many believing that the ground and conditions were ideal.
Up with the pace throughout, there were concerns that Marshman was wasting precious energy by pulling and refusing to settle. When push came to shove and jockey Clifford Lee asked for more, it was clear that Marshman had no more to give and would only finish in 3rd.
In our race preview, we flagged that Blackbeard out of the Aiden O’Brien yard was our pick but it looked in some doubt. Before the off Blackbeard was friendless in the market and drifted like a barge. Having been unruly at the start, jockey Ryan Moore eased Blackbeard into the race and it seemed to settle his mount.
Content to be pulled along, Blackbeard and Moore made their move two furlongs out and looked to be traveling best of all.
At the furlong pole, he hit the front, and despite hanging on the run-in, he would not be caught and netted his second successive Group 1 race.
Blackbeard beat his stablemate The Antarctic who ran a huge race at a big price to finish second.
The pair of O’Brien horses beat Persian Prince into third.
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