More than 17,000 racegoers made their way to the Roodee for the 2023 edition of Family Day, on an afternoon filled with fun, sun, and top-quality sport. The feature race came at 3:38pm in the Net World Sports Queensferry Stakes (Listed), with ground conditions Soft (Heavy In Places) throughout the day.
Race 1 – Britvic Handicap (Class 4, 3yo+, 1m 4 ½f)
Much the best in the first race of the afternoon, Alba Longa (EvsF) booted 2 ¾ lengths clear of the opposition in tidy style to record her second victory of the season, with Jim Crowley doing the steering for trainer Ralph Beckett. Although slowest out of the starting stalls, Alba Longa found herself in a prominent position throughout the opening circuit of the contest, racing out wide of early leader Dreams Adozen (13/2), ahead of Percy Jones (11/1) and 11-year-old veteran Restorer (13/2). With most of the field under pressure on the turn into the straight, the two travelling notably better than the rest were Dreams Adozen and Alba Longa, the pair still holding sway up top as they led the field into the final two furlongs of the contest. In the clear and moving up sweetly alongside Dreams Adozen, Alba Longa quickly asserted passing the furlong pole, Crowley now drawing the stick to keep his mount on the straight and narrow. The race now in safe keeping, Crowley merely had to push out Alba Longa to make sure, the leader comfortably clear of Dreams Adozen in second place, who in turn finished a couple of lengths clear of Percy Jones in third. Having scooped the 2022 runnings of the Yorkshire Oaks, Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with star mare Alpinista in 2022, winning owner Kirsten Rausing looks to have another nice prospect!
Race 2 – Alan Taylor Nursery Handicap (Class 5, 2yo, 7f)
Reversing the form of her head-to-head clash with Pretence (6/4F) on the Roodee in June’s selling handicap, Making Dreams (4/1) came home a ¾-length victor of Race 2 under Brandon Wilkie, the progressive 2-year-old winning for the second time in as many weeks for Karl Burke. Despite being well berthed in Stall 1, Wilkie seemed content to keep Making Dreams on the inside rail towards the rear of midfield through the opening half mile, leaving Guns And Flowers (8/1) to take the field along ahead of Jakima (14/1) and Line Sheet (14/1). With a couple of furlongs left to race, Wilkie waited patiently for racing room up the inside before delivering his challenge aboard Making Dreams, trapped behind the ridden along Jakima as the field made their way into the home straight. With Pretence (6/4F) proving to be disappointing for favourite-backers having raced out wide throughout, Guns And Flowers was the one who seemed to be in control with a furlong to go, kicking on in front as many of the opposition weakened away. However, responding well for pressure now in the clear, Making Dreams delivered her challenge late up the inside and readily stretched her neck out in the shadows of the post to hold off Guns And Flowers by ¾ of a length. A trainer notorious for bringing through smart 2-year-olds, Karl Burke already has Listed and Group 3 successes in the bag this season courtesy of smart juvenile Elite Status: congratulations, Karl!
Race 3 – British EBF Ruby Anniversary Novice Stakes (GBB/IRE Incentive Race) (Class 4, 2yo, 7f)
Springing a surprise in getting the better of her more fancied stablemate Aragon Castle (6/4), Marcella (18/1) swooped from the rear to claim the spoils in Race 3, delivered perfectly by David Probert to score by a length for trainer Andrew Balding. With only the five runners heading to post, Probert dropped out Marcella in the early stages, keeping the mare restrained in last place as Takeover Target (80/1) took the field along at a steady gallop. The quintet only separated by a mere couple of lengths, Takeover Target still held a narrow advantage around the home bend, with most of the field now under pressure to make their challenges, quickly resulting in all five runners racing in a line across the track as they entered the final furlong. Rousted along but still apparently full of running, Marcella raced widest of all down the home straight, and despite stablemate Aragon Castle (6/4) posing a serious threat in the final 100 yards, Probert’s mount had just enough left in the tank to see out the race in cosy style; Hidden Pass (11/10F) finished last of all in a race where the field were separated by just over 5 lengths at the line. Always to be feared around the Roodee bends, Balding and Probert also recently claimed the City Plate Stakes (Listed) at Chester with Holguin!
Race 4 – Net World Sports Queensferry Stakes (Listed Race) (Class 1, 3yo+, 6f)
Previously unproven over the trip, everything clicked into place for classy colt Mitbaahy (10/1) in the feature race of the afternoon, the former Group 3 winner staying-on strongly late in the day to secure Listed glory by a length under Ray Dawson for Newmarket-based trainer Roger Varian. Towards rear division as Ehraz (5/1) led the six-runner field through the opening couple of furlongs, Mitbaahy kept company with recent course second-place finisher Fast Response (9/4F) in the main, Ray Dawson choosing to stick to the inside rail throughout. Travelling strongly out in front upon entering the home straight, Ehraz looked to be in prime position to seal a first Listed victory, kicking over a length clear of Mitbaahy who made strong ground up the inside with Fast Response as the bid for the four-timer fell short for Paws For Thought (4/1) out wide, the 5-year-old rapidly fading out of contention as the tempo increased. Gathering a head of steam having been switched to the centre of the track, Mitbaahy very quickly moved up to challenge the leader Ehraz upon passing the furlong marker, with Fast Response mirroring his move towards the fair rail. Running on fumes but game in attitude, Mitbaahy stayed-on well for Dawson’s urgings in the closing stages, always holding off Fast Response in second place and readily going on to score for the second time at Listed level. No stranger to top level success, Varian also scored at Group 1 level last Thursday with Al Husn!
Race 5 – Halliwell Jones Handicap (Class 3, 4yo+, 7 ½f)
A prolific money-spinner for many years but without a win since the 2021 City Plate Stakes at Chester, Safe Voyage (100/30) took his Roodee record to 2-2 in Race 5, sailing 2 ½ lengths clear in the home straight under Jason Hart and returning to form with a bang for John Quinn. Slowly away and pushed along through the opening furlong of the contest, Safe Voyage sat towards the rear of the field in the slipstream of Koy Koy (13/2), the lead occupied by G’Daay (10/1) and market leader On The River (15/8F) as the field made their way towards the home straight. Travelling smoothly and switching out wide to find daylight, Safe Voyage soon made strong headway upon entering the straight and readily powered into a slender lead with a furlong to go. Despite the best efforts of Koy Koy, G’Daay, and the staying-on Master Zoffany (11/2) to bridge the gap in the final furlong, the bird had already flown in the form of Safe Voyage, the 10-year-old veteran of the field in a different league as he sauntered home to record his 14th career victory. Enjoying another purple patch of late, John Quinn enjoyed two winners at Glorious Goodwood last week, including with Highfield Princess!
Race 6 – Jordan North DJ Set Ladies Day Handicap (Class 4, 3yo+, 1m 2 ½f)
Regularly mixing it between flat and jumps, First Impression (9/4F) means business on the flat this year, backing up a second-place finish at Ayr in May with a taking victory in Race 7 and providing both John Quinn and Jason Hart with a quickfire double. Always up with the pace from the get-go, First Impression pursued the keen travelling leader Flight Of Angels (11/2) through the first half of the final race, racing ahead of market rival Stately Home (5/2) in third place, the quintet completed by Ae Fond Kiss (12/1) and previous course winner Jean Baptiste towards the rear. Still on the bridle with three furlongs to race, the eye was drawn to First Impression from a long way out, the 6-year-old moving powerfully to challenge Flight Of Angels for the lead as the runners rounded the turn into the straight. Having seen off Flight Of Angels in a matter of strides, Hart said ‘go’ aboard First Impression, sending his mount clear by a couple of lengths coming past the furlong pole, and looking likely to stretch even further clear. With no challenge from behind threatening to overhaul his lead, First Impression powered home in the closing stages to a victory which never looked in much doubt; Stately Home stayed on best for second place ahead of Flight Of Angels in third. Another to thrive at Glorious Goodwood, Jason Hart was also aboard Big Evs and Highfield Princess for their victories!
Race report by Adam Perkins
THE NET WORLD SPORTS QUEENSFERRY STAKES (CLASS 1) (Listed)
Distance: 6f 17y | Prize: £50,000
THE HALLIWELL JONES HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 3)
Distance: 7f 127y | Prize: £25,000