Five things we learnt on Saturday: Track bias ruined Newmarket's big day

Sat 14 Oct 2017

Oliver Brett rounds up the action from the 'golden highway' at Newmarket to Finian's Oscar's successful debut over fences at Chepstow on Saturday.

Track bias issues cloud Newmarket's big day:

Dubai Future Champions Festival - Day Two - Newmarket Racecourse U S Navy Flag comes up the near-side rail at Newmarket on Saturday (PA)

After signs on Friday that jockeys were favouring the near-side rail, on Saturday they were seeking it like a drowning man hunting a lump of driftwood.

Drawn closest to the stands in the Zetland Stakes, Ryan Moore was ideally positioned to make most of the running and win on Kew Gardens.

In the Dewhurst, he was drawn poorly in stall one - but so sweetly did U S Navy Flag break that Moore was able to tack across in front of all his rivals to secure the rail early.

The trend continued. James Doyle made an exaggerated switch to take the rail aboard Cesarewitch runner-up London Prize. Silvestre de Sousa aboard gambled-on Cesarewitch hero Withhold did something similar, if more subtly.

Rufus King would have surely lost the Nursery without the rail - he was headed by Porth Swtan before PJ McDonald used the "golden highway" to fine effect.

Notable gamble landed in the Cesarewitch:

Newmarket Races - Dubai Future Champions Festival - Day Two

Before live racing on the Racing UK Mark Your Card programme, Nick Luck and John O'Connell were united behind the claims of Roger Charlton's four-year-old Withhold.

This horse had managed to beat the very talented London Prize on his last start for Charlie Hills a year ago before. Dropped back in trip and with cheekpieces removed, he finished third on his first start for Charlton at Newbury last month.

In the famous Cesarewitch on Saturday, he had everything in his favour.

The cheekpieces were re-applied and he was backed down from 12-1 on Monday - and 9-1 when the on-course layers put up their prices on the day - to start at a clear 5-1 favourite.

Silvestre de Sousa (pictured) settled the son of Champs Elysees up with the pace, and he had so much stamina his jockey was able to gently coax him towards the nearside rail, eventually crossing in front of his old nemesis London Prize to win in course-record time.

De Sousa has won this infernally difficult race three times and will next week be crowned champion jockey for the second time - it is remarkable that a jockey in possession of his CV virtually never rides a hotpot in a Group One race.

Two in Derby picture after Newmarket successes:

Dubai Future Champions Festival - Day Two - Newmarket Racecourse

Kew Gardens (pictured) and Ghaiyyath could conceivably clash in next year's Derby after winning their races at Newmarket on Saturday.

Aidan O'Brien said Kew Gardens, an easy winner of the Godolphin Flying Start Zetland Stakes, was an "uncomplicated, very good-natured, genuine, good-moving horse."

The trainer added: "I'd imagine he'll start in the Derby trialnext season and that's the type of horse we think he is - a classic mile-and-a-quarter, mile-and-a-half horse."

As for Ghaiyyath, the Dubawi colt won the Masar Godolphin Autumn Stakes comfortably despite William Buick conceding the rail position to runner-up Dream Today.

Trainer Charlie Appleby said: "Going forward, he is a horse that His Highness (Sheikh Mohammed) has a lot of faith in. He is in the Racing Post Trophy, but we might put him away for the year. Staying will be his forte. This horse will get a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half, no problem."

Teruntum Star defies rise to shine at York:

Teruntum Star took home a generous pot of £62,250 after winning the Coral Sprint Trophy at York under Kevin Stott for trainer Kevin Ryan.

The five-year-old had been due to contest the Ayr Gold Cup before its abandonment, having previously won off a mark of 91 in a 20-runner race at Ripon.

He took the 7lbs rise in the weights for that triumph in his stride and the trainer may look abroad for further options.

"We'll run him again before the end of the season, maybe try to find a race in France, then aim him at the big six-furlong handicaps next year," trainer Kevin Ryan said.

Race falls into Finian's lap on chase debut:

2017 Randox Health Grand National Festival - Grand National Day - Aintree

Over at Chepstow, jump racing aficionados had been looking forward to double Grade One-winning hurdler Finian's Oscar (pictured) making his debut over fences.

But the race itseld was something of a damp squib.

Not only did a mere three horses line up to take him on, but the only one with a realistic chance of beating him in the totequadpot Novices' Chase, Alcala, slipped up on the bend. Trainer Paul Nicholls later reported the horse was 'fine'.

Finian's Oscar, trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden by Bryan Cooper, had taken some time to show his appetite for the race.

But after Alcala suffered his misfortune there was nothing left for the odds-on shot to do except clear his obstacles and justify his starting price of 1-3.

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