Ceratonia makes nice impression on Ascot debut

May Hill at Doncaster could be a target

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Ceratonia is likely to have her sights raised significantly on her next start after making a winning debut in the JGR British EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes at Ascot.

Anchored at the rear of the field by William Buick, the daughter of Oasis Dream – who is a half-sister to this year’s Oaks runner-up Wild Illusion – picked up smartly during the closing stages of the seven-furlong prize to defeat Model Guest by half a length.

Alex Merriam, assistant to winning trainer Charlie Appleby, said of the 5-4 favourite: “William was happy with her and she has done everything right. It was a nice way to start her career.

“It has been so quick at home we’ve not done a huge amount, but she has been doing things nicely. It was first time out and William made sure he didn’t go mad on her.”

He added: “I think we will probably stay at seven and she might prefer to get to her toe in a bit more. Having spoken to Charlie, we might give her a little break and look at something like the May Hill (at Doncaster).”

Production gave members of the Royal Ascot Racing Club plenty to cheer about on their home soil when striking at the first time of asking in the Anders Foundation British EBF Crocker Bulteel Maiden Stakes.

Taking up an early lead after making a slick getaway, the Richard Hannon-trained two-year-old fought off challenges on either side from Harbour Spirit, and eventual runner-up Crantock Bay, before getting up by a neck, to give his sire Oasis Dream a quickfire double.

Hannon said of the 9-4 winner: “The horse in the last month has really pulled himself together. To win an Ascot maiden you have to be pretty decent.

“He did it the hard way. He was asked a lot of questions there. He made the running and had a lot to look at, but he stuck his head out well.

“We will put him in some good races and he will probably go seven next time. It is good for them (owners) and they are good supporters. It is nice to have one win in front of the clubhouse.”

Speedo Boy (3-1) moved a step nearer to an outing in next month’s Sky Bet Ebor at York as he gained his first victory on the Flat in more than a year courtesy of the JGR Brown Jack Handicap.

Racing beyond two miles on the Flat for the first time, the Ian Williams-trained four-year-old was played late by James Doyle before tenaciously holding off the persistent challenge of Alqamar by a head.

Owner Paul Williams said: “He is a street fighter, an incredible horse. I thought maybe he (James Doyle) had left it a bit late on the inside, but James gave him a very good ride. I just wanted him to run well today.

“He (Ian Williams) has put him in the race at York, but he had to get a win in between. It will be down to Ian. I’m not going to double guess him. If he says we go, we go, if he says no, we don’t.”

Former Classic-placed runner Blue De Vega took a step back in the right direction with victory in the Neptune Investment Management Handicap.

Third in the Irish 2,000 Guineas of 2016, the five-year-old landed his first success since joining Robert Cowell when holding stablemate Evergate at bay by half a length.

The 12-1 chance was giving Oisin Murphy a double after the win of Production, and assistant trainer Greg Chung said: “He has come steadily down the handicap and now he has got his day.

“He was ridden slightly differently today and that was great. We were really confident he was gradually coming to a nice mark to be competitive, but at the same time they’ve got to justify that belief.”

Kelly’s Dino showed no signs of a busy campaign taking its toll after claiming the most lucrative success of his career in the JGR Handicap.

The Karl Burke-trained five-year-old made it four wins from 10 starts since the turn of the year, finding plenty to deny last year’s King George V Stakes winner Atty Perse by a length and a quarter, to complete a double for jockey Ben Curtis.

The winning rider said: “Everything went to plan. He got a nice lead and is better with a lead. The last day in France they hacked around and it turned into a sprint.”

Procedure (4-1) made it two wins from three starts when bursting through late on to take the concluding Chelsea Thoroughbreds October Club Charity Fillies’ Handicap by a length.

Winning rider Richard Kingscote said of Sir Michael Stoute’s charge: “She settled well over five furlongs and maybe the minimum trip is her forte. She quickened up well and did it very well in the end.”

Ceratonia makes nice impression on Ascot debut
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