Antonia De Vega bolstered her prospects of a shot at Classic glory in next month’s Kerrygold Irish Oaks after running out a decisive winner of the Johnnie Lewis Memorial British EBF Stakes at Newbury.
After losing her unbeaten record when finishing down the field in the Fillies’ Mile on her final start last season, the daughter of Lope De Vega made an impressive return to action on her first try over a mile and a quarter in the Listed prize.
Sticking to the task well, the 4-1 shot gradually wore down both favourite Terebellum and eventual runner-up Star Terms to take control inside the final furlong before pulling away to score by four lengths to give Harry Bentley the first leg of a double.
Winning trainer Ralph Beckett said: “It has been a tough spring with her and she has shown the square root of zip, which is why she came here as I could see her running to 68 based on what we were seeing at home.
“They went a good gallop and it is clear that she wants to go further. The ground helped and (with) anything by that sire, ground like that always helps.
“I would be keen based on what we have just seen there, and we will stick to wherever there is juice in the ground, but she is in the Irish Oaks and that might be a possibility.
“Manuela De Vega won’t go to Ascot, so the two of them might end up there together.”
The drop back to a mile worked the trick for the George Baker-trained Infanta Isabella as she completed Bentley’s brace when opening her account for the season with a six-length success in the Comax Handicap.
Bentley said of the 4-1 winner: “She loved the ground and the drop back to a mile. The mile on this ground really suited her. She has done it very well.”
Roger Varian and David Egan may have been out of luck with Lastochka in the feature contest, but the pair celebrated a double together, initiated by the two-and-three-quarter-length debut victory for Mottrib (4-1) in the Be Wiser Insurance Novice Stakes.
Varian said: “Mottrib has got quite a round action and we don’t like to run the two-year-olds first time out on this testing ground, but he’s by Invincible Spirit out of a Dalakhani mare, so I thought he’d probably handle it.
“I like how he did it and he won going away. He was strong at the line. He’d shown us enough at home before this, but I’m not sure how good he is. I thought he’d come and run well, but maybe not win.”
Testing conditions may have found some out, but they proved to be no barrier to Qamka (6-4), who gave Varian and Egan their second winner on the afternoon when prevailing by a length and a quarter in the Crossland British EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes.
Varian said: “She likes that ground as she has got quite a high action. She got through it well and is probably ready for a step up to 10 furlongs as she was lengthening rather than quickening through the line, but she was going strong through the line.
“She got a nice lead and moved into the race nicely. She didn’t put it to bed immediately as I don’t think she is a finisher with a gear change. We are not going to over race her through the summer and we will see the best of her in the autumn.”