Via Sistina comfortably scoops Dahlia Stakes prize

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Via Sistina was a runaway winner in a strong renewal of the Howden Dahlia Stakes for jockey Jamie Spencer and trainer George Boughey. The strapping daughter of Fastnet Rock, reportedly the biggest horse in the Newmarket yard, had won a Group Three at Toulouse in November, having finished runner-up on her first start for the yard in a similar contest at Newmarket. Formerly with Joseph Tuite, the five-year-old was back down in trip to nine furlongs for her seasonal debut and relished the soft ground, travelling sweetly throughout the Group Two contest. As the field split into two groups early, Spencer sat motionless on the far side as last season's Falmouth winner Prosperous Voyage set the pace, and he was still on the bridle when the pace quickened. With two furlongs to race Via Sistina, sent off the 5/2 favourite, was asked to quicken and she strode clear in tremendous fashion to score eased down by six lengths from Al Husn, who got the better of Astral Beau by half a length for the minor honours. Boughey said: "She's done very well over the winter and Jamie said he had them covered all the way. "The ground is so key to her - she's got a hell of a turn of foot in soft ground. Her work is good on decent ground, but when it's soft I haven't got anything to go with her, so this hasn't come as a huge surprise. When the rain started to fall we were pretty happy. "She's done it with consummate ease there. She's not so free now, she's able to relax and that's going to enable her to get better and better. "Even at the back end of last year we were talking about the Prix de l'Opera on Arc day as a realistic possibility. It's been soft for the last however many years on Arc day and we'll work back from that. "The Pretty Polly on Irish Derby day is possibly the next step and she's not sort of pace, so I think she's pretty versatile trip-wise. "I don't really know what her trip is, but the softer the ground the better for her really."

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