Forest Ranger earns his spurs in Huxley Stakes

Richard Fahey saddles rejuvenated four-year-old to Chester glory

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Forest Ranger backed up his recent Newmarket victory in good style as Eminent flopped in the Homeserve Huxley Stakes at Chester.

Forest Ranger, who was gelded before making a successful seasonal debut last month, maintained his progress by landing the Group Two honours.

However, Eminent was a big disappointment. Marty Meade’s classy colt trailed home last of the five starters runners after making the early running following a slight delay after Frankuus refused to go into the stalls and was withdrawn.

Tony Hamilton brought Forest Ranger (6-1) to put it up to Eminent, the 8-13 favourite, on the turn for home and the Richard Fahey-trained four-year-old kicked clear.

War Decree, from Aidan O’Brien’s stable, made a late bid was never going to get there and was a length and a quarter down at the line.

Fahey said: “He definitely galloped right to the line, so we are delighted. He’s a big unit – he was probably a bit weak last year.

“He’s become a man and he’s progressing. We’ll skip Ascot. That (Coral-Eclipse at Sandown) is where we are going.”

Fahey added: “That turned into a great race for us, I thoroughly enjoyed it. When I saw the favourite throwing out distress signals and Tony still hadn’t moved I began to get excited.

“I purposefully didn’t enter him for Ascot, I thought we’d give that a miss.

“As a Group Two winner now he’ll be harder to place. There won’t be many options for him.

“I’m getting more confident in the horse now. He does pick up at the end of his races, which is the sign of a half-decent horse.”

Hamilton said: “I didn’t think he’d really handle the track. I thought it would be a bit tight for a big horse like him, but he’s loved it.

“We’ve gone a nice gallop and he just goes the one gallop the whole way.

“He’s a massive horse who will only get better with age.”

Eminent’s jockey Oisin Murphy said: “I wasn’t comfortable from four (furlongs) down.

“This is a very good horse. He gave me a very nice feel at home and he didn’t perform, but they’re not machines and sometimes they disappoint.

“Hopefully we can get to the bottom of it.”

The veterinary officer at Chester said that Eminent was found to have a “fibrillating heart” when he was examined after the race.

Meade said: “He seems to be fine but he just had this irregular heartbeat which he never had before. Hopefully it should return to normal, but we have to wait until then to see.

“Obviously it’s something that happens with those big horses with big hearts. It happens to big horses like Sprinter Sacre.

“The scoping and everything else was fine. It could just be a one-off. What we have to hope is that tomorrow it goes back to normal and then he’ll be fine.

“If it doesn’t go back to normal then clearly we’ll have to look to doing other things.”

Forest Ranger earns his spurs in Huxley Stakes
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