October 23, 2021

Ranch Hand swoops at Lingfield

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Ranch Hand showed a neat turn of foot in the straight to land the Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes at Lingfield.

James Doyle produced Andrew Balding’s five-year-old with a well-timed run to lead just over a furlong out.

Ranch Hand quickly put the race to bed and he galloped on strongly to hold the late challenge of Rock Eagle by a length and a half, with Lucky Deal third.

There was a strong pace early on with Australis, Ranch Hand and Amtiyaz to the fore, but the tempo slackened before the field passed the winning post for the first time.

Martin Harley was the first to make his move, sending Rainbow Dreamer on four furlongs out, but the 3-1 favourite could not hold on as his rivals hunted him down in the straight. He eventually finished fourth – and Harley later received a four-day suspension for careless riding, covering April 16, 17, 19 and 20.

Balding said: “I thought James always had him in the right position but that he might get caught flat-footed off the very slow pace, but he’s a classy horse and got out of trouble.

“He’s now four from four on the all-weather – and while I was worried whether he would act round Lingfield, I shouldn’t have been.

“This was very much Plan B, because we ran out of jumping options, and I think we’ll stick to the Flat now. The most likely target is the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot.”

Doyle added: “It was a messy race that lacked pace, making it very frustrating because I jumped soundly, but Hollie (Doyle, on Amtiyaz) took my position.

“The good thing was that when the race opened up he was fine. His run in a Listed race at Newmarket was pretty solid, and I knew he had the form coming into this.”

Pholas mowed down the opposition in the closing stages to cause a 25-1 upset for Hollie Doyle in the Ladbrokes All-Weather Fillies’ And Mares’ Championships Conditions Stakes.

George Boughey’s four-year-old came from last to first thanks to a devastating turn of foot in the hands of his record-breaking jockey.

Five-time course winner Fizzy Feet made the running from Arafi and Nirodha, but the pace was only steady – and all six were in with a chance as they turned for home.

It was Pholas, running for the ninth time this year already, who held all the answers – charging late to get home by a neck from Shimmering Dawn, with Arafi third.

The disappointing horse in the race was the 4-5 favourite, Indie Angel, who could not get in a blow.

Doyle said: “I thought she was a well-handicapped horse, but that it was a big ask for her in a conditions race.

“To win she needed to do things smoothly and get into a rhythm, with a pace to aim at. She hit a flat spot two out, but picked up really well.”

Diligent Harry looked a smart sprinter in the making when storming to victory in the Ladbrokes 3 Year Old All-Weather Championships Conditions Stakes.

The Clive Cox-trained colt came with a pulsating run to wear down Mighty Gurkha in the final furlong and win in cosy fashion.

Adam Kirby, who was on a high after taking the Sprint Championships on Summerghand, had Diligent Harry in a good position just off the pace.

Bravado led in the early stages, but Hollie Doyle soon took it up on Mighty Gurkha after getting across to the rail from a wide draw.

Mighty Gurkha led into the straight, but Diligent Harry (2-1 favourite) had him in his sights and kicked away to score by two lengths. Mighty Gurkha held Zamaani by a nose for second spot.

Diligent Harry was cut to 16-1 from 25-1 for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot with Betfair and Paddy Power.

Cox said: “I’m over the moon, because having not run since January it was a big ask. He was beaten here last time, but on the positive side he gained knowledge of the track, and he’s shown today that when it all goes right it’s fabulous.

“He’s as exciting as a few of the good sprinters we’ve had, but as he’s done a lot in a short time, I shall give him a recharge now.”

Kirby said: “On his previous run here we got bumped out on the turn. It’s been a learning curve for the horse and a lot has happened in three and a half months.

“He’s still a bit babyish, but has taken a step forward. It’s a long way to Ascot, but I’m looking forward to the future.”