Conqueress rules at Lingfield
A review of Wednesday's action at Lingfield, where Conqueress emerged victorious for Deva Racing.
Tom Dascombe: Lingfield winner
While winning next year's Grand National with Subtle Grey remains a long-term dream for owners Deva Racing, the chance of enjoying success at a higher level on the Flat could also materialise following Conqueress' victory at Lingfield.
Having finished second on three of her previous four starts, the Tom Dascombe-trained 5-4 favourite pulled out all the stops on her return to seven furlongs to deny Prufrock by a short head in the second division of the Rockinghorse Children's Charity EBF Median Auction Maiden Fillies' Stakes.
Mike Foster, racing manager for the winning syndicate, said: "We've always had faith with her and we knew she was a nice horse, she has just been a bit unlucky.
"It's nice to win one of those bonus races with her. She will go on holiday now but will be a really nice three-year-old."
On their potential Grand National runner, Foster added: "We've got some really nice horses with Donald McCain.
"We've got a horse called Subtle Grey, who ran in this year's Midlands National as a novice.
"We brought him for the Grand National and he will be aimed at the race.
"He has just been moved into Red Rum's old box so there is a bit of pressure on him."
Daniel Muscutt struck on his first ride since tasting victory at the China Equine Cultural Festival in Inner Mongolia when he guided the Pat Chamings-trained Pandar (5-1) to a four-length win in the Ladbrokes Selling Stakes.
The winning rider said of his visit to China: "It was brilliant. I had four rides out there and was lucky to get the opportunity go over there. I would jump at the opportunity to go again.
"I only got off the flight on Tuesday so it was good to get going straight away again."
Of Pandar, the jockey added: "He is a horse that when he turns up has a nice bit of ability about him, but he needs everything to go his way."
Nothing satisfies owner Alan Pickering more than watching his silks carried to victory at the Surrey track and the Ed Vaughan-trained Staintondale Lass (11-4) gave him plenty to smile about when she followed up her win at Bath last month in the Garhigh Southern Ltd Handicap.
Pickering said: "For me, all roads lead to Lingfield and Good Friday. It is the highlight of the racing year.
"She (Staintondale Lass) has got two chances on Good Friday – the sprint or the fillies' and mares' race."
"She will go up quite a bit (in the weights), I guess. She's in on Saturday at Newmarket and Windsor and she will tell Ed whether she wants to put her feet up or go on a bit longer."
Hidden Steps is expected to come into her own over trips in excess of a mile, but the Andrew Balding-trained two-year-old showed she was ready to go at the first time of asking when she claimed the opening division of the seven-furlong maiden.
Nathaniel Barnett, racing manager for owners Kingsclere Racing Club, said: "She was impressive, but I don't necessarily think it was the strongest of maidens.
"She looked very green in the early stages but once the penny dropped, Oisin (Murphy) always looked like he was going to get there.
"Hopefully she will have one more run this year. She will definitely go racing over a mile plus next year."
It was also a good day for trainer Natalie Lloyd-Beavis, who claimed only her second winner of the year when Roly Tricks (11-2) hit the target in the Danny Traynor Memorial Handicap.
Title-chasing jockey Jim Crowley fleetingly closed the gap on Silvestre de Sousa in the Stobart Flat jockeys' championship with victory in the opening Ryan Vehicles Nursery Handicap aboard Madam Prancealot (6-1).
De Sousa did, however, later restore parity when Masterson (11-4 favourite) delivered in the concluding Racing Welfare Handicap.