Monday 16 December 2019

Casamento nets big one for Halford

Nick Robson

Casamento led home a clean sweep for Ireland in Doncaster's Racing Post Trophy yesterday to provide Michael Halford with his first Group One winner.

Running in the famous maroon and white silks of Sheikh Mohammed, the Beresford Stakes winner beat the Aidan O'Brien-trained pair of Seville and Master Of Hounds by upwards of three-quarters of a length.

Ridden by Frankie Dettori for the first time, the chestnut colt has only tasted defeat once, at the hands of Jessica Harrington's Pathfork in the National Stakes, in his short career. Despite hitting the front over two furlongs out, the 2/1 favourite showed a willing attitude to fight off Seville and earn himself an 8/1 quote from William Hill for the English 2,000 Guineas, behind 4/5 favourite Frankel. By then, Casamento will be running for Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin operation after a winter in Dubai.

The owner's bloodstock agent John Ferguson confirmed the Derby will be the plan, for which he is 12/1 with Coral. "He'll winter in Dubai and he'll be trained with the Derby in mind, but we might run him in the Guineas too," said Ferguson.

The Derby would look a more likely target for Casamento, given that three of the last nine winners of the final Group One of the season have gone on to Epsom glory.

"I personally think he might have enough speed for the Guineas, but he's not slow either and stays," Halford said. "He only ever does enough and he was idling in front, I think he had plenty left.

"It was always the plan that he was going to join Godolphin and I've no problem with that. I'm just grateful to Sheikh Mohammed for sending me two horses and luckily enough we've got a good one."

While Halford was winning his first Group One, Dettori is an old hand on such days.

"It was a great performance and I'm delighted for Sheikh Mohammed and Mick," said Dettori. "He's an exciting horse for next year and will certainly stay 10 furlongs. This has been a good stepping stone in the past and he's won it well."

O'Brien said of his duo: "They've both run crackers.

"Seville was on his own for a big part of the race and Master Of Hounds also ran a good race. The form ties in with the best two-year-olds in Ireland and I'd imagine they'd both progress well next year."

Ryder Cup winner Lee Westwood was on hand to welcome back Hoof It (10/1) after Mick Easterby's sprinter landed the 40% Better Off On Betfair SP Handicap.Kieren Fallon had to get into overdrive to catch Noble Storm but won by a neck.

"Footballers, cricketers and rugby players all play golf to relax and this is what I do," said Westwood.

Meanwhile, Klammer looks to have left Jane Chapple-Hyam's care on a winning note by shading a three-way finish to the John Smith's Extra Smooth Stakes at Newbury. The trainer was keen for her smart two-year-old to now take part in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf but owner Yan Wah Wu plans to transfer him to Hong Kong.

In defying Dux Scholar and Elzaam by a nose and a neck respectively, Klammer (6/1) was paying yet another compliment to the brilliant Frankel, which brushed him aside in the Royal Lodge Stakes.

At Aintree, Monet's Garden won the totetentofollow Old Roan Chase for an emotional third time with a thrilling success over Poquelin. The 12-year-old grey shook off the persistent challenge of Paul Nicholls' runner to score by half a length in the hands of Dougie Costello.

Sunday Independent

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