Ribchester to face 15 in Royal Ascot opener

Ribchester to face 15 in Royal Ascot opener

Ribchester ©Healy Racing Photos Red-hot favourite Ribchester will face 15 rivals in the curtain-raising Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on Tuesday. Richard Fahey’s colt made a hugely impressive start to his campaign when landing last month’s Lockinge Stakes at Newbury and is odds-on across the board for the first race of the week in Berkshire. The four-year-old is one of three representatives for Godolphin along with his stablemate and pacemaker Toscanini and the Charlie Hills-trained Dutch Connection. Ribchester will renew rivalries with David Simcock’s Lockinge runner-up Lightning Spear, while Aidan O’Brien sends both Cougar Mountain and Deauville into battle. There are two trans-Atlantic challengers in Todd Pletcher’s American Patriot, the mount of Frankie Dettori, and Miss Temple City from Graham Motion’s stable. Other contenders include the William Haggas-trained Mutakayyef, Roger Varian’s Ennaadd and Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Kaspersky, who will be ridden by Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne.
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Monica back to her best in Munster Oaks

Santa Monica (pink) comes to tackle the white-faced Butterflies ©Healy Racing Photos By Donal Murphy Santa Monica bounced back to her best to land the feature at Cork this afternoon, the Group 3 Munster Oaks Stakes. Having got off the mark at Dundalk in May of last year, the Charles O’Brien trained bay ran well to finish second in the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh. She was also second in a Listed contest at Gowran, finishing third in the Group 2 Blandford Stakes at the Curragh in September. Her two runs this season were disappointing, and so she was sent off a 20/1 chance this afternoon with Billy Lee in the saddle. Having raced mainly in seventh, she took closer order early in the straight, and was ridden in pursuit of the leaders from the two furlong pole. She hit top gear with a furlong left to race, and edged to the front in the closing stages, going on to score by a neck. Butterflies finished second at 9/1 under Wayne Lordan for Aidan O’Brien, while the 9/4 favourite Glamorous Approach was another length and a quarter back in third for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning. Billy Lee said afterwards: “She was tough and we went a right good gallop. I didn’t really travel all that well early-on until about five furlongs out but crept into the race. “She had the experience and started to get to them then and has her job done now.” STEWARDS REPORT The Stewards enquired into an incident in the latter stages where it appeared Flying Fairies was forced to check momentarily. Evidence was heard from the riders concerned. Having viewed the recording of the race and considered the evidence, the Stewards were of the opinion that any interference was accidental in nature and took no further action, other than to advise W.J. Lee to ride more carefully in future. Additional reporting by Thomas Weekes
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First & last race double for Weld & Smullen

The grey Harrana proves too good for Spanish Steps ©Healy Racing Photos By Donal Murphy Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen completed a first and last race double at Cork, as Harrana took the finale, the Mallow Town Summer Race Evening July 14th Maiden. Fifth and third on her first two starts, the grey daughter of New Approach was sent off the 4/1 second favourite today. Sent straight to the front by Smullen she was headed down the back straight, and raced in second. She regained the lead from the two furlong pole, and was ridden from over a furlong out, keeping on well, despite drifting left, to score by three parts of a length. Spanish Steps, who was sent off the well-supported 4/6 favourite (from 11/8 last night), was slightly hampered when the winner drifted, but he still couldn’t reel her in once switched to the inner. The front two went nine lengths clear of Covetus who finished third at 7/1 under Billy Lee for Willie McCreery. Kris Weld said afterwards: “She didn’t quite get home at Tipperary but she was much happier coming back in trip today and battled well. “She is a very well bred filly – her uncle is Harzand, and it’s great to get the win with her. We’ll look for a handicap with her next.” STEWARDS REPORTS The Stewards received a report from stable yard security, regarding the late arrival of Ilikehim, trained by William Durkan, to the racecourse. The Stewards interviewed Michael Fitzsimons, authorised representative of William Durkan, who stated that having left home at 11:45 am with the intention of arriving at 3pm, there was a traffic accident on the M7 which delayed him considerably. Having considered the evidence, the Stewards allowed the horse to run and took no further action other than to remind Michael Fitzsimons of his obligations to arrive at the racecourse in sufficient time in future. The Stewards enquired into possible interference in the straight involving Spanish Steps, ridden by D. O’Brien, placed second and Harrana, ridden by P.J. Smullen, placed first, where it appeared Spanish Steps was forced to switch. Evidence was heard from the riders concerned. Having viewed the recording of the race and considered the evidence, the Stewards made no alteration to the Judge’s placings and took no further action. Anastasia O’Brien, rider of Ruby Quest trained by A.P.O’Brien, reported to the Clerk of Scales that her mount hung throughout. Additional reporting by Thomas Weekes
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