Baghdad victory points way back to Ascot

Johnston colt convincing in Qatar Racing Handicap

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Baghdad moved a step closer to a return trip to Royal Ascot as he resumed winning ways in the Qatar Racing Handicap at Newmarket.

Having suffered a fractured cannon bone after winning the King George V Handicap at the Royal meeting last year, the Mark Johnston-trained Frankel colt went two places better on Sunday than on his seasonal return at Newcastle – running out a half-length winner of the mile-and-a-half contest.

Johnston said of the 9-4 winner: “Unfortunately he fractured a cannon bone after winning the King George V.

“He has had surgery on it, and it is great to see horses like that coming back from serious surgery.”

Baghdad stayed on well under Silvestre De Sousa, ahead of John Gosden’s Corelli, and Johnston added: “Clearly he is still on the upgrade.

“I don’t know whether he needed it (at Newcastle) – but he got the job done today.

“Silvestre said he was quite keen early.

“Frankie (Dettori, on Corelli) slowed it up a bit – but he got to Frankie in the dying strides.

“He has seen that out today well – and with a strong pace, I still think a mile and a half is probably ideal. I would say we would look at the Duke Of Edinburgh back at Ascot.”

On The Warpath put his name in the frame to be part of Charlie Applebly’s team for Royal Ascot after making the most of a drop back in trip to six furlongs with a three-length success in the Longholes Handicap.

Appleby said of the 9-4 winner: “He has been consistent through the course of the winter in Meydan.

“He ran here at the Craven meeting over seven furlongs and full credit to James (Doyle) who rode him that day as he said he felt dropping back to six he would be more than capable.

“We dropped back to six today and he has done what he has done. We will maybe potentially look at something like the Wokingham for him.”

William Haggas may have left the track deflated after the defeat of Skardu in Saturday’s 2000 Guineas, but Maqsad lifted his spirits when advancing her own Classic claims in the Tweenhills Pretty Polly Stakes.

Having broken her maiden tag at last month’s Craven meeting, the daughter of Siyouni clearly appreciated the step up to a mile and a quarter as she demolished this field for a decisive five-length Listed victory.

She was subsequently cut from 33-1 into 10-1 by Paddy Power to make it a hat-trick of wins this season in the Investec Oaks at Epsom.

Haggas said of the 5-4 winner: “I was impressed with her. I thought she travelled well and settled well, and appeared to be better at the trip.

“I was keen to go up in trip, because she has got a bit of speed – and you need speed if you are going to stay – and she has lots of stamina on the dam’s side.

“I think once she broke her maiden here, we decided she had to go for a Listed race – because what is the point of doing anything else?

“She is in the Prix Saint Alary at the end of the month; she is in the French Oaks and the English Oaks. There are lots of options – we’ve just got to sit down and think about it.”

Richard Hannon has Group race plans in mind for Threat, after the 10-1 shot made a winning debut by an impressive two and a quarter lengths in the Hot Streak Maiden Stakes.

Hannon said: “He is a very nice colt, and always has been.

“I thought he would run very well today. Our two-year-olds have needed it – and if they win first time out they are good. I’d like to think he is a Coventry (Stakes) horse – because I think he will be better going over six (furlongs).

“That was a smart race – coming here is quite punchy. There is the Olympic Glory Stakes at Newbury and the Woodcote at Epsom. He could go straight to the Coventry.”

De Sousa and Johnston bookended the card with victory when Nayef Road, who holds Group Two entries in the Dante and King Edward VII Stakes, ran out a facile five-length winner of the Qipco Supporting British Racing Handicap.

Johnston said of the 9-4 winner: “The London Gold Cup was what (assistant) Charlie (Johnston) said straight-away.

“We will have to see what the handicapper does with him. He did look like the winner a long way out.”

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