Miller’s time for Henderson
Monday 8 October 2012
Nicky Henderson's huge string of National Hunt horses are getting ready to swing into action and he will take heart from the victory of Lieutenant Miller in the Phil Bull Trophy Conditions Stakes at Pontefract.
The six-year-old had never run on the Flat before but had won twice over hurdles last season. Fit from a summer jumping campaign, Tom Queally's mount was expected to struggle against the likes of last year's November Handicap winner Zuider Zee and Darley Sun, the 2009 Cesarewitch hero.
Zuider Zee was sent off the 4-11 favourite to give John Gosden another winner but made hard work of getting to Petaluma before being worn down close home by what is believed to be Henderson's first ever runner at the track. Lieutenant Miller was sent off at 11-1 and prevailed by a short head.
Rab Havlin picked up a four-day suspension (October 22-25) for his use of the whip on the runner-up.
"He dug deep. Mr Henderson was quietly hopeful as there wasn't much strength in depth to the race. He handled the ground and it's nice to have a winner on my birthday," said Queally, who was celebrating his 28th birthday.
Henderson's representative Richard Nicholas said: "It's my first ever visit here and I think it could be the first runner the boss has had here. There were a few with pretty high ratings but we thought they might be out of form so it looked a nice opportunity."
Queally did not have to work as hard on Hughie Morrison's Abundantly who looked way ahead of the handicapper in the Laurie Baker 60th Birthday Handicap.
William Knight's Fire Ship (2-1 favourite) could be a decent handicapper next season after defying an 8lb rise in the £40 totepool Package Handicap. He landed a touch at Windsor and while Eddie Ahern had to get fairly vigorous, he ended up beating Ardmay by a cosy three-quarters of a length.
Knight's father, Martin, said:" He loves the ground and did it well. William is at the sales looking for new horses and as I live in Cumbria he asked me to come. He was confident he'd run a big race but he was worried that the ground would dry up too much. Thankfully the fog kept the moisture in."
Godolphin's Restraint Of Trade won like his 4-9 odds suggested he would in the British Stallion Studs Supporting British Racing EBF Maiden, while Saeed bin Suroor's A'Juba still looked green despite winning the Buy Your 2013 Annual Badge Today Maiden on his fourth start.