Supersub Smullen shines again on Palmer's 'Master'
Pat Smullen has continued where he left off last year as the go-to rider of choice with a scintillating double at Newmarket yesterday.
When not required by Dermot Weld, the brilliant eight-time domestic champion has been in increasing demand from outside stables.
His 2015 Irish Oaks and Prix de l'Opera triumphs on the Hugo Palmer-trained Covert Love were two prime examples of his standing as a utility rider beyond compare, and that association was rekindled in fine style on the Rowley course yesterday.
Smullen took the card's opening Wood Ditton Stakes on the 3/1 favourite Sky Kingdom for William Haggas, before executing a masterful front-running steer to plunder the £100,000 Tattersalls Million Sprint aboard Palmer's odds-on Gifted Master.
The Offaly native, who has ridden three winners from five rides in England this term, adopted similar tactics when winning a £500,000 Tattersalls event over seven furlongs on the son of Kodiac last October.
On that occasion, Gifted Master relegated Ballydoyle's Waterloo Bridge to second, and another Aidan O'Brien colt, Beacon Rock, filled the same place behind Gifted Master when William Buick subsequently won a mile Group Three on him at the course.
Yesterday, it was Waterloo Bridge's turn to again play second fiddle to the versatile gelding over six furlongs, as Ryan Moore's mount couldn't lay a glove on the authoritative winner, which has Royal Ascot's Jersey Stakes as its main early target. Today, O'Brien and Moore combine for Shogun in the Craven Stakes, although they look up against it, with the Racing Post Trophy third Foundation odds-on for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori.
In the £200,000 Tattersalls Millions Trophy over 10 furlongs, they may have better prospects with Landofhopeandglory. A winner on its Galway bow last year before finishing second three times, the High Chaparral colt has entries in the Dante and the Derby. Foundation shares second spot in the Derby betting, behind O'Brien's US Army Ranger and alongside Michael Stoute's Midterm, which has been declared to make its reappearance in a three-horse race under Moore at Newbury tomorrow.
Also on today's card, Evanna McCutcheon's mud-loving Maarek tackles a six-furlong Group Three under Jamie Spencer, having run well to be third on its Doncaster return. "He has come out of his race at Doncaster very well and we're very happy with him," McCutcheon said. "We had to bring him over to let him take his chance."
Meanwhile, over jumps at Cheltenham this evening, Jonathan Sweeney's Barnahash Rose and Jessica Harrington's newcomer Katy P contest separate mares' races.