Sandown support races: Francesco Clemente advances Ascot claims

Thu 19 May 2022

Francesco Clemente backed up his win in the Wood Ditton with a facile success in the Coral Proud Supporter Of Sandown Park British EBF Novice Stakes.

With Subastar a notable non runner, the John and Thady Gosden-trained son on Dubawi made light work of his four opponents and his 2-9 odds over the mile-and-a-quarter trip, sailing to a smooth length-and-a-half victory under Frankie Dettori, who barely had him off the bridle.

Royal Ascot could well be on the agenda for the Peter Brant-owned colt, who has some lofty entries, including the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Gosden senior said: “He is a big boy and has done a lot of growing. He is still learning about life and has a big frame to fill out. He stepped up from the Wood Ditton and a couple of older horses made him race there. They haven’t gone much of a pace and Frankie says he is still a little bit clueless.

“We will see where we go and make plans. He is out of novices now.

“We were planning to run a bit earlier, but Frankie says he is still very green. It turned into a bit of a dash but he is learning all the time.”

He added: “Frankie taught him a lot today. We will obviously be happy over a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half. The family strongly says a mile and a half on the dam’s side.”

When asked about the possibility of the King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot potentially being a a big step up for Francesco Clemente next time, Gosden added: “Not necessarily. It is early. We’ll take one step at a time. We’ll see how the race shapes up, see how the horse is over the next few days and take it from there.

“He got put in some bold stuff, some big races, but he is a big frame of a horse and still needs to fill out a bit more. I like him, but he is very immature and he didn’t race at two. We need to take normal steps not huge ones.”

The Queen's colours were carried to victory by the powerful Duty Bound, a homebred son of Kingman, who looked better the further he went in the Coral 'Beaten-By-A-Length' Free Bet Handicap Stakes.

The three-year-old had shown plenty of promise on his seasonal return when upped to an extended mile and three furlongs at Haydock, but David Probert's mount showed plenty more when taking the mile-and-three-quarter event by a length and a quarter from Moonlit Warrior.

Trainer Andrew Balding said: "It was really good. He is horse who is learning on the job and he has improved with every run, really.

"This step up in trip has helped him. He is in the handicap system and we will work our way through that for the time being."

Rod Millman is reluctant to step Cuban Mistress up in class next time despite showing a marked improvement from her first run at Salisbury to take the Watch Racing Online Free With Coral EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes.

Ross Coakley’s mount, who had finished sixth of nine in a minor event on debut, was a different proposition on her Esher assignment.

The daughter of Havana Grey (18-1) broke smartly from stall six and got across to the far rail, and held on to win by a neck from Beautiful Aisling, who showed plenty of promise on debut.

Coakley said: “She sharpened from her first run and she was very quick away from the gates. Being drawn six, it allowed me to tack across. She travelled, showed plenty of speed and toughed it out well.

“She has plenty of good attributes. The first day I jumped well and the winner came around me and she got a bit crowded and a bit timid. Salisbury is a tricky track first time – you are running downhill and things happen very quickly. But she learned a lot from that and her experienced showed.

“I’ve ridden her a few times at home and she is a filly I have always liked. She is by a sire who is making waves.”

Millman added: “I am not sure about Royal Ascot. She’d be thereabouts, as I know she is a good filly. But there are some good bonus races to go for later on and I think we’ll keep her sights lower for the time being.”

Marco Botti's string have come out of a lean patch and War Horse (7-2) struck for the Newmarket handler in the Coral Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap Stakes.

Andrea Atzeni's mount improved for the first-time cheekpieces to gain the second win of his career in the mile-and-a-quarter event, wearing down Paradias, who was demoted to third after causing interference to Nolton Cross.

Owned by American Earl Mack, the Sea The Stars gelding had a length to spare at the finish.

"The cheekpieces were the trick. He hit the front and thinks he does enough and idles a little bit. The cheekpieces kept him focussed on his job and while the pace was moderate, which didn't really suit him, it was job done and we have to be pleased," Botti said.

"Andrea said he will gain confidence and progress from this. He is still an unexposed type and hopefully there is more to come from him. A bigger field would suit him.

"He is a horse who will mature through the season and we will look for a Class 2 handicap for him now."

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