Tuesday 12 December 2017

Bewitched has Haydock rivals spellbound

Thomas Kelly

KIEREN Fallon is trying to persuade Charles O'Brien to send Bewitched to Royal Ascot after his promising filly struck at Haydock on Saturday.

However, the son of legendary trainer Vincent O'Brien says he might wait until next year, despite Bewitched's impressive success in the Listed JW Lees Sandy Lane Stakes.

O'Brien's filly -- which runs in the famous Magnier silks -- handled the rain-softened ground best of all in the contest and while Fallon is keen for her to run in the Jersey Stakes, the trainer indicated it might give the Royal fixture a miss.

"It is nice to keep her against three-year-olds this season, so there are not many options," said O'Brien, based in Straffan, Co Kildare. "I don't think there is anything for her at Royal Ascot, but maybe next year. Kieren (Fallon) was trying to persuade me to go to the Jersey Stakes at Ascot, but I'm not convinced the seven furlongs will suit her and she will have a penalty for winning a Listed race.

"There's a race at Leopardstown, the Ballyogan over six for fillies, but it's only about 10 days away. I would like to give her a bit more time off, but we will see how she is."

Navajo Chief helped Fallon to a double on the day, gamely holding off the well-backed favourite Eton Forever. Les Fazzani also relished the easier conditions in the Listed EBF Joan Westbrook Pinnacle Stakes.

"She is the most genuine horse I have ever trained; she is very game and very tough and is much stronger this year and she was given a great ride by Paul (Hanagan)," said winning trainer Kevin Ryan.

One Haydock winner definitely going to the Royal meeting is William Haggas' High Standing, which was lucky enough to get on the scoresheet there last year in the Wokingham and later progressed to win a Group Three event.

The sprinter started this season in the best possible fashion when swooping late to beat Rose Blossom in the five-furlong Achilles Stakes.

Haggas' wife Maureen said: "We were desperate to get a run into him before Ascot. The Golden Jubilee is the plan if we can get him there in one piece."

Michael Stoute's Main Aim might not be heading to Berkshire despite a gritty display in the Group Three Timeform Jury Stakes under Ryan Moore.

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for winning owner Khalid Abdullah, said: "He is in the Golden Jubilee, but I don't think he will go there. He likes some cut in the ground which I don't think he would get there and we also have Showcasing in the race. He is better suited by six furlongs, so we will have to see."

Over at Newmarket on Saturday, Harry Dunlop looks to have a nice prospect in Green Moon, which had little trouble bringing up his hat-trick for the season in the Listed Fairway Stakes.

Ascot now beckons, but which race he will tackle has still to be decided after Jamie Spencer did the steering.

Dunlop said: "Jamie said to stay where we are over a mile and a quarter but I do think he wants a mile and a half. He will be entered in everything, including the Hampton Court and King Edward VII at Royal Ascot."

Barry Hills is looking further north than Ascot after Swilly Ferry landed the valuable Coral Sprint. The even more lucrative €117,000 Reg Griffin Memorial Trophy is the aim for the consistent colt.

"He was well on top at the end and will head to York in a fortnight for a race over six furlongs for three-year-olds. Hopefully that will be his Royal Ascot," said Hills.

Irish Independent

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