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TEN TO FOLLOW FROM THE LEGER FESTIVAL
This was an eye-popping performance from Fox Tal on only his fifth career start and his first in 319 days.
Andrew Balding’s colt made all to beat Sir Ron Priestley in a novice stakes at Ffos Las last July but his most recent run came in a Group 1 at Saint-Cloud (third).
Fox Tal was clearly well tuned up for his comeback, with Oisin Murphy content to get a good view of his rivals before making smooth headway approaching the final furlong.
The race was soon put to bed with a smart spurt of speed and this quick ground was clearly right up Fox Tal’s street.
This made for uncomfortable viewing if you had backed favourite Roundhay Park, with Nigel Tinkler’s sprinter clobbered at the start before running on into fourth behind clear-cut 20-1 winner Dark Shadow.
Roundhay Park hasn’t won since last summer but has fallen to an enticing mark.
He seems to enjoy a sound surface and with a dry week forecast, the William Hill Bronze Cup at Ayr would be an obvious target if he can sneak in near the bottom of the weights.
Stylistique was just building up a head of steam when slightly hampered over a furlong out and given the narrow margin of her defeat, that interference may have cost Roger Varian’s filly the race as she lost out on the nod to well-backed Graceful Magic (received 12lb).
Stylistique has shown a good level of form in four career starts, twice finishing on the heels of useful Boomer, at Newbury and Goodwood, and she has the ability to pick up a nice prize before too long.
This was yet another rock-solid effort from Mark Johnston’s filly.
Vivid Diamond had previously lashed stablemate Persian Moon on easier ground at Chester and continues to make her way through the ranks.
Kevin Ryan’s three-year-old was a 33-1 winner of the valuable sales race on this card 12 months ago and underlined his liking for the track with another sterling effort in this 7f Class 2 handicap which featured only four runners.
The Great Heir and eventual winner Mutamaasik had the race between them entering the final furlong and Shane Gray must have thought he had produced his mount with a perfectly-time thrust to grab the initiative 100 yards from home.
It was not to be, however, as Jim Crowley galvanised the odds-on favourite to regain the lead on the line.
The Great Heir hinted he was running back into form with a close third at Haydock last month.
This was a welcome return to form for Roger Varian’s filly.
Mot Juste was always playing catch-up after a sluggish break but was doing good work through the final couple of furlongs, taking minor honours in third behind enterprisingly-ridden Breathtaking Look.
Mot Juste was a dual winner last September/October and this may be her time of the season to strike again.
This 7f trip on quick ground probably wasn’t ideal for Berlin Tango, third in a one-mile Listed contest at Salisbury, but Andrew Balding’s colt stayed on quite stoutly into third without threatening to trouble hot favourite Molatham and Aidan O’Brien’s Wichita.
He is progressing nicely but at this stage doesn’t possess a telling turn of foot in such elevated company.
The Cool Silk Racing Partnership have the happy knack of unearthing winners every season and Flaming Princess has already twice tasted success, initially on her debut at Nottingham and more recently in France when landing a Listed event at Deauville.
This was backed up by a fine seventh to Raffle Prize in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot, trailblazing until the furlong pole, and the Richard Fahey-trained filly posted another fine effort here with her close fourth to speedster A’Ali.
Flaming Princess may be more at ease when encountering some give underfoot.
A winner on debut on heavy ground at Haydock in early June, he has been brought along steadily, stepping into Group 2 company in the bet365 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket and chasing home Mystery Power.
Juan Elcano, a son of Frankel out of a Daylami mare, will stay further next season and remains an exciting prospect.
Small fields blighted the card for betting purposes but the big and vocal crowd were brought to fever pitch at the end of this pulsating three-horse affair.
Andrea Atzeni aboard Bayroot elected to do the donkey work against his older opponents and Roger Varian’s three-year-old stuck to his guns resolutely when joined over a furlong out, eventually splitting in-form Qaysar and Baltic Baron in a blanket finish of bobbing heads.
Both Bayroot and Baltic Baron hold bet365 Cambridgeshire Handicap entries.