Sir Dragonet Graduates with honours in the MBNA Chester Vase classic trial
“It was a fact-finding mission, we can learn a lot here,” said Derek Smith following an impressive win by Sir Dragonet in the MBNA Chester Vase, the feature race on City Day, opening the Boodles May Festival Meeting. The handsome Camelot colt powered away from the field down the centre of the track to win impressively by eight lengths from stablemate Norway.
The 13/2 chance was immature in the race preliminaries and connections confirmed this. Smith added: “That was a lovely surprise, he’s a big baby at home, but it’s all there, he came alive. He was straightforward and quickened when asked. He needed the race for his education.”
Successful jockey Donnacha O’Brien explained: “He was quite green, so I let him follow. I could tell three or four out that I was going to win. He’s got a fair pedigree and bends at the knee; the ground wouldn’t have been a problem for him.”
The traditional opener of the three-day meeting, the Stellar Group Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes resulted in a win for Great Dame, sent off at 7/2. Jockey Daniel Tudhope adopted front running tactics and maintained a position against the inside rail having been drawn from stall three and was tracked by the Dascombe entry Iva Reflection to win by half a length. Successful trainer David O’Meara said: “Her sister won on soft ground and the low draw gave her a handy position. She pricked her ears in front, so she’s done it easy enough and may go to York, but Ascot is on the agenda at this time of year.”
“They know how to fight, she’s by Frankel,” said jockey Robert Havlin in the winners’ enclosure. Havlin was referring to Mehdaayih, sent off the 3/1 favourite and winner of the Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks (for the Robert Sangster Memorial Cup) by a run-away four and a half lengths from Manuela De Vega. “She was a little bit sluggish away. I managed to get her out before the turn, and she surprised me. She really liked the ground. We wanted to find out what level she’s at,” added Havlin.
The Boodles Diamond Handicap Stakes provided Tudhope and O’Meara with a quick double when 9/2 chance Leodis Dream galloped clear to win by half a length. “She got to the front early enough and surprised us, she’s getting better. We didn’t realise she was that good because she idled in front and lugged to the right the whole way round,” explained O’Meara.
“He did everything right at Windsor. This is a good step-up for her today and the ground suited him,” said jockey Henry Bentley after dismounting from the aptly named Future Investment, returned at 11/2 in the Sportspesa Maiden Stakes. Franny Norton was aboard the pace setter, Bo Samraan and was only passed in the final strides by the winner to record a winning margin of one and a half lengths.
Lihou, sent off at 8/1, emerged from a line of three horses entering the straight, to land the Homeserve Handicap Stakes for the long-standing partnership of jockey John Egan and trainer Dave Evans by half a length from Cosmic Law. “He ran well a sales race last year and he probably had too many races and needed a break. The rain today was ideal, he a good draw and a good jockey. The race worked out,” said Evans.
Racing concluded with the HR Owen Maserati Handicap Stakes which evolved into an exciting finish in front of the stands with Gossiping, an 8/1 chance getting up on the line to win by a neck. “He’s a brilliant little horse, very tough. He reared at the start, but they went no real gallop, so I had to get rocking and rolling. He’s got a big heart and we had no fears about the ground; he’s very versatile,” explained jockey Shane Kelly.
An enthusiastic crowd of 15473 racegoers attended the fixture and the Boodles May Festival meeting continues tomorrow, Thursday, 9 May when it is Ladies Day.