Despite the ground conditions worsening from Soft to Soft (Heavy in places) after the second race, Boodles May Festival Ladies Day proved to be a resounding success on the Roodee, with racegoers and smart performances aplenty. The feature races came at 2:40pm and 3:15pm in the Dee Stakes (Listed) and Ormonde Stakes (Group 3) on a day where sunny spells broke through intermittently.
Race 1 – CAA Stellar Handicap Stakes (Class 2, 4yo+, 5f)
Showing drastic improvement for a pipe-opener at Bath in April, Nymphadora ran out a smart winner of the first race on Boodles May Festival Ladies Day, returning at odds of 3/1 for Oisin Murphy and Andrew Balding by 1 length. Although slowly away from the gates, Nymphadora found herself in a nice position on the inside rail for much of the contest, with the front rank taken up by previous course winners Night On Earth, Lihou, and Look Out Louis in a strongly run race. Rounding the home turn and looking to be travelling well, Nymphadora stalked new leader Lihou into the straight, lobbing along nicely in the leader’s slipstream with a furlong to go. Ready to strike, Oisin Murphy pushed the button aboard Nymphadora shortly after the furlong marker, sending his filly to the front and keeping her up to her work in the closing stages to fend of the late challenge of Royal runner Kings Lynn by a length, with Lihou eventually fading into third place. With the highlight of last season coming in the Chipchase Stakes (Grp. 3) with Sense Of Duty, winning owners at St Albans Bloodstock Limited have yet another smart recruit in Nymphadora, herself already a Listed winner!
Race 2 – Deepbridge Capital Handicap (Class 2, 3yo, 7 ½f)
In a gripping final furlong battle, Surely Not (7/2) came home in front by ½ a length in the Deepbridge Capital Handicap, ridden home by William Buick for Dominic Ffrench Davis. Racing rather freely along the inside rail, Surely Not was positioned towards the rear of mid-division for the most part, with the lead being occupied by Urban Sprawl (13/2) and Self Aclaim (28/1) as the field made their way into the final few furlongs of the contest. Under strong pressure from Richard Kingscote, Self Aclaim made his challenge on the outside of long-time leader Urban Sprawl on the turn into the straight, the pair pursued closest of all by Vetiver on the inside and Surely Not down the centre of the track. With four of them now in line as the field entered the final furlong, it was anybody’s race. However, responding well for William Buick’s urgings and building up a head of steam, Surely Not swooped late down the outside of Self Aclaim in the final 50 yards, grabbing the race by the scruff of the neck to claim the spoils; Urban Sprawl held on for the third ahead of Vetiver. Well on his way to beating his personal best of 13 winners in a season, Dominic Ffrench Davis has quickly managed to level last season’s tally of 9 winners (with only 40 runners) at an impressive 23% strike-rate!
Race 3 – Boodles Dee Stakes (Listed Race) (Colts & Geldings) (Class 1, 3yo, 1m 2 ½f)
Showing a willing attitude under strong pressure in the final furlong, San Antonio (16/5) held off the challenge of Alder (10/11F) in a thrilling edition of the Dee Stakes, providing yet another victory in the race for Ryan Moore and Aidan O’Brien. Always prominent from very early on, San Antonio raced in second place for much of the race, keeping close tabs on 25/1 leader Stormbuster under Oisin Murphy, with 11/10F Alder sitting in last place under Gavin Ryan. With Stormbuster seemingly unable to maintain the gallop as the sextet powered on into the home straight, Moore took the initiative aboard San Antonio, quickly pushing his mount into a narrow lead around the cutaway ahead of a rallying Alder. Not willing to give up his newly established lead, San Antonio stuck on gamely in the final furlong of the contest, seeing off Alder in determined fashion by 1 ¾ lengths at the line, possibly with a view to running in next month’s Epsom Derby against yesterday’s Vase winner Arrest. For the second year running, donning the famous colours of Tabor, Smith, Magnier & Westerberg (with Star Of India victorious in the 2022 renewal), Moore brought home another Dee Stakes for Aidan O’Brien providing the trainer with his tenth win in the race since 2005!
Race 4 – tote.co.uk Bet £5 Get £20 Ormonde Stakes (Group 3) (Class 1, 4yo+, 1m 5 ½f)
Becoming just the second horse in over 20 years to win consecutive renewals of the Ormonde Stakes, Hamish (7/4) brought the house down in the fourth race of the afternoon, staying on well by 1 ¾ lengths to take Group 3 honours for Tom Marquand and William Haggas. Settling well under the steady gallop, Hamish raced in last place for much of the Ormonde Stakes, the field being led by last year’s Chester Vase and King Edward VII victor Changingoftheguard (11/10F) under Ryan Moore. With the majority of the field coming under the pump rounding the final bend, Hamish travelled ominously well between horses, Marquand weaving his way through the pack aboard the veteran of the field to take much closer order upon entering the straight. Making his challenge on the outside of Lone Eagle (10/1) in the final furlong, Hamish kicked on well under pressure from his pilot, stretching clear in the closing stages to win comfortably by over a length; Changingoftheguard faded into third after struggling to maintain the pace. Owned and trained by the Haggas family, Hamish has been a stable star over the years, also claiming Group 3 glory in the 2022 Cumberland Lodge!
Race 5 – TMT Group Handicap (Class 3, 4yo+ 1m 2 ½f)
In a breath-taking blanket finish where the first five home were covered by just 1 ½ lengths, the 9/4F City Streak stuck on well in the final 100yds to claim victory in Race 5, providing Oisin Murphy and Andrew Balding with a double on the day. Rather keen in mid-division during the early stages, City Streak was positioned on the outside of runners under Oisin Murphy, racing alongside Stately Home (4/1) as the field were taken along by 25/1 outsider Dashing Roger at a leisurely tempo. With a wall of horses in with a chance after negotiating the home turn, City Streak took the eye down the centre of the track, and despite a collision with the fading Jean Baptiste looked certain to play a big hand in the finish. Flying late from an unpromising early position, Dark Pine swooped to the lead up the inside rail with a furlong to go, wrestling the advantage away from Dashing Roger. However, not to be denied, Murphy pulled out more aboard City Streak, the 4-year-old gelding relentlessly cutting down the deficit to squeeze a neck in front of Dark Pine in the dying strides; Dashing Roger held on for third. Not the first horse to win for Andrew Balding and owner Lord Blyth on the Roodee, the pair also had great success with Duretto, winning the Listed 2016 Stand Cup and 2018 Chester Stakes!
Race 6 – British EBF Ruby Anniversary Maiden Stakes (GBB Race) (Class 2, 2yo, 5f)
Taking the second-last race of the day in eye-catching fashion, Hackman (11/8F) made it two in a row for favourite backers on the Roodee in Race 6, bringing home the gold medal for local trainer Hugo Palmer by 1 ¾ lengths under a confident James Doyle. In a race depleted by five non-runners, Hackman broke well from his outside stall and quickly found himself in the lead under James Doyle, followed in the main by Innvincible Friend (5/2) and Big Time Rascal (5/1) as the field quickly made their way for home. Clearly travelling best of all, Hackman rounded the final bend with the minimum of fuss and soon extended his lead by a further couple of lengths with the furlong marker in sight. With no immediate challenge coming from in behind, Hackman maintained the advantage in the closing stages, merely ridden out by Doyle to seal the victory ahead of the gallant Innvincible Friend in second and The Camden Colt in third, the latter running an eye-catching race on debut. An often-potent partnership when teaming up, Palmer and Doyle have had plenty of Group level success together in the past, including consecutive victories in the 2016 and 2017 German 1,000 Guineas!
Race 7 – Halliwell Jones Handicap (Class 4, 3yo, 1m 4 ½f)
A race eventually dominated by Charlie Johnston stablemates, Struth (7/1) proved just the more determined in a tight-knit finish under Joe Fanning, denying Demilion and Franny Norton by ¾ of a length in the shadows of the post. Racing in rear through the early fractions, Joe Fanning made a forward move aboard Struth after the opening five furlongs to sit in a handy second position behind leader Sovereign Spirit (4/1), the pair a length ahead of Demilion (5/1) in third. Travelling smoothly through the soft ground, Struth swept to the front after the two-furlong pole, Joe Fanning keen to stretch out the field as they made their way into the straight for the final time. Soon challenged by stablemate Demilion on his outside, Struth looked to have his work cut out a furlong from home, with 11/4F Cantora also making a forward move towards the inside rail. However, plucky and determined, Struth found a second gear once challenged and swiftly pulled a length clear with 100 yards to race, staying on well to hold off Demilion by ¾ of a length, with Cantora a further ½ length behind in third. Often associated with the Johnston stable when Mark Johnston was the lead trainer, Joe Fanning also teamed up with the yard to win the 2021 Ascot Gold Cup aboard Subjectivist!
Race report by Adam Perkins
THE CAA STELLAR HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 2,4+yo)
Distance: 5f,15y | Prize: £40,000
THE TOTE.co.uk Bet £5 Get £20 ORMONDE STAKES (CLASS 1,4+yo) (Group 3)
Distance: 1m,5f,84y | Prize: £120,000
THE BRITISH EBF RUBY ANNIVERSARY MAIDEN STAKES (CLASS 2,2yo) (GBB RACE)
Distance: 5f,15y | Prize: £25,000
THE HALLIWELL JONES HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 4,3yo)
Distance: 1m,4f,63y | Prize: £25,000