Sport Horse Racing

Monday 18 November 2019

Smuggler's Derby hopes run aground at Chester

Not So Sleepy, with Jim Crowley up (centre), on the way to winning The Dee Stakes at Chester from Disegno (left)
Not So Sleepy, with Jim Crowley up (centre), on the way to winning The Dee Stakes at Chester from Disegno (left)

Thomas Kelly

Aidan O'Brien could not add to his Investec Derby hand as hot favourite Smuggler's Cove was unable to cope with testing conditions in the Betfair Dee Stakes at Chester.

Not So Sleepy (11/1) won the race, showing a willing resolve to get the better of a thrilling finish.

Jim Crowley took the lead heading around the first turn and, when he wound things up from the front, the move saw Smuggler's Cove become the first beaten.

Not So Sleepy was challenged on either side by Prince Gagarin and Disegno and the latter kept on well, but in tenacious fashion Hughie Morrison's charge stuck his neck out to score by a short head.

Smuggler's Cove trailed in a well-beaten last in the hands of Ryan Moore, with a failure to act on the ground put forward as the reason for his below-par effort.

Coolmore's UK representative Kevin Buckley said: "He didn't act on the ground. Simple as that. He's won on soft before but he didn't go on that today."

Winning trainer Morrison said: "He has a lot of ability and it's thanks to the lads who ride him at home that he's run the race he has today. He was a bit keen, but he loved it. He stayed every yard and went on the ground. There is no grand plan. He probably wants soft ground, so he might go to France at some stage as he stays well enough. He has always run slightly on his nerves, but maybe this will make him grow up."

Former jumping acquaintances Peter Niven and Graham Lee teamed up on the Flat to take the honours with mud-lover Clever Cookie in the Ormonde Stakes.

It was a memorable moment for Niven as he provided Grand National-winning rider Lee with his last winner over jumps with Posh Bird in the North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick in January 2012.

Clever Cookie (8/1) could make a swift return in the Betway Yorkshire Cup at York next Friday, while the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot is now a possibility if conditions are suitable and he could renew rivalry with runner-up Tac De Boistron.

The seven-year-old stayed on best of all in the wet conditions to outpoint the 11/10 favourite by a length and a quarter. The first two pulled six lengths clear of Deuce Again in third.

"He might go for the Yorkshire Cup next week. He was hardly blowing after that," said Niven. "Obviously the ground is going to be the key with him with regards to Ascot and places like that, but there are loads of opportunities for him.

"He should have won the Doncaster Cup last year, but we got it wrong. We tracked the wrong horse and it cost us a couple of lengths. Graham's made up for that today and given him a peach of a ride."

Roudee (6/1), third over six furlongs on this course 24 hours earlier, went two places better in the Crabbie's EBF Stallions Handicap over the minimum trip despite unshipping Hayley Turner on the way to the start and running loose.

Tom Dascombe's charge was totally unruffled and put the race to bed in style as he bounded clear in the final furlong to beat Rita's Boy by a length and a quarter.

Dascombe said: "I thought he was a good thing yesterday, but unfortunately he missed the break."

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