Undeterred by the rail strikes up and down the country threatening to disrupt sporting events, over 16,000 racegoers descended upon the Roodee for the Matthew Clark Summer Festival, on a day filled with valuable races with big fields. The feature race of the day came at 3:40pm in the Chandon Garden Spritz Handicap Stakes over 7 furlongs, with ground conditions changing from Good (Good To Firm in places) to Good all over after Race 2 due to sporadic early rain showers.
Race 1 – Champagne Laurent-Perrier EBF Maiden Stakes (Class 4, 2yo, 5f)
For the second day in a row on the Roodee, the first race provided a surprise for punters as 12/1 shot Changeofmind, a racecourse debutant, ran out a game winner under Harrison Shaw for trainer Declan Carroll. Swift out of the starting stalls, Changeofmind soon darted across to the rail at the head of affairs alongside Erosion Risk and Felix Natalis. Also prominent behind the leaders, the hot 5/6 Fav Silencer was restrained by Dane O’Neill on the rail, keeping company with Danger Alert and Paddy Brunty for much of the contest. Coming to the home turn, Changeofmind still looked to be travelling well in the lead and soon stretched a couple of lengths clear of the chasing pack, with Silencer being brought away from the rail in an attempt to wear the leader down. However, this move proved to be in vain, as Changeofmind was game in front and soon cleared away up the run-in to hold off the late challenge of Silencer, ahead of the staying-on Erosion Risk and Paddy Brunty. Not only was Changeofmind brave throughout, but he also managed to break the course record for juvenile horses: a stout achievement for a relatively small yard at Declan Carroll’s. However, small yard or not, Declan Carroll also claimed Group 3 honours in the 2017 Cornwallis Stakes with Abel Handy over the same trip as today’s race. Could Changeofmind be a future star too? We hope so!
Race 2 – Pimms Sundowner Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 3yo+, 1m 4 ½f)
Eight runners went to post in what looked a very open second race, and so proved to be the case as 17/2 shot Cogital just did enough to hold on by a neck under Jordan Williams, with the finishers in behind eventually only covered by just over 10 lengths. Leading the way from the outset, the well-fancied 9/4F Greatness Awaits set a steady tempo under Silvestre De Sousa. Racing prominently in the chasing pack, Wynter Wildes kept company with The New Marwan and Cogital throughout much of the contest. Clinging on to the lead as the runners made their way home, Greatness Awaits began to hang to his left under De Sousa’s urgings, and eventually surrendered the advantage to Wynter Wildes on the outside under Rowan Scott. However, no sooner has Wynter Wildes snatched the lead, he had then lost it to Cogital 100 yards from the line and could never quite regain the upper hand, losing out by a narrow margin at the post. Of the three runners entered in the race by Dr Marwan Koukash, a name synonymous with the Roodee, his namesake The New Marwan finished closest in fifth place. An eye-catcher that may be worth taking out of the race for future reference could be Natchez Trace, who despite racing in rear throughout and encountering traffic problems in the final furlong, stayed on strongly to finish a creditable third place. With this success, Cogital had added another win to the CV of talented dual-purpose trainer Bernard Llewellyn, who coincidentally also part-owns Cogital. Well done, Bernard, and good luck for the rest of the season!
Race 3 – Grey Goose Essences Handicap Stakes (Class 3, 3yo+, 5f)
The third race of the day provided a welcome return to form for favourite backers as 5/4 shot Navello scored a shade cosily by ¾ of a length under Pat Cosgrave from early leader Glory Fighter. In a race where five of the six runners had won previously over track and trip, it was Night On Earth who provided early drama when having to be withdrawn early having got upset in the stalls. Soon afterwards, Glory Fighter shot out of the gates to the lead under Graham Lee, sitting a length in front of Gabrial The Devil and Bossipop, who in turn were a length ahead of back-marker Navello. Coming to two furlongs from home, Glory Fighter looked to be travelling best of the sextet, but challenges soon came from either side in Gabrial The Devil and Navello soon after rounding the turn. Under a determined ride from Pat Cosgrave, Navello quickly found a second gear down the centre of the track in the final furlong of the straight, and eventually wore down the long-time leader 100 yards from the line, pushed out to record his second course and distance win; Gabrial The Devil and Bossipop eventually faded away having been prominent throughout. In what already looks to be a stellar season for trainer George Boughey, not only did he train two winners at Royal Ascot in June (Navello also ran well), but he is also a newly crowned Classic-winning trainer having sent out Cachet to win the Qipco 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket, having previously landed the Nell Gwyn Stakes at the same course. We wish George the best of luck for the remainder of the season!
Race 4 – Chandon Garden Spritz Handicap Stakes (Class 2, 3yo, 7f)
Pat Cosgrave and George Boughey were at the double in race four as the strong headway made by Evocative Spark in the final 100 yards proved decisive, staying on to win by ¾ of a length at 16/5. A race full of bad luck for Hebrides started after leaving the stalls when the sharp turn of foot shown by Roman Dragon from a wide stall left the 5/4 Fav slightly hampered and was eventually shuffled back to fifth place in the early stages. Prominent behind Roman Dragon were Giewont and Evocative Spark, ahead of Dig Two and Absolute Ruler; John The Baptist trailed after breaking slowly. Rounding the home bend, Silvestre De Sousa tried to steal first run on the field aboard Roman Dragon and soon put a couple of lengths between himself and the chasing pack when kicking for home early. Still suffering having been hampered, Hebrides desperately sought racing room in the inside but eventually had to be pulled away from the rail by Franny Norton to find the gaps. Unfortunately for Hebrides, this move proved too late, as Evocative Spark flew down the centre of the track to record a snug victory, just as Hebrides began to make late headway having finally found racing room. As unfortunate as the SP Fav was not to find the gaps at the right time, a well-executed ride from Pat Cosgrave on the winner was still more than worthy of note, having been pushing the winner for two furlongs. In a racing career spanning over 20 years, Pat Cosgrave has had more notable success in other countries in recent times, having won races such as the Caulfield Cup in Australia and the 1,000 Guineas in Meydan, UAE. Congratulations on another fine winning ride, Pat!
Race 5 – Havana Club Cuban Spiced Novice Stakes (GBB Race) (Class 4, 3yo+, 7 ½f)
Another winning favourite came in the fifth race of the day when Zainalarab succeeded despite an undesirable starting position in Stall 10, prevailing by 1 ¼ lengths at odds of 9/4. Another horse to get upset in the stalls, Menelaus became the latest horse to be withdrawn at the start but after the starter waved the flag, the well-named Candy Warhol soon made the early running under Phil Dennis. In close proximity to the leader, Testing Faith kept company with Jazz Samba, while the SP Fav Zainalarab lurked in rear having been unable to get a prominent position. Mid-division was also well-stocked throughout the contest with prominent market principal Carlton And Co racing in-behind the leading pack alongside Hoots And Toots. Soon after passing the 3f marker, Candy Warhol still led the way but faced various challenges in-behind but with the majority waiting to jostle for position in the home straight, he still looked tough to peg back. However, as the runners made their way into the straight, Zainalarab and Carlton And Co began to make their moves having been kept behind a wall of horses for much of the race. Within 100 yards of the winning line, Dane O’Neill sent Zainalarab flying down the centre of the track on the outside of Testing Faith and Candy Warhol (eventual second and third place), eventually staying on best to win in impressive fashion for trainer Roger Varian. Based in Newmarket, Varian has already amassed an enviable number of victories in top races in a relatively short career, including with Group 1 glory in the 2021 Prix Vermeille at Longchamp with Teona. It certainly looks like Zainalarab could be another smart sort for the yard!
Race 6 – Budweiser King Of Beer Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 4yo+, 5f)
More joy for favourite backers and more joy for the Declan Carroll/Harrison Shaw combination came in the penultimate race on the card as the well-backed 11/4 jolly King Of Tonga ran out a smooth winner by 1 ½ lengths from Leodis Dream. Always prominent behind the leader and six-time course winner Powerallied, King Of Tonga raced alongside Leodis Dream throughout, a couple of lengths ahead of Good Luck Fox and Jack The Truth in mid-division during the early stages of the sprint. A little tapped for toe, the veteran Powerallied eventually forfeited the lead to Leodis Dream rounding the final bend, but both were soon overtaken by King Of Tonga who unleashed a powerful surge down the centre of the track in the final furlong, quickly extending away from his opposition in style. Of those in-behind the eventual winner, very few got into the race, as can be the case in sprints on the Roodee if being unable to grab a prominent early position. However, one making late gains into third place was Second Collection under Franny Norton and may be worth keeping an eye on next time, having raced towards the rear of midfield for much of the contest. A rare double on the day for Harrison Shaw, the young jockey has now amassed 131 winners in a relatively short riding career of around 5 years. Well done, Harrison, and may the lucky streak continue!
Race 7 – Mud House Wines Summer Adventure Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 4yo+, 2m)
A marathon over 2 miles brought the Matthew Clark Summer Festival to a close and it was won very impressively by talented dual-purpose gelding Hydroplane at 9/2 under Silvestre De Sousa for former Chester Cup-winning trainer Ian Williams. Previous course winner Emiyn led the way under treble-seeking Harrison Shaw in the early sectionals, with Baileys Derbyday and Hydroplane close-up in behind, ahead of the remaining five opponents. Not content with sitting in second place, De Sousa took Hydroplane to the lead after a couple of furlongs and remained there throughout, with Baileys Derbyday, Emiyn, and Winklevi alternating positions in the vanguard. With just under three furlongs left to race, De Sousa upped the ante on the leader and his mount responded well, soon quickening over two lengths clear of Emiyn as they made their way into the home straight. With a furlong to go, Hydroplane kicked into overdrive and flew away from the opposition with ease, eventually recording a 6-length victory ahead of the tiring Emiyn and the staying-on Fandabidozi; the 13/8F Baileys Derbyday did not have the pace to quicken and faded into fourth place. Another trainer known for his dual-purpose abilities, Ian Williams has achieved great success under both codes over the years, including winning the Chester Cup in 2008 and 2018, as well as the Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle and Elite Hurdle with London Prize in 2017; another dual-purpose performer!
Race report by Adam Perkins
The Champagne Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé EBF Maiden Stakes (Class 4, 2yo)
Distance: 5f 15y | Prize: £12,597
The Havana Club Cuban Spiced Novice Stakes (Class 4, 3yo+)
Distance: 7f 127y | Prize: £12,453
The Budweiser King of Beers Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 4yo+)
Distance: 5f 15y | Prize: £11,400