Stamina is Diamond's strength in Cumberland Lodge

Soft ground gives Johnston camp hope

  • Friday 04 October
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Connections are hoping the testing conditions at Ascot will play into the hands of Vivid Diamond in the Property Raceday Targets £3M Cumberland Lodge Stakes.

Mark Johnston’s three-year-old filly has had a busy summer campaign, culminating in victory in the Listed Sportpesa Chester Stakes.

Her first foray into Group company followed in the DFS Park Hill Stakes, in which she finished third.

“She’s had a very productive time in the last month or so, winning her Listed race before finishing third in the Park Hill,” said assistant trainer Charlie Johnston.

“I suppose the worry would be that improvement seems to have coincided with her being stepped up to a mile and six (furlongs), and she’s coming back to a mile and a half on Saturday.

“However, it does look like conditions will be pretty atrocious at Ascot – and there will be an emphasis on stamina over a mile and a half there on soft ground – so hopefully that will play to her strengths.”

William Haggas’ Faylaq is prominent in the market, returning to the turf after a successful all-weather debut saw him win an 11-furlong handicap at Kempton last time out.

A fruitful season has also seen the son of Dubawi pick up handicaps at both Ripon and Newmarket, before finishing a length behind Richard Hannon’s Floating Artist at Ascot in July.

“(We’re) running him back quite quick, but it’s probably his last run of the year,” said Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.

“He’s done very well. He’s a great, big horse.

“He’s been immature, and it’s taken a long time to get him together. Hopefully he’s on the right track now, so this will tell us a bit more.”

Joe Tuite hopes Surrey Thunder can register a second successive victory, after claiming the Listed Grand Prix de Clairefontaine on his last appearance.

The Le Havre colt had previously been enduring a winless season, despite performing well in a string of Group contests across Europe.

“He deserved to get his head in front last time,” said Tuite.

“He’d barely run a bad race all season – and he did it quite comfortably, truth be told.”

Tuite is not concerned about Ascot’s going report of soft with heavy places on the round course.

“We’d planned this race all along,” he said.

“It’s always looked the right race for him, and he handles cut in the ground.”

Also lining up is Andrew Balding’s Morando, twice a Group winner and in form after finishing just three-quarters of a length behind Technician in the Group Three Unibet Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury in August.

Sextant, trained by Sir Michael Stoute and owned by the Queen, was fourth in the same race and re-opposes.

The gelded son of Sea The Stars has won three times this season, taking the Listed Sportpesa Stand Cup Stakes at Chester on his last start.

The line-up is completed by Tim Easterby’s Wells Farhh Go and David Simock’s Raakib Alhawa, a winner last time out in the Listed August Stakes at Windsor.

Stamina is Diamond's strength in Cumberland Lodge
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