Mabs Cross retains Palace House crown at Newmarket

Michael Dods’ star defies penalty to make winning return

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Mabs Cross confirmed her status as one of the best sprinters in training when giving weight and a beating to her rivals in the Zoustar Palace House Stakes at Newmarket.

After winning the five-furlong prize 12 months ago, history repeated itself as the Michael Dods-trained five-year-old defied a 7lb penalty for her Group One success in last year’s Prix de l’Abbaye to defeat Equilateral by a neck.

Winning rider Paul Mulrennan said: “Giving that penalty away, she has proved she is the real deal. She has improved as the winter has gone on and she has got stronger.

“She had to do it the hard way, as she was always stuck out on the wing a little bit as she had nothing to race with.

“She is a very special filly and fair to play to Michael Dods – he is a dab hand with these. She will improve as well as she has not had a run this year.

“The King’s Stand, Temple, Nunthorpe and back for the Abbaye will be on the agenda, so it is happy days. This is extra special as I missed the bulk of last season (through injury), but you have got to take the highs with the lows.

“There will be plenty more good days in her. It is nice that Michael and the owners have stayed loyal to me as the phone was hopping for other people to get on her.”

Emma Armstrong, wife of winning owner David Armstrong, was equally delighted with the performance having arrived at the track with an open mind.

She said: “I am fantastically proud. We knew she was fit and well. She had the big penalty and we came with an open mind to see what we would find out.

“I think we may go to the Temple Stakes at Haydock, so hopefully at the end of the month we will see her again. I would think we will look at Royal Ascot as well.”

A re-match with the runner-up at Royal Ascot is a possibility, according to his trainer Charlie Hills.

He said: “Equilateral missed the break a bit which didn’t help, but he’s run a great race when he was in front for a long way. He’s had three quick races so we’ll give him a break now and look at the King’s Stand.”

Roger Varian may not have had a runner in the 2000 Guineas, but he could have one in next month’s French Derby after UAE Jewel maintained his unbeaten record in the Lightning Spear Newmarket Stakes.

Having made a winning debut at the Craven meeting, the Dubawi colt followed up when running out a three-quarter-length winner of the Listed contest, after which he was left unchanged at 8-1 for the French Classic by Paddy Power.

Varian said of the 8-11 winner: “It was a tough race as I thought the form of the second was kind of franked in the Guineas as I thought Kick On (who beat him last time) ran a good race.

“He was still a bit green down the dip, but I like what he did between the three and the two pole and he looked better than them. It was nice to get him winning today as he still showed inexperience, but he was entitled to.

“Sheikh Obaid will have input on where he goes, but I would not think we will rush him back in May. I think I would like to keep him at a mile and a quarter and the French Derby is our number one target.”

Sir Michael Stoute admitted he may have aimed too high with Elector last season, but found a suitable opening for the four-year-old son of Dansili, who is owned by The Queen, following his neck success in the Spring Lodge Stakes.

The Newmarket handler said of the 9-1 winner: “It was a handy race with a nice prize and he fitted into it well. He was pretty straightforward last year, but we thought he would not be standing at Sandringham (Stud) so why not get the job done (gelding operation).

“He is just a little bit more mature, but we knew he had some talent. I’ve been very pleased with his homework. He has improved a bit from three to four. On the other hand we were over ambitious last year running in races like the King Edward VII.”

Richard Hannon was forced to settle for second in the 2000 Guineas with King Of Change, but he hit the mark with Moyassar who ran out a two-and-a-half-length winner of the Havana Gold Handicap.

Hannon said of the 10-1 winner: “He ran a super race. I thought he would go close first time, but he missed the gate and was stuck out wide and maybe he might have just needed it.

“He travelled very well today and we will see what the handicapper does on Tuesday.”

Mabs Cross retains Palace House crown at Newmarket
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