Mark Johnston continued to be the man with the midas touch at Newmarket’s July Festival as Vale Of Kent gained his first win in more than 11 months in the bet365 Bunbury Cup.
Saddling a double at the track on Friday having sent out Communique out to win the Princess of Wales’s Stakes on Thursday, the Middleham master celebrated winner number four at the meeting as the son of Kodiac returned to form in the seven-furlong prize.
Racing on the far side throughout, the 13-2 shot had more than enough in hand to hold off the late challenge of favourite Solar Gold by half a length and have his odds trimmed from 25-1 to 16-1 for the Unibet Golden Mile at Goodwood with the race sponsors.
Charlie Johnston, son and assistant trainer, said: “He ran a bad race at Newcastle and I don’t know what went wrong that day.
“The horse has had a lot of issues through the spring. He went to the Royal Hunt Cup first time out this year and actually ran a massive race.
“Maybe Newcastle came a bit soon for him as it was only a week later. I thought he looked a million dollars in the paddock beforehand today.
“I guess it will be a coin toss between the International at Ascot or the Golden Mile at Goodwood, or maybe both. I think seven is his perfect trip, but if you are going to get away with a mile, Goodwood is a good place.”
Charlie Appleby has introduced plenty of smart juveniles at the track over the years and Light Blush (5-2) could be another after she hit the target on her debut with a cosy three-quarter-length success in the Rossdales British EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes.
Appleby said: “I said to James (Doyle) she doesn’t do anything quick as she hasn’t got the gears to pick up, but she has just
lengthened when she hit the rising ground.
“She is a light-framed filly and she has a bit of scope there and time will help her.
“She was a bit fresh in the paddock, but quite professional throughout the race. I’d say we will look at something in late August for her.”
The Richard Hannon-trained Motakhayyel bounced back to winning ways after seeing his unbeaten record ended at Yarmouth last time when benefiting from a smart ride by Chris Hayes to run out a two-and-a-quarter-length winner of the bet365 Mile Handicap.
Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, said of the 5-1 winner: “I still think he would have the speed to win over seven, but just the way the race was run at Yarmouth, we probably didn’t get it right.
“His father got better as he got older and I see no reason why this horse won’t. I’d love to think he would make a Listed horse.”
Richard Spencer saw his heart rate go through the roof after California Love (8-1) did just enough to hold Salayel at bay by a head in the Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa British EBF Fillies Handicap.
He said: “My heart was racing more then than at Glastonbury! We ran her first time this year in the Sandringham. I thought she ran very well that day.
“We highly tried her last year and she wasn’t quite 100 per cent, but she is a different filly this year.
“We thought dropping back a furlong we would use forceful tactics and Steve (Donohue) has given her a great ride.
“There are a few options with her between now and the end of the year in handicaps, but we could maybe step up to get a bit of black type.”
The closing Maritime Cargo Handicap went to Saeed bin Suroor’s 13-8 favourite Dubai Tradition.