Saint Lawrence appeared to appreciate a switch to front-running tactics as he got his career back on track with a tenacious success in the Denford Stakes at Newbury.
Having finished fourth in both the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket and the Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot, the Roger Varian-trained son of Al Kazeem finally added to his Redcar maiden success in June with victory in the seven-furlong Listed prize.
Sent straight into the lead by Andrea Atzeni, the 11-2 chance was not for passing, holding the previously-unbeaten 6-5 favourite Dhahabi at bay by three-quarters of a length.
Varian said: “I was initially disappointed at Ascot, but it was a funny race. Early on they raced in two groups and we followed the (John) Gosden horse and the (Owen) Burrows horse, who were the two market principals that day so you would say we would have position A.
“For whatever reason they folded early, which left us a little isolated and we had to join the main group and the winner and second had first run. I’m upgrading his run and though I’m not saying it cost him his winning chance, I thought he ran better than the bare result. He has always worked like a nice horse at home and we hadn’t lost faith in him.
“I’m pleased for the horse as he was one of the ones we nominated early on. Although he is by Al Kazeem he showed up well on the gallops and I thought he could be a Chesham horse, but we didn’t go down that route and he didn’t disappoint in the Pat Eddery or the Superlative.
“We had been taking him back and asking him to make up plenty of ground and we thought on testing ground we would make our experience tell. Andrea gave him a good ride from the front.”
Though plans remain fluid for Saint Lawrence, a step up in both class and trip could both be on the agenda on his next start.
He said: “I said to Andrea would he get a mile and he thinks he will. I don’t think he has to necessarily go a mile next time, but he has had five runs already. The Royal Lodge can favour experience and now he is a Listed winner we have got to aim at Group Threes and Twos. He will be better on better ground, but he coped with it.”
Andrew Balding earmarked next month’s Group Three Shadwell Dick Poole Stakes as a likely target for Alcohol Free, who made a winning debut in the opening division of the Unibet Fillies’ Novice Stakes.
Balding said of the 17-2 winner: “She looked a nice filly at home. That was our first two-year-old filly we have run this year. That was a pleasing start and she coped with the ground. It is nice, as it looks like we have a nice filly for Jeff Smith.
“Oisin felt that was right (six furlongs) for the time being and that she has a lot of natural speed. Jeff is chairman of Salisbury so the Dick Poole will be high on the agenda.”
Tempus (4-1) was awarded the Unibet You’re On Handicap following a stewards’ inquiry.
Although finishing second behind Overwrite, the placings were revised with stewards at the track deeming interference caused by David Probert aboard the Mark Johnston-trained three-year-old during the final furlong costing Tempus the chance of victory.
Harry Charlton, assistant to his father, Roger, said: “There was quite clear interference and on the line Tempus’ head was up and Jason (Watson) felt like he nearly won it anyway. Of the interference Jason said all of a sudden the lead horse had its behind right in his chest and next minute he was switching around it.
“It can’t not have cost him at least a length and it seemed that way.”
On the 4-1 winner he added: “Three down he was in trouble, two down he hit a flat spot and his talent has got him going again. He needs a flat track and wants a bit of cut and I wouldn’t be surprised if they now want to run him in stakes races.”
There was a further sting in the tail for Probert, who was given a three-day ban for careless riding.
The November Handicap at Doncaster may be almost three months away, but trainer Joe Tuite believes it could be the ideal target for Surrey Pride (9-2) who opened his account for the campaign with a battling neck success in the Unibet 3 Boosts A Day Handicap.
Tuite said: “I would have been a bit disappointed if he had not won this today as he wouldn’t be the horse we thought he was.
“If he did get a mile and a half we could look at the November Handicap. We will not rush him back.”