There may be better horses in training but surely none gamer than King’s Advice, who won for the eighth time this season in the Qatar Summer Handicap at Goodwood.
Since joining Mark Johnston earlier this year, his only defeat came in the Northumberland Plate when he was burdened with a poor draw – the only time too that jockey Joe Fanning has not been on board.
The five-year-old is bred to be very good, being by Frankel out of the smart Queen’s Logic, but he arrived in Middleham from France with a lowly rating of 71.
Since then, he has flown up the handicap and was winning off 108 on this occasion – by a neck as the 7-2 favourite, having looked beaten when Outbox headed him.
King’s Advice shortened after his latest victory to 10-1 from 14s for the valuable Sky Bet Ebor Handicap at York later this month.
Johnston said: “It’s absolutely incredible.
“I never really believe that horses know whether they are winning or have their head in front – but if ever there was a horse who wants to put his head back in front, it’s him.
“I thought he was beaten so many times today – even inside the final furlong it looked like the second horse was going to get the better of him, and perhaps did even get its head to the front – but he just comes back again.
“He’s gone from a rating of 71 to winning off 108 today, and he’s only lost one race for us. That was the Northumberland Plate, and he was unlucky there – and he didn’t have Joe Fanning. Joe Fanning is unbeaten on him.”
The trainer is in no doubt either where King’s Advice will be headed.
“It’s got to be the Ebor next,” he said.
“That’s going to be very, very difficult – because they’ll be queuing up for a go at him – but we’ve got to go there, and the owner has been suggesting a step into Pattern company for several runs now. We’ve talked him out of it, but he’ll get his shot quite soon -possibly the Irish St Leger.”
Ruth Carr’s Poyle Vinnie was agonisingly caught over five furlongs at the same track on Tuesday – but over a furlong further and from apparently the worst of the draw in stall one, he ran out a convincing winner of the opening Qatar Stewards’ Sprint Handicap.
Run as a consolation race for the Stewards’ Cup, this year’s renewal was won by a horse who had run in the last four editions of the main event but had managed no better than his ninth at the most recent attempt.
Last year’s victor Tommy G tried to steal a march down the rail – but Venturous headed him, only for Poyle Vinnie (20-1) to pounce late and win by a neck under Jimmy Sullivan.
The winning jockey said: “I think it was his first time over six furlongs this year. He was unlucky here the first day over five – when he travelled, looked like the winner everywhere and just got nabbed late on by PJ McDonald.
“Ruth has done a great job getting this lad ready. She took the blinkers off and put cheekpieces on, which gave me a chance to settle him early on.
“You are riding your own race out there. All I wanted to do was settle early on, and I got him settled. When you start finding, you are looking for something to race with.
“I saw the far side was a bit ahead, but I was using Mr Barron’s horse (Venturous) to get me to the line. The two of us went on together, and this lad has battled down and did it well.”
Reflecting on his week, Yorkshire-based Sullivan added: “I was at Ayr last Sunday, then I drove down here for Tuesday and then back up to Redcar the next day. Then I went from Redcar to Epsom, and then from Epsom back up to Scotland for Musselburgh yesterday – before coming back here.
“I don’t know how many miles that is, but a winner at the end of the week makes it all worthwhile. He’s a legend of a horse and he’s very consistent.”
Charlie Hills enjoyed a good end to the week – with Battaash winning a third King George Stakes on Friday, Khaadem taking the Stewards’ Cup and newcomer Persuasion (16-1) making a big impression under James Doyle in the Qatar EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes.
Hills said of the latter: “He’s a lovely horse, and I think he was only 16-1 because he was making his debut and most of the others had had a run or two – which is a big advantage.
“He’ll be better than ‘Dutch’ (Connection – winner of the race for the same owners four years ago), and I think he’ll go the same route now.
“Dutch Connection went on to York to win the Acomb Stakes, and this one is qualified there, so that’s where he’ll go. He’s got other entries – but the Acomb fits well, I think.”
Jockey Callum Shepherd clearly enjoyed Land Of Legends (9-2) winning the Qatar Handicap, saluting the crowd on crossing the line.