Safe Voyage gives John Quinn landmark winner at Epsom

Surrey Stakes success is 1,000th career victory for North Yorkshire-based trainer.

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Safe Voyage gave North Yorkshire-based trainer John Quinn his 1,000th career winner by taking the Listed honours in the Investec Surrey Stakes at Epsom.

The seven-year-old stable stalwart powered home in the final half-furlong to assert close home and land a tidy victory – in a track-record time.

Shine So Bright had set a strong gallop with Vale Of Kent close up and Safe Voyage a few lengths off the pace.

But with the leader’s stride shortening in the final furlong, Safe Voyage (6-5 favourite) reeled him in to score by a length and a half from Vale Of Kent.

Speaking from his home in Settrington, Quinn said: “We’d have loved to have been at Epsom, but we weren’t sure what all the protocols were going to be and myself and Sue (wife) just decided to watch it at home – we’re there in spirit!

“He did it well in the end and he’s broken the track record, which is unbelievable. They’ve gone very hard in front and didn’t stop, but he’s picked up well and we’re delighted.

“It was a new track for him and the ground was acceptable, but probably not ideal. We know he likes soft ground, but he’s handled it well.

“There is a race at Ascot next Saturday for him and we’ll see how he is, but we’re probably more likely to wait for the Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh (July 18).”

On reaching the 1,000-winner milestone, Quinn, who is equally adept at sending out winners on the Flat and over jumps, added: “It’s great to get there, finally. I think we’ve been training 25 years and in my first year we had two winners, in the second year we had one winner and in the third year we had four, so it was a slow burner!

“We’ve been lucky to have some very good horses over the past 10 or 12 years and we’re fortunate to have some very good owners and some very good staff, so a big thanks to all of them.”

Twaasol showed his superiority in the closing stages to maintain his unbeaten record in the Investec Woodcote EBF Stakes.

The Owen Burrows-trained colt came with a strong run on the outside in the hands of Martin Harley to back up his debut success at Windsor in cosy style.

In a race won last year by Pinatubo, Inhaler broke smartly out of the stalls to lead the five runners in the early stages, with Mutazawwed keeping him company.

Modern News and Twaasol (9-4 joint-favourite) made their moves over two furlongs out, with the latter pulling clear to win by a length and a half. Modern News was second and Mutazawwed third.

Burrows said: “He was very good. He’s a neat little horse – not over-big – but he’s got a great mind and he’s a good mover.

“You’ve always got that worry (about the track), and he’d only had the one start. But he’s a well-balanced horse, so I was confident that he’d handle the place.

“He has always been very professional in the way he has gone about his work at home. I said at Windsor he surprised me how professional he was. He was working nicely and we expected a good run – mine are not normally fully wound up first time out, but the way he did it you could not have been more pleased.

“We could have gone for a novice with a penalty, but I thought we might as well have a go at this as he is a well-balanced colt.

“When he won at Windsor I said to Martin he will want in seven in time and that has been on the back of my mind. I think we will have a look at the Vintage at Goodwood now, as Martin said just then that up in grade he wants to be going up to seven furlongs.

“As he has been round here the track at Goodwood should hold no fears.”

On following in the hoofprints of Pinatubo, who went on to be crowned champion two-year-old, he added: “I wouldn’t get too carried away just yet, but he’s obviously done nothing wrong and he’s one to look forward to.

“It’s great to have a winner on Derby day. It’s a little bit different, but it’s great to be here and we’ve got to be grateful that we are.”

Sky Defender sprang a 22-1 surprise in the Investec Handicap to win for the third time in seven starts this year.

Joe Fanning always had the Mark Johnston-trained colt close to the pace set by Mr Scaramanga and Johnny Drama, before setting him alight in the straight.

Horses from the back struggled to make an impact as Sky Defender kicked for home and was soon in control, crossing the line three-quarters of a length ahead of Breath Caught. Tinandali stayed on well for third place, a further length and three-quarters away.

Johnston said: “His starting price was nonsensical. He was 33-1 when I looked on my phone and I said to Joe in the paddock, ‘I can’t understand this’. He’d only had three runs since his last win and on one of those he was second to West End Charmer, which was a very good run.

“He’s a high-class handicapper. I’ve not made any long-term plans with him and we’ll just try to find another one.”

On the day as a whole, he added: “It’s hugely different. As everyone knows, I think they stopped racing too soon and started too late, but it’s great to have it back and wonderful we can have racing here.

“It’s terrible for the racecourse and terrible for the owners and the people that can’t be here. There’s no atmosphere on course, but watching on television, it’s actually the same as normal.

“I can’t say I enjoy it – coming racing today, there’s not a lot happening. I was speaking to Andrew Balding at Newmarket after he won the 2000 Guineas and said to him ‘I’m sure the team at home had more fun than you did’, and he said ‘absolutely’. If anything, it’s less of an experience coming to the track.”

Safe Voyage gives John Quinn landmark winner at Epsom
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