Richard Hannon landed another major two-year-old prize when Zebedee got up close home to beat Stone Of Folca and Choose Wisely in the Betfair Molecomb Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.

Settled towards the rear by an ultra-confident Richard Hughes, he had plenty of ground to make up but had his main market rival, the keen-going Stone Of Folca, well within his sights.
Kevin Ryan’s Choose Wisely was still in front half a furlong out but Stone Of Folca went past on his inside before Hughes produced the 2-1 favourite to win cosily by a neck and a head.

A delighted Hughes said: “That’s what it’s all about. “The first day he ever won at Windsor I felt him pull up with me and he only won by half a length.

“I said to the boss afterwards that this horse needed holding up and the only day we didn’t was at Royal Ascot – and that was the boss’s fault!
“It was worth having a go but it didn’t work, so we dropped him in today.”
Winning owner Julie Wood added: “Richard wanted to drop him in today after he was fully exposed at Ascot and had to run his own race from the front.
“It’s a bit heart-stopping. You think he’s going to get there and when he does it’s great, but when there’s only half a furlong to go and he’s still tucked in your heart’s in your mouth.”

Hannon said: “I’m going to have a heart attack if Hughesie keeps riding for me!
“When he went to Windsor first time he went off odds-on favourite, the whole world knew about him.
“He is just one of those horses that keeps improving and I think there is more to come.
“The horse has got a lot of options and I’ll have to see which of the sales races he’s entered in, but he could well go for the Gimcrack Stakes at York.

“We’ll hold him up again and he’ll get the six furlongs.”
John Best said of Stone Of Folca: “We thought it was going to be a real fast pace but they didn’t go quick enough for us and he fought hard early.
“There was only him and Zebedee travelling and I could always see him cruising in behind us. He is another Hannon special.
“I think the Nunthorpe is still the target as he only has 8st 1lb in it and they will go a proper pace which will allow us to relax. We must go there with a chance as he has so much speed.”

Kevin Ryan said of third-placed Choose Wisely: “His owner is keen to go for the Nunthorpe, but I think we will head to the Gimcrack as I believe six furlongs will suit him.”


Sky Bet cut the Paul Nicholls-trained Pasco to 25s from 40/1 for the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival following his easy win in the Rooney/Hall Beginners’ Chase at Newbury on Thursday.

The dashing grey jumped well throughout but wasn’t hard pressed for the win as he eased home 13 lengths ahead of Isn’t That Lucky.

Straw Bear disappointed once again over fences and he is now 50/1 for the Arkle with Sky Bet, but has been removed from many a bookmakers’ list for the Festival showpiece.

Nicholls said of the 8/11 winning favourite afterwards: “This was always his target, he just needed the run at Exeter but he was sharper today.”

However, the champion trainer hPicturead a warning for punters who might fancy Pasco for the Arkle.

He continued: “I don’t think an up and down track like Cheltenham will suit him, he needs a galloping track.

“He’ll definitely get further as he gets older and we might step him up in trip next time.”

“He might come back here for a two-mile-two-furlong race over Christmas as a flat track suits him.”

Deep Purple was introduced into the Arkle betting at 25/1 by the Harrogate firm after winning the Audrey Chudleigh Memorial Beginners’ Chase chase at Taunton.

Evan Williams’ charge went through the top of a couple of fences but in the main jumped soundly and boldly under Paul Moloney to record a three and a quarter length success from Laredo Sound.

It was the seven-year-old’s second start over fences following his fourth on chasing debut at Wetherby earlier in the month.


duke-of-marmalade.jpgDuke Of Marmalade will face seven rivals as he bids to provide Aidan O’Brien with his 14th Group One victory of the season in Saturday’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

The Ballydoyle supremo is enjoying a superlative campaign and even has the luxury of Hardwicke Stakes winner Macarthur as his second string.

Red Rock Canyon will also represent Coolmore and is expected to take up pace-making duties.

Youmzain, runner-up to O’Brien’s Dylan Thomas in both this race and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last season, arrives on a high having landed the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud last time.

Mick Channon’s consistent five-year-old will be running in his 11th consecutive Group One race.

Sir Michael Stoute has two strong candidates in Papal Bull and Ask as he aims for a first win since Golan’s triumph in 2002.

Last year’s St Leger winner Lucarno will represent John Gosden and arrives in top form having won the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes on his most recent outing.

Terry Mills’ Petara Bay, third behind Lucarno and Papal Bull last time out, completes the field.


dargent.jpgTrainer Alan King admits he has “no idea” whether D’Argent can become the first grey winner of the John Smith’s Grand National for almost half a century on Saturday.

King hopes D’Argent takes to the unique Aintree fences as the 11-year-old bids to emulate Nicolaus Silver’s 1961 triumph.

He said: “I have no idea whether D’Argent will take to the fences on Saturday – I think we’ll know our fate early on in the race.”

Jockey Robert Thornton, seeking his first victory in 11 attempts, agrees, adding: “I schooled D’Argent on Monday. He’s kind of got his own way of doing things jumping-wise, but I’m not going to change that.

“He’s in good form so as long as I get him into a rhythm early he’ll certainly give me a good ride.”

Bewleys Berry fell at Becher’s on the second circuit last year, but Howard Johnson’s charge has got round the famous course twice when finishing runner-up in the last two renewals of the Becher Chase.

Owner Graham Wylie said: “He was pulled up last time and there were two reasons for it. Firstly it was very heavy ground and he doesn’t go on that.

“Howard wanted to get him out before Aintree and the only other option was at Doncaster, where it was firm, and we didn’t want to risk him on that either.

“The other thing is that he doesn’t seem to run very well anywhere apart from Aintree. They say horses for courses, and he’s one of them.

“He’s only ever won for me on his first time as a novice chaser at Wetherby. Everywhere else, he’s been disappointing, but he just seems to light up at Aintree and let’s hope he does so on Saturday.”

Timmy Murphy admits he has played safe in choosing Comply Or Die over Vodka Bleu as his mount on Saturday.

Murphy, without a National win in 12 attempts, felt he could not desert the more fancied runner, especially after winning the Eider Chase at Newcastle.

“I think it was the safest decision. He’s proved that he stays and that he jumps safely, two things you need to do in the National,” he said.

“Vodka Bleu is an old favourite of mine and a lovely old horse. We’ve had some great days. He’s been round here while Comply hasn’t, (but) I couldn’t get off the second or third favourite for a 33-1 shot.”


masterminded.jpgPaul Nicholls could run Kauto Star and brilliant Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Master Minded at Aintree next week.

The latter may line up in the John Smith’s Melling Chase on Friday, while Kauto Star will be entered in both that race and Thursday’s totesport Bowl.

Master Minded was under consideration for the Kerrygold Champion Chase at Punchestown next month but Nicholls told the Racing Post: “The drawback with Punchestown is that the ground can turn a bit quick by then and as he’s so well, we’d be silly not to look at the Melling.

“Kauto Star will be entered in both the Melling Chase and the totesport Bowl on Thursday.

“But I’ll have to be satisfied with the ground and both horses’ wellbeing before we give them the go-ahead.”


newmarket.jpgUnbeaten juvenile Bruges is unlikely to head for the Stan James 2000 Guineas after scoping badly earlier in the week.Having beaten subsequent Group Three scorer Norman Invader on his debut at the Curragh, the Marju colt went on to take the Listed Golden Fleece Stakes at Leopardstown in impressive style.David Myerscough’s colt was then snapped up by leading owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and although he is as short as 33-1 for the Newmarket Classic, he is set to miss out.

Myerscough said: “We’ve had a bit of a hold up with him as he scoped badly earlier this week.

“He almost certainly won’t make the first Guineas at Newmarket and I’m not sure when he will be out.

“I haven’t spoken with Angus Gold (Maktoum’s racing manager) yet so we have no running plans at this stage.”


Frankie Dettori insists Jalil is capable of denting the lofty reputation of Curlin in Saturday’s Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba.

Dettori takes the mount of Godolphin’s improving colt and was buoyed by the four-year-old’s victory in round one of the Al Maktoum Challenge earlier this month.

Despite Jalil’s unbeaten three-from-three record in Dubai this winter, the three-time World Cup-winning rider is acutely aware of the threat posed by Curlin, the American Horse of the Year.

“I have been very impressed by Curlin. But he is beatable, every horse is beatable,” stressed Dettori.

“But if the Curlin of the Breeders’ Cup or Preakness Stakes turns up, then it is going to be very hard.

“But he has had to travel a long way – it is different conditions on a different track. We have a good hand and we have to go out thinking we can beat him.

“But it is still there in black and white that he is rated 11lb higher than us and that tells its own story.”

After costing the Godolphin operation

9.7million as a yearling, Jalil last year failed to impress on the turf in Britain.

However, the son of Storm Cat is slowly living up to his huge price-tag.

“Jalil always had potential, he is a fantastic-looking horse – a little on the weak side – but he always had potential to become a good one,” added Dettori, who finished last on Discreet Cat in the 2007 World Cup.

curlin.jpg“He seems to love the dirt and every time we have pulled the bar up he has rose to it and gone on.

“We haven’t got to the bottom of him yet, but he has had three challenges this year and every time he has come up with the goods.

“Now he has got a higher step to climb but he has got something more to give.”

Trainer Saeed bin Suroor accepts Curlin is the one to beat but is confident Jalil can continue on the upgrade.

He said: “Curlin is a star and you could say he is the best horse in the race coming from America.

“I have a lot of respect for him, but Jalil is an improving horse all the time.

“When I saw him last year I knew that he was a good age and he would do better.

“With time he has improved and improved his record – that shows you that the horse is doing very well.”


This afternoon’s meeting at Newcastle goes ahead as scheduled after a frost-free night at Gosforth Park.

Track officials scrapped their intended 8am precautionary inspection as temperatures failed to dip below freezing.

Clerk of the course James Armstrong said: “We hovered around zero degrees but we had good cloud-cover and we are fine for racing.”

Newcastle’s seven-racing National Hunt card commences at 2.30pm, with the going good, good to firm in places.