Sunday 25 February 2018

Cumani sets sights on Gold Cup as Mizzou shows class

Delighted: Luca Cumani Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Delighted: Luca Cumani Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Thomas Kelly

While the time may have been slower, the result was still the same as Mizzou recorded a second straight success in the Longines Sagaro Stakes at Ascot.

After setting a course record in the two-mile contest 12 months ago, the Luca Cumani-trained five-year-old become the fifth horse in history to win the Group Three contest twice when denying favourite Clever Cookie by a neck.

Clever Cookie was a persistent challenger inside the final furlong, with Flying Officer sticking on gamely on the rail, but Mizzou just prevailed in tight finish.

"He did it very well and it was a tougher assignment this year, but he showed his battling ability and he is a tough horse who stays well," said Cumani.

"We still have to find another 5lb between now and the Gold Cup because the third gave us 5lb there. Hopefully he will do and it will be back here for the Gold Cup.

"I was not concerned about the ground as he does not mind a bit of quick."

Jose Valdiva Jr ticked off riding a winner at Ascot from his 'to do' list after steering Wesley Ward's Create A Dream (5/1) to a front-running success in the Sodexo Conditions Stakes.

Although forced to miss an intended outing in the Brocklesby at Doncaster earlier this month, the two-year-old provided American trainer Wesley Ward with another winner at the track when gamely taking the five-furlong prize by a short head.

Speaking from his home base, Ward said: "I knew what we had, everything I'd seen early on warranted going over to England and she's come through.

"She won't run again before Royal Ascot. That was all we needed and unlike my previous runners, she's now got experience of the track.

"My thinking is she'll go for the Albany over six furlongs as I've got another filly, Lady Aurelia, for the Queen Mary. She's by Scat Daddy, who has had Royal Ascot winners, and she broke the track record when she worked on grass.

"She's definitely quicker than Create A Dream, but whether she's better remains to be seen. There's no point running them in the same race, divide and conquer I say!"

The stewards were busy, demoting Brocklesby winner The Last Prince from second and suspending his rider Franny Norton for four days, May 11-13 inclusive and May 15.

The sky is the limit for Hugo Palmer's Gifted Master after the gelding blitzed his rivals in the Merriebelle Stable Pavilion Stakes.

Sent off at 3/1 with Aidan O'Brien's Washington DC the favourite, he never saw another rival under Pat Smullen.

"I think we'll have to think about the Sandy Lane as he's the sort of horse that needs racing and we've got a month before that," said Palmer.

"We came here to find out if we should head to the Commonwealth Cup. Unless Pat says go to seven furlongs I expect it will be the Commonwealth Cup.

"He blew his lid at this meeting 12 months ago and he paid for it (by being gelded).

"The Commonwealth is his target and as I've said all along we'll look for the money wherever he goes, as he's never going to cover any mares, so he'll get an entry in the Sussex Stakes, Foret, Topkapi Trophy and Breeders' Cup Mile."

Prospects of an outing in the Investec Oaks moved a step closer for Dawn Of Hope after taking a drop down in class in her stride in the Spinal Injuries Association EBF Stallions Stakes.

Although finding Group One company in the Fillies' Mile beyond her in her final start at two Roger Varian's daughter of Mastercraftsman showed that a return to Pattern-race company is likely to be on the cards when taking the mile prize by a length and a quarter.

"She will definitely stay 10 furlongs, but Andrea (Atzeni) said he is unsure if she will stay a mile and a half," said Varian."

Meanwhile, Order Of St George could make his seasonal reappearance in the Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown ahead of a shot at the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

Despite not running until June last year, the four-year-old made an instant impact in the staying ranks after winning three of his four starts, culminating with a runaway success in the Irish St Leger in September.

Although yet to race beyond a mile and three-quarters, the Aidan O'Brien-trained son of Galileo already heads the ante-post market for the Group One showpiece on June 16.

Irish Independent

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