Ryan Moore’s Lingfield swoop boosts Sir Michael Stoute’s Craven challenge

Chris Cook at Lingfield Park
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Ryan Moore (in red) riding Convey leaves the stalls before winning the Betway Easter Classic All-Weather Middle-Distance Championships Conditions Stakes.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images</span>
Ryan Moore (in red) riding Convey leaves the stalls before winning the Betway Easter Classic All-Weather Middle-Distance Championships Conditions Stakes. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

As well as being an excellent jockey Ryan Moore is a useful man to have around when everyone else is getting swept along by a big occasion and needs to be brought down to earth. After he delivered a briskly efficient ride here to win the Easter Classic aboard the well-supported favourite, Convey, Moore moved smoothly on to his second-favourite occupation, baiting the media.

“It’s a great day, Ryan, a fantastic day, a record crowd, what does it mean to you to have the big winner on All Weather Finals Day?” he was asked by an effusive television presenter. “Whatever 7% is, I suppose,” Moore replied, having begun to smile when the question was only four words old.

As Moore possibly already knew, 7% of this particular prize works out at £8,715, which is fair pay for 90 seconds’ work and might have induced actual cheerfulness in others. On the other hand the 33-year-old’s response may have reflected an unrewarding day to that point, he having been knocked sideways aboard a fancied runner half an hour earlier. After the fifth race an intrepid reporter had asked him how it felt to finish third and been met with the stoniest of glares.

The British racing public will not see much of Convey in the first half of the new Flat season, as his next target is a valuable race in Hong Kong, there being no other kind of race in Hong Kong. The five-year-old’s success might be more significant as a pointer to the form of Sir Michael Stoute, who has now had five winners from his last 12 runners and will feature prominently at Newmarket’s Craven meeting next week. Stoute did not make it here because he was too busy overseeing the preparation of some flashy two-year-olds.

His fellow Newmarket trainer William Haggas was also among the winners with Second Thought, who pulled victory out of the fire with a 50-yard burst of pace. This was a triumph not just for Haggas’s skills of preparation but also for his powers of persuasion, because the owner, Liam Sheridan, got “a very big offer” for his three-year-old recently.

The trainer recommended turning it down and now the horse is more valuable still. His next target is the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot. “I think he’s pretty smart,” Haggas said. “I don’t have many that have a turn of foot but he’s got one.”

Haggas, whose Muthmir had scored about 10 minutes earlier in a prep-race at Bath, is pleased his horses seem to be well forward because the best of them are about to be tested during Craven week. “I’ve got some golf lined up next Sunday with Michael Bell and Ed Dunlop,” he said. “I’ve told them we’ve got all our bullets firing next week, so I might have to cancel it and go to Beachy Head if it all goes wrong.”

Rivet is at the centre of Haggas’s thoughts. Part-owned by his father-in-law, Lester Piggott, the colt is a 2,000 Guineas prospect and will put his credentials on the line in the Craven itself on Thursday. “Like all trainers, days before the trial, I think he’ll improve for it and I’ve left a bit to work on,” the trainer added, wryly.

He will also run Sea Of Grace, “a nice filly” who has joined him from Ireland, in the Nell Gwyn and be well represented in the maiden races. “At the end of next week I’ll have a nice group of horses or an ordinary one.”

This Lingfield card may have made painful viewing for David “Dandy” Nicholls, who quit training last month, citing financial problems. Two of his former horses, Kimberella and Sovereign Debt, won here – bagging £186,000 between them.

Sovereign Debt provided the best moment so far in the career of 40-year-old Ruth Carr, who has 40 horses “squeezed in” at her North Yorkshire yard and was planning to make calls on the return journey to order the building of some more boxes. “I’m sure if David thought his good horse had to go somewhere, he’d be glad it came to us,” she said. “It’s sad for David but it’s a big day for us.

“I’m not sure how much of the credit of training I can take but we got him qualified, we got him here and we got him right on the day. It’s for everybody, from grandma helping in the office to husband mending water troughs. I was absolutely delighted, over the moon to get a chance with a horse like him.”

Otherwise the day was dominated by Newmarket, with Roger Varian and Saeed bin Suroor training winners. Varian reported that his Cape Byron had had a setback that would keep him out of the Guineas but the trainer hopes to return here next month for the Derby Trial with Dubawi Prince.

Bin Suroor, meanwhile, is in fine form but is not so sure he has the ammunition for the very best races. “We start really well, this season, nine winners already,” said the Godolphin man. “I have some nice horses coming. For the punters, the public, they’re looking for winners and we have winners. But the big races, the quality, we have to find it.”

Chris Cook’s Easter Saturday tips


1.45 Officer Hoolihan 2.15 Wolf Sword 2.50 Princess Mononoke 3.25 Lord Ballim 4.00 Total Assets 4.30 Tommy O’Dwyer 5.00 The Vocalist


1.50 Ionization 2.25 Monsieur Joe

3.00 Rashford’s Double 3.35 Sindarban (nb)

4.05 Washeek 4.40 What’s The Story 5.10 Reckless Serenade

Newton Abbot

1.55 African Tiger (nb) 2.30 Ruby Russet 3.05 Abidjan 3.40 Amour De Nuit 4.10 Cucklington 4.45 Waterloo Warrior 5.15 Pantxoa


2.00 Plunger 2.35 A Momentofmadness 3.10 Solar Flair 3.45 Laugh Aloud 4.15 Blending 4.50 Executive Force 5.25 Velvet Revolution (nap)


2.05 Some Buckle 2.40 Shanroe Santos 3.15 Brotherly Company 3.50 Late Night Lily 4.20 Sam Red 4.55 Conquer Gold 5.30 Bertie Bori


4.35 Jumira Bridge 5.05 Endeavour 5.35 King Of Paris 6.05 Aldeburgh 6.35 Onehelluvatouch 7.05 Il Sicario 7.35 Essaka


5.20 Calling Des Blins 5.50 Ashoka 6.20 Walkami 6.50 Spader 7.20 Goonjim 7.50 Monsieur Arkadin

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