Owen Burrows’ resurgence continued apace as Laraaib bounced back to form in the Stella Artois Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot.
A promising sort last year, he returned to action with a pleasing run behind subsequent Prince of Wales’s Stakes and King George winner Poet’s Word.
However, with the stable out of form, he badly disappointed on his next two starts and was sent off at 11-2 for this retrieval mission.
Sporting blinkers for the first time as he returned from an 86-day absence, Laraaib travelled sweetly in the hands of Jim Crowley and knuckled down gamely to beat Mark Johnston’s Communique.
The gritty Communique, searching for a sixth win of the season, did not go down without a fight but there was half a length between them at the line.
“Jim was chuffed, he had a nice run around and I was pretty confident turning in,” said Burrows.
“Fair play to the second, but I was chuffed to bits in the last half furlong when we managed to pull away.
“I put the blinkers on, not because I think he’s ungenuine, but because he’s laid-back at home and he worked really well in them a couple of weeks ago.
“I thought I’d try to run in them and it’s brilliant that it’s paid off.
“That’s probably it for the year – he handles a bit of cut but he has won on fast ground.
“Obviously he was under the weather last time at Newmarket, but I’ve always thought he was up to this sort of class.”
Michael Dods certainly has a way with speedy fillies and Intense Romance continues to work her way through the ranks, bringing up her hat-trick in the Duke Of Edinburgh’s Award Rous Stakes.
Intense Romance was only rated 86 three starts back, but two heavy ground wins pushed her up to 96 and every drop of rain that fell was in her favour as she held off Mr Lupton gamely.
Jockey Callum Rodriguez said: “She’s so tough, genuine and loves soft ground and the more rain that came, the happier we were.
“She dug in deep and it was a massive effort.
The John Guest Racing Bengough Stakes was decimated by non-runners, with Limato a notable absentee due to the heavy rain, and only four went to post.
Roger Charlton’s Projection, second to Blue Point 12 months ago, went one better this time, just holding off odds-on favourite Dream Of Dreams.
Charlton said: “The plan was, I think, that the horse runs for a bit and then stops.
“It was a small field with no obvious pace and Kieran (Shoemark) had to switch leads and then still waited, but I think he deserved it.
“I’m quite a popular trainer as he’s owned by the Royal Ascot Racing Club, and why not come back here on Champions Day if the horse is fine – we’ll give it another shot.”
Nicola Currie got a great tune out of Jamie Osborne’s Raising Sand (5-1) in the Bet With Ascot Challenge Cup.
Third in the race to subsequent Group winners last season, he beat the ultra-consistent Ripp Orf by two lengths with Shady McCoy third.
Osborne said: “That was a relief. How lucky are we? I looked at the programme book a few months ago and pinpointed this meeting and we had three possibles, Cliffs Of Capri, Lush Life and this one and they all want different going.
“It was lovely, fast ground yesterday and it’s bottomless today. The ground is the key to this one as he’s so much better with a dig in the ground. Soft ground improves him so much.
“I only went to the Cambridgeshire (last week) as I thought he had no chance of getting into this and he ran well on ground that was too fast.
“He’ll have a penalty for the Balmoral and he’ll come back all being well.”
Ralph Beckett’s Di Fede (13-2) ran out a ready winner of the Listed Neptune Investment Management British EBF October Stakes under Harry Bentley.
Beckett said: “That was great today, she loves it here and that is probably the key.
“Some of them really like certain courses and this one has run three great races on the straight track and four if you include the Listed race.
“She might stay in training.”