Friday 15 December 2017

Saddler's Rock romps home to keep Oxx's flawless record intact

Thomas Kelly

John Oxx maintained his 100pc record in England this season courtesy of a swashbuckling success for Saddler's Rock in yesterday's Doncaster Cup.

In the wake of Alanza continuing her rapid progression in a Group Three 24 hours earlier, it was a surprise that punters allowed Saddler's Rock -- from the last crop of possibly the greatest sire of all time, Sadler's Wells -- to go off at a generous 11/2.

Unraced at two, he has been progressive this season and was a close third behind Fictional Account and Fame And Glory in a trial for the Irish St Leger.

Backers were possibly slightly put off by the unheralded Niall McCullagh doing the steering rather than Johnny Murtagh, but the stable jockey simply couldn't do the light weight and students of the Irish scene will know McCullagh is more than capable, given the ammunition.

It was not all plain sailing, and Saddler's Rock was first off the bridle, but even when Frankie Dettori was apparently sat with a double handful on the favourite Opinion Poll, McCullagh had not asked for everything.

When he did, the response was immediate and he shot clear of Goodwood Cup winner Opinion Poll to score by four lengths. "He's a very economical little horse and he only does what he has to," said McCullagh. "When I gave him a squeeze three-out he took off, but I didn't want to get there too early. He finished his race off well."

The success of Oxx's charge completed a double for the raiders as, earlier, David Wachman's Requinto took the Flying Childers Stakes after a thrilling finish.

Requinto was well fancied for the Nunthorpe last month but ran no sort of a race when 15th behind Margot Did. However, back against his own age group and racing on a firmer surface, the 100/30 favourite bounced back, holding off the challenge of Burwaaz.


Paul Smith, representing the winning owners, Coolmore Stud, said: "He might go for something like the Middle Park or the Prix de l'Abbaye next, but he's very ground dependent."

Lyric Of Light entered the 1,000 Guineas picture with a gutsy display in the May Hill Stakes. Winner of a Newmarket maiden on her only previous start, the 9/1 chance edged out John Gosden's 2/1 favourite Fallen For You.

The pair bumped each other close to home, but Dettori's mount prevailed by a head, adding to Godolphin's already strong hand with juvenile fillies.

Both Lyric Of Light and Fallen For You are quoted at 12/1 for next year's Classic by William Hill.

"This was a big jump up from a maiden," said Dettori. "She was still green and when she hit the front she pricked her ears."

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