Kessaar keeps on best for Mill Reef success at Newbury

Sat 22 Sep 2018

Kessaar can now look forward to an outing at the top table after giving trainer John Gosden his first victory in the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury.

Having claimed Group Three honours in the Sirenia Stakes at Kempton last time out, the son of Kodiac eased fears over his ability to act on soft ground when showing an admirable attitude to land the six-furlong Group Two contest.

Looking a sitting duck to eventual second True Mason, the 100-30 shot bravely battled on under Frankie Dettori before crossing the line with two and three-quarter lengths in hand.

Gosden said: “I thought he rode a very good race. The second is a lovely horse, but this guy handled the ground. We were worried about the ground, but he did it well.

“If you hit the ridges wrong at Ripon you lose your rhythm and stride and the horse never got balanced (when sixth in Champion Two Yrs Old Trophy).

“He has won a Group Three last time and a Group Two this time, so we will have to go to a Group One now, which is the next step, but it’s a big step.

“The Criterium International could be next at Saint-Cloud. It use to be a mile, but they dropped it to seven, so we are all going to Paris.”

A drop back in both class and distance could be on the cards for the runner-up, according to trainer Karl Burke.

He said: “Ben (Curtis) said he loved the ground, travelled beautifully and relaxed in it. He didn’t want to go too soon. He came to win his race, he picked up but didn’t pick up well enough, then petered out in the last 100 yards.

“I half had it in my mind to back him up in the Middle Park, but I think it will be a similar story, that we would get outstayed. So maybe we will go to the Cornwallis.

“If it comes up slow a stiff five will be absolutely perfect for him.”

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