Tuesday 17 July 2018

Agent targets Curragh bid as Fortune returns in style

Paul Hanagan drives Adaay to victory at Newbury yesterday
Paul Hanagan drives Adaay to victory at Newbury yesterday

Graham Clark

Jimmy Fortune had a smile back on his face after celebrating his first winner since returning from injury when steering the progressive Agent Murphy to a decisive success in the Betfred Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury.

The 43-year-old, who made his comeback at Salisbury on Thursday following a near two-month lay-off after fracturing two vertebrae in a fall aboard Spark Plug in the Royal Hunt Cup, enjoyed a perfect ride aboard the four-year-old.

Although Oisin Murphy tried to put the stamina of Pallasator to good use by forcing the pace early on, it had a limited effect and was not enough to see off Agent Murphy, Windshear and the globetrotting veteran Red Cadeaux.

Having made smooth headway aboard the Brian Meehan-trained colt passing the three-pole, the response was immediate when he was sent on to win the race.

Although Windshear briefly threatened to go with the winner, his effort came to nothing, with five lengths separating the pair at the post, giving Meehan a Pattern-race winner for the second successive Saturday after winning the Sweet Solera Stakes with Blue Bayou at Newmarket. Red Cadeaux was not disgraced in third.

"He was always going to get further and I am very pleased with him," said Meehan. "The ground is drying out, but he has improved so much and it is great to have Jimmy win a Group Three for us. I think he is growing up and maturing. He is a late developer, but he looked like a Group Two horse today that is going to get better.

"The Irish St Leger (Curragh, September 13) has always been the long-term plan and this was the perfect race for it."

Mick Channon praised sire Sixties Icon after two of his offspring handed him a double on the card, highlighted by the surprise success of Epsom Icon in the Denford Stud Stakes.

Despite having plenty to find on form with her three rivals, the two-year-old showed she was a potentially smart filly when flooring useful rivals in the Listed seven-furlong race.

Although sent off the 12/1 outsider of the quartet to go to post, Epsom Icon pulled out plenty to hold Dessertoflife by a length and follow up her maiden win at Epsom.

"Strictly on form, she had not got a hope, but we thought it was worth taking a chance and she ran well here first time," Channon said. "She is a light-framed filly, but I thought we had a squeak. We just had to have a go."

Czabo got the ball rolling for Channon when making the most of her previous experience in the Betfred TV EBF Stallions Maiden Fillies' Stakes.

Kastini (14/1) showed his appreciation for the Berkshire circuit when coming from last before going on to oblige in the Betfred Still Treble Odds On Lucky 15's Handicap.

Out of luck since scoring here last May, the Denis Coakley-trained gelding finished with a surge of power to take the mile-and-a-quarter prize by a going-away three-and-a-half lengths.

The victory completed a quickfire double for Paul Hanagan, who had earlier scored aboard Adaay in the Betfred Hungerford Stakes.

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