A very full afternoon and evening at Chepstow began and ended with music, but in between early arrivals watched Masar’s decisive victory in the Epsom Derby and seven live races of our own. It was a fine, warm evening and the going was soft, good to soft in places. Racing at or near the front of the field paid dividends.
The first race had the biggest field (15) and was the longest on the card, run over 1m4f. The money came for Sula Island (6/1 into 3/1 fav) on her first attempt at this trip. Tom Marquand had to get after her when Ancient Longing went for home three out, and she proved her stamina by overhauling the leader in the last half furlong. The length and a quarter winner is trained by Alan King, so it’s likely we’ll see her over hurdles later in the year.
David Evans’s Essenaitch (4/1) had twice finished a close second at Windsor recently and today he went one better in the 1m2f handicap. He was going well, shadowing the leader until a quarter of a mile out, when the promising apprentice Rossa Ryan drove him into the lead. The result was soon in no doubt, and he was value for more than the bare two and a quarter lengths he finished ahead of Power Home.
In the 5f race for two-year-olds the Richard Hughes-trained Shaybani (4/5 fav) was expected to build on his debut second at Goodwood and he did so in good style. He had a narrow advantage for most of the race until Big Boots came alongside and possibly headed him a furlong out. Pat Dobbs asked Shaybani for more effort and he moved ahead in the last hundred yards to win by a length and a quarter.
From the Andrew Balding stable, course and distance winner Berkshire Boy (4/1) took the 7f handicap with some bold tactics employed by his rider Jason Watson. He chose not to join the rest of the field, who’d moved across to the stands side. Instead he ran straight up the middle of the track. Wearing a visor for the first time, he led the whole way and by the time they reached the furlong pole it was clear he wasn’t stopping. He won by a length and a quarter, with Fox Trotter running on well to come in second.
The fifth race was over 7f, and front-running again proved to be the best strategy. Flying Sparkle (11/8 fav) and Uther Pendragon were first and second right from the start, both of them wearing first-time headgear. The latter could never quite get on terms and was a neck in arrears at the line. Nothing else got into the race, although Urban Aspect made late progress to finish third after being very slowly away. Michael Bell trained the winner and Cameron Noble, who rode two winners here last week, was the successful jockey.
Kinglami (11/4 jt fav) achieved his tenth career success when lifting this evening’s 6f handicap, a race he won in 2017. He shared the lead with Seamster throughout, until mastering that rival in the last 75 yards. However, Field Of Vision was finishing like a train and he flashed past the post seemingly level with the leader. The judge ruled that Kinglami had held on by the minimum margin of a nose. Trainer John O’Shea has hit form with 12/1 and 25/1 winners in the last week. Jockey Rossa Ryan was completing a double.
The finale was a 5f sprint. Ed de Giles’s Quantum Dot (9/1) had won over course and distance three times, though he hasn’t always been the most consistent of horses and he didn’t have his preferred fast ground today. Nevertheless he showed great early speed and Callum Shepherd kept him going so well that he made all the running. Nuzha was well held two lengths back in second.