Hamish makes most of Melrose chance

Ground concerns allayed at York

  • Saturday 24 August
  • News
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Hamish looked a promising young stayer in the making as he won the right to run in next year’s Ebor with victory in the Sky Bet Melrose Handicap at York.

Owned and bred by trainer William Haggas’ father, Brian, the son of Motivator knuckled down well to beat the favourite First In Line on only his fourth start.

Ridden by James Doyle, Hamish (7-1) got home by three-quarters of a length, with Land Of Oz a length and a quarter away in third.

“He ran at Newbury over a mile and a quarter last time. The trip was a bit short and the ground a bit firm. If we’d had soft ground that day we’d have got away with it,” said Haggas’ wife and assistant, Maureen.

“This trip is what he’s bred for. He always feels he’s going to be better with a bit of cut. We just thought going an extra four furlongs would negate the ground problem, so we thought we’d give it a go and find out.

“We wouldn’t want to run him on this ground too often, because he’s a light horse and he’s light on his feet. Hopefully, we’ll get away with it.

“I don’t think he needs much more racing this year. We’ll see, but this is his trip. We’ll try to get him on a bit softer ground and maybe one or two more races this year and keep him for next year.

“He’s a nice horse and he’s getting better, he’s not straightforward, but you couldn’t fault the way he raced today.”

Haggas himself was at Goodwood, from where he said: “He was very brave, and I thought he did well to win. He is bred to get that sort of distance. He did well, because I thought the ground might be a bit fast for him, but we got away with it.

“It was a mile and quarter last time, but the new novice system forces you to run in races that are possibly not ideal. It was a strong race, but he did well and won.

“He has won and earned his ticket for next year’s Ebor and is owned and bred by a Yorkshireman. I’m thrilled to bits. I’m not sure about two miles for him, but a mile and six looked good today.

“He will campaign at that sort of distance. I don’t know what to do next, I’m just chuffed to bits he has won today.”

The Joseph O’Brien-trained Alligator Alley (11-8 favourite) overcame an awkward start to snatch the Listed spoils in the Julia Graves Roses Stakes.

Donnacha O’Brien found a dream run on the stands rail well inside the final furlong to hit the front close home and score by a length from Dr Simpson, with Streamline another head away.

The winning rider said: “I didn’t break that slow, only half a length slow. I just got sandwiched and he did well to win from there.

“It’s very hard for any horse to make up that ground over five here so I think you can mark up that performance.

“I think stepping back to five has been the key to him and really nice ground helps as well. He’s all about speed.”

The progressive Forest Of Dean (6-4 favourite) could head for the Cambridgeshire after giving a sound beating to seasoned campaigners in the Sky Bet Handicap.

Frankie Dettori brought the John Gosden-trained three-year-old with a strong run to collar long-time leader Johnny Drama in the final furlong and win by a length and a half.

“He’s on the upgrade. He’s taken on a lot of older, exposed horses on ground probably quicker than he likes. He’s put in a proper performance and he’s a likeable horse,” said Gosden.

“I think next year he’ll go down the Pattern-race route.

“I think we should run him in one more handicap (the Cambridgeshire) and put him away.”

Que Amoro (9-1) followed up her victory over slightly further on this course last month with another all-the-way display in the five-furlong Sky Bet Apprentice Handicap.

The filly, trained by Michael Dods, never looked like being caught as she galloped on enthusiastically to score by a length and three-quarters from Moss Gill in the hands of Phil Dennis, who won on 66-1 shot Everlasting Times on Thursday.

Dods said: “She was impressive here last time, and that is how she’s worked at home.

“We tried to steady her in a couple of races, and I said it’s not working.

“Last time she ran we said let her get on with it. When she won here it was always the plan to come back for the apprentice race.

“It’s worked out. She was impressive and she is quick. She’s a pretty good filly now.

“We’ll run her again. We might try to find a Listed fillies’ race. I think she will go for a bit of black type now.”

Hamish makes most of Melrose chance
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