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Dandalla produces scintillating performance to destroy rivals in Albany Stakes

Fri 19 Jun 2020

Karl Burke’s Dandalla produced a dazzling display to turn the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot into a procession.

Ben Curtis, who was the leading jockey on the all-weather through the winter and has been in red-hot form since the resumption of racing, always looked to have matters under control.

Racing on the near-side of the group, the Newcastle winner travelled smoothly into contention as Roger Varian’s Undertake moved to take up the running from Wesley Ward’s Flying Aletha.

Sent off at 13-2 following heavy market support before the race, Dandalla looked a cut above as she moved alongside and in a matter of strides she put the race to bed, streaking clear to win decisively.

Setarhe, the 11-4 favourite following a late gamble, ran the first half of the race on the far side of runners and was one of the first off the bridle before Andrea Atzeni switched flanks. She ran on to claim second, pipping Mother Earth, but was six lengths adrift.

Bookmakers were undecided about the winner’s claims for next year’s 1000 Guineas, with quotes ranging from 16-1 to 25s.

Burke said: "She's more precocious than Laurens - Laurens hadn't even stepped foot on the track by June of her two-year-old career. Laurens had a high cruising speed, but this filly has a great turn of foot and how far she stays now is going to be the key.

"We knew she had a real engine and knew we'd been underrated a little bit coming here today. It's obviously very difficult to evaluate the form when horses are coming here after only one run, but she's always shown plenty of toe.

"My daughter Lucy rides her 90 per cent of the time and she actually came in one day a good few months ago now and said 'I hate to say it, but this filly really reminds me of Laurens'. The turn of foot she showed today, I've seen that many times on the gallops.

"We had to persuade Nick Bradley to buy 50 per cent of her earlier in the year (trainer's wife Elaine retains a share). My other daughter Kelly did the deal with him and assured him she was a good one."

On future plans, he added: "It was always the plan to run at Newcastle and then here. I'll have to sit down with Nick and get the programme book out.

"Races like the Prix Morny wouldn't be out of the question - we'll certainly be looking at Group One races anyway."

Curtis said: "Karl's daughter Lucy rides her every day and I remember her coming down from the gallop and mentioning her in the same sentence as Laurens. When she said that, it give me all the hope in the world. "She went to the racetrack the first day and did what she did and we knew she'd improve a ton. Everything went perfect today and she's demolished them.

"It's a surreal feeling. I knew when we accelerated that nothing would be able to pick up the way I did. I knew in the last furlong we were out on our own - it was a great performance."

He added: "Having a Royal Ascot winner is on every jockey's to-do list. I've been coming down here for a while now without really getting involved, to finally have a winner is an unbelievable feeling - crowd or no crowd.

"I'm in racing to ride winners and ride big winners. I've had two Group Three winners and now a Royal Ascot winner - I'm going to go in and pinch myself in a second."

THE LIR JET FLIES HOME TO COLLAR AMERICAN-RAIDER

The Lir Jet backed up his scintillating debut when collaring American raider Golden Pal in the final strides of the Norfolk Stakes.

Michael Bell’s juvenile broke the all-age track record on his debut at Yarmouth and was subsequently bought by Qatar Racing.

He appeared to face an uphill battle entering the final furlong, however, as Wesley Ward looked sure to add to his Royal Ascot tally, as Golden Pal had broken smartly under Andrea Atzeni and soon had most of the field in trouble.

The Lir Jet was on the outside of the favourite Eye Of Heaven, but Frankie Dettori looked in trouble at halfway on the market leader and Oisin Murphy’s mount soon emerged as the only danger to Golden Pal.

Murphy began to chase down the leader, but it was only in the last 100 yards that The Lir Jet (9-2) began to make ground hand over fist, eventually getting up by a neck. Bell said: "He's one of the fastest two-year-olds I've had - he's all speed.

"During the race I was a bit worried when the leader went so far clear, but Oisin (Murphy) obviously thought he had it under control and the horse battled.

"He's a very inexperienced horse. He's only run the once and has never really had to dig in before because when he won (at Yarmouth) he won on the bridle. He's learnt how to race today and I think you'll see a better performance next time, hopefully.

"My son found him and then Sheikh Fahad was watching him on the telly at Yarmouth. He asked if he was for sale and the rest is history."

He added: "He's won a Group Two now, so if he runs in another Group Two he'd carry a penalty. I'd be inclined to aim him at something like the Prix Morny, but we'll speak to Sheikh Fahad and David Redvers and come up with a plan.

"The Nunthorpe would be another option, but all the balls will go up in the air. When you start winning Group races as a two-year-old you're looking at stallion potential, so there's all sorts of things that need to be considered, but if Battaash was to go for the Nunthorpe I'd say he should probably be avoided.

"The Commonwealth Cup would be an obvious target for next year, when the crowds will be here."

He added: "It's brilliant for us to have a winner for a high-profile owner. Every trainer needs good horses and big winners, especially for a big operation like Qatar."

Nick Bell said: "When you buy speed you hope they will be an Ascot two-year-old and he came with a good reputation from Ireland. I sourced him from Robson Aguiar who does very well from buying cheap horses.

"He said he was good and he won at Yarmouth and came and did what he did today. It was very sporting of him (Sheikh Fahad) to buy him as if it didn't work out it would have looked like money down the drain, but he is now going to have a stallion to stand at Tweenhills and that is great."

"HE'S A MACHINE" - ART POWER BOLTS UP ON HANDICAP DEBUT

Art Power looked the proverbial Group horse in a handicap when routing a big field in the Palace Of Holyroodhouse Handicap at Royal Ascot.

Heavily supported, the grey, trained in North Yorkshire by Tim Easterby, was sent off the 6-4 favourite despite facing 20 largely unexposed rivals.

A winner at York by five lengths at the end of last season, he reappeared at Newcastle on the day racing resumed with another impressive display, leaving connections with a decision to make.

He had the option of taking on Group One rivals in the Commonwealth Cup over six furlongs, but given his mark was left alone following his Newcastle romp, taking on handicappers over five appealed more and the right call was made.

Former champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa bounced the King Power Racing-owned colt out smartly and he was always towards the head of affairs before he began to pull clear with two furlongs to run.

John Quinn’s Keep Busy weaved through to claim second, three and a half lengths away, but in truth the first running of this race was all about one horse.

Betfair introduced the winner into the betting for the Nunthorpe at 14-1.

William Easterby, assistant to his father, said: "He's a really nice horse. It was (King Power racing manager) Alistair Donald's decision which race he ran in and it's worked out well.

"We've always liked him. We took our time with him last year and it's seems to have paid off.

"I think that will be the end of his handicap days. He won over six furlongs last time, so he could run other either five or six next time - we'll just see what there is.

"This was the first target. It's great to get a winner at Royal Ascot for the King Power team. We'll just see how he is and go from there.

"I don't think dad will want to over-face him too soon, but races like that (Nunthorpe) and the Abbaye could be of interest to him."

Speaking from home, Tim Easterby said: "He's a machine. To me it was pretty obvious the race he should run in. He's still an inexperienced horse and he could do with some more experience before taking on those big guns.

"We had in our minds after Newcastle this race was the race for him. Watching the build up to the race on TV I was getting very nervous, thinking 'I wish they'd talk about another horse!'.

"He's just a natural. He doesn't pull or anything - he just does everything right. He reminds of Pipalong in that he's a very clean-winded horse and a complete natural."

Asked whether a tilt at the Nunthorpe could be on the agenda later in the year, Easterby added: "Definitely. Whether we go to Goodwood or somewhere else first, we'll wait and see.

"He might meet him (Battaash), but I'm not too worried actually. He (Art Power) is just a very good horse with no issues - I'm delighted to have him."

De Sousa said: "He's a very talented horse. He won at Newcastle, nothing could give me a lead there and we decided to go for this race because we thought he had a few pounds in hand.

"I went out there hoping to get a lead, but he was so quick from the gates nothing could give me a lead. I just rode a race from the front and he's a horse with two gears - quick and quicker!

"I don't think we'll see him in a handicap again, but he's better than a handicapper - he's a horse I think a lot of and I think he's better than a Listed horse.

"He's still a baby. I would like to keep him at five furlongs this year and step him up to six next year when he grows up."

SANTIAGO LANDS QUEEN'S VASE FOR O'BRIEN

Santiago produced an improved display to give Aidan O’Brien a seventh victory in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot.

The Ballydoyle handler saddled two runners in a bid to add to his previous triumphs in the Group Two feature, with Ryan Moore partnering Santiago and Frankie Dettori aboard Nobel Prize.

The pair raced in unison for much of the contest and travelled kindly into the home straight, with 100-30 chance Santiago – not seen since landing a Listowel maiden in September – covered up in behind the leaders.

Once switched wide by Moore, the son of Authorized quickened smartly to grab the lead and put the race to bed with relative ease.

Berkshire Royal attempted to close the gap racing inside the final furlong, but Santiago never looked in any real danger of being reeled in and passed the post two and three-quarter lengths to the good.

Al Dabaran was over eight lengths further back in third.

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