Virtually the first thing Richard Hannon did after taking over the reins from his father in 2014 was to win the 2,000 Guineas with Night of Thunder. He was back on the Classic trail on Saturday night after Barney Roy, who was bought privately by Godolphin after winning his maiden last autumn, won the JLT Greenham Stakes by an impressive two lengths from Godolphin’s other runner, Dream Castle.
“He’s a lovely horse,” said Hannon. “It was no secret what we thought of him.” However a furlong out he was two lengths down on Dream Castle and being hard ridden by James Doyle and it looked like a struggle but he suddenly found a turn of foot which took him sailing past his rival. Zainhom was a further four lengths back in third.
Barney Roy is now as short as 6-1 for Newmarket in a fortnight and Hannon was doing his best not to be smug about having backed him at 40-1 for the race.
“He’s always been a bit different,” he said. “When he won his maiden he looked a good horse but he was a bit wooden and keen but he’s learned to settle thanks to Sean Levey. When he was four down I said ‘that’s not a good horse’ but I love those horses which do nothing and pick up. He’d never pass anything hard on the bridle.
“I did once say he’d stay the Derby trip. He may not get that far but the extra furlong in the Guineas looks like it would suit. I needed that – Gosden’s winning everything and I watched it with him in the bar. He’ll have a great chance in the Guineas although I won it with a 33-1 shot who got beat five lengths in this race!”
Gosden is, indeed, winning everything. He won the Dubai Duty Free Fred Darling Stakes with Dabyah who made all under Frankie Dettori to come home a length and a half clear of Urban Fox under hands and heels.
Having won the Nell Gwyn with the same owner’s Daban, the likelihood is that the two fillies will be kept apart with Dabyah heading to Deauville for the French 1,000 Guineas in three weeks while Daban will put her experience of the Rowley Mile to use in the 1,000 Guineas.
The Queen on her annual visit to the two day Greenham meeting did not go home empty handed either with William Haggas sending out Call To Mind to win the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship Maiden Stakes over a mile.
At Ayr the Paul Nicholls trained Vicente, a first fence faller in the Grand National, became only the fourth horse in the last 50 years to win two Coral Scottish Nationals when he finally overhauled the brave runner-up Cogry in the shadow of the post.
It was an all Twiston-Davies affair from the last; Vicente ridden by son Sam, Cogry trained by father Nigel. Though Nicholls conceded this season’s trainers’ title last week to Nicky Henderson this £122,000 prize reduced Henderson’s lead to about £160,000 with a week to go and some handsome prize-money on offer at Sandown’s finale on Saturday.
“He was unlucky at Aintree,” said Nicholls ‘but in many ways that was the best thing that happened because he didn’t have a hard race. Sam gave him a great ride, took his time and went wide. He was bought (by Trevor Hemmings) for the National. That didn’t work out but this is his day.”
Nico de Boinville, who is due to ride Coneygree against Sizing John in the Punchestown Gold Cup on Wednesday, was taken to hospital for assessment after a fall at the first fence.