Fanning puts pedal to the Metal in Richmond
Thursday 2 August 2012
1 Heavy Metal (J Fanning) 9-1
2 Master Of War (R Hughes) 3-1
3 Cay Verde (W Buick) 4-1
By Ashley Wishaw
Mark Johnston denied Richard Hannon a fifth successive victory in the Audi Richmond Stakes as Heavy Metal maintained the momentum of the Johnston stable this week.
The juvenile had won two of his first three career outings but having seemingly had his limitations exposed in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and the July Stakes at Newmarket, he was a 9-1 shot for this Group Two Test.
Heavy Metal was always towards the front end and although Hannon's Master Of War was closing in the last of the six furlongs, Joe Fanning's mount held on by half a length to give the rider his third win of the meeting and Johnston his fourth.
"He battled very well. He always does in every race he runs in and he's done well today. I thought if he ran in the first three today he'd have run well but he's really found his form," Fanning said.
Johnston is now heading towards his eighth Glorious Goodwood trainer's title and maintained that his stable is still not out of the doldrums.
"It's nice to hear people saying good things about us this week, but I can assure you the last six weeks have been hard," Johnston said. "Our strike-rate for firsts was four per cent and the strike-rate for lasts was 25 per cent. You start to wonder what you are doing wrong.
"Today he looked really well but we'll take one step at a time with him. We've been getting respiratory, foot and skin infections but if you are not in you cannot win."
Heavy Metal could now head to York for the Gimcrack Stakes although the Prix Morny in France is also an option.
"He was going so well at halfway that I thought I'd got the trip wrong again, because he did just that at Newmarket and didn't get home. It looks like six furlongs is his right trip. I think he was just one of my horses that wasn't right a few weeks ago.
Hannon said of the runner-up: "I'm still very happy with him and he probably wants seven furlongs as it was very soft when he won at Newbury last time. He's a bonny little horse and I suppose he'll go for the Gimcrack."