Musawaat delights Hills

News of the pick of the action from Newbury where newcomers Musawaat and Executive Force both impressed.

Musawaat rewarded trainer Charlie Hills' decision to take a gamble on running on softer than ideal conditions when surviving a stewards' inquiry to make a winning debut in the first division of the Thatcham Butchers EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes at Newbury.

Despite his pedigree suggesting he may fail to act on a slow surface the son of Equiano handled it well enough in the six-furlong event to get off the mark at the first time of asking.

After receiving plenty of cover early on the 6/1 shot burst through inside the final furlong before obliging by a head, despite showing signs of greenness when drifting left across the track together with runner-up Natajack.

Hills said: "I was just thinking this morning and questioning whether to run him or not. We have got to the stage where we needed to get him out on a racecourse for him to learn a bit more.

"He travelled really well. Paul (Hanagan) said there was quite a strong headwind. It helped that he got tucked in behind. Obviously he was a bit green but as a two-year-old first time out on that ground you can't blame him.

"I think better ground will help as I've not seen too many by Equiano that like soft ground. I think we will stick at six furlongs. We might look at the Rockingham at York or the Two-Year-Old Trophy at Redcar."

Executive Force paid a fraction of the 200,000 guineas laid out for him back after running out a convincing winner of division two.

Backed into 2/1 favourite to make a winning start in the six-furlong event the son of Sepoy, who holds an entry in the Dewhurst Stakes, justified his position at the head of the market when making good late headway to power to a two-and-a-quarter-length success.

Maureen Haggas, wife of winning trainer William Haggas, said: "He is a nice horse and William has always liked him.

"He was quite babyish in the preliminaries but once Pat Cosgrave got on him he was great. He is going to be a nice horse next year.

"He maybe just wants something easier next time. He is not as precocious as Rivet who is more of the finished article. He is more a work in progress."

Leah Freya put what has so far been a frustrating campaign behind her when showcasing her staying skills in the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Handicap.

Although without a victory to her name since landing the Apprentices' Derby at Epsom almost 12 months ago the five-year-old addressed that matter in the mile-and-a-half prize when giving Silvestre de Sousa another winner in his bid for a second successive champion jockeys' title.

Settled away from the early pace, which was cut out by the favourite Not Never, the Pat Phelan-trained daughter of Aussie Rules moved on past the long-time leader and Gawdawpalin on the run down to the final furlong before posting a two-and-a-half-length success.

Phelan said: "The wheels are back on the bike but ours have not been firing. I've been making excuses for her all year.

"She is so genuine and she has been working well at home, but has had a couple of little injuries. If you read the form book all her best form is going left-handed.

"That trip is an absolute minimum and the ground helped her. She is not sure to get in the Cesarewitch and there is the fact that it is right-handed.

"I am considering the Apprentices' Derby on the 25th (September) as she won that last year.

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"The owner is from Ireland and there is the November Handicap at Leopardstown. If the lorry was going that way it would be stupid not to have her on it."

Southdown Lad showed he was more than ready to roll on his first start from an enforced spell on the sidelines through injury when coming from last to first in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap.

Despite trainer William Knight fearing the three-year-old may be in need of the run he proved that was far from the case when making his first try over the mile-and-a-half trip a successful one.

After being anchored in last for much of the race, the 4-1 chance was produced to take up the running inside the final furlong before drawing away to claim a length and a quarter victory and complete a quickfire double for De Sousa.

Knight said: "We had him ready to run at Royal Ascot (King George V Handicap) but he got a quarter crack before it.

"It was an enforced break but it's done him the world of good. He doesn't have to have soft ground but he goes on it when others don't.

"As he was going a mile and a half for the first time today I told Silvestre to just drop him out the back. He has been quite convincing there and there is more to come.

"I thought he would come on a lot for today and I told the owners I thought he was a gallop short. If he is to have a good second half of the season it was important to get him out today.

"There is a three-year-old only handicap over a mile and a half at Newmarket in three weeks' time which he might go to. He has got good course form and seemed to appreciate the step up to a mile and a half."

Temple Church clung on grimly to claim top honours in the Haynes, Hanson & Clark Conditions Stakes.

Just four of the eight declared runners went to post and Hughie Morrison's charge was an 11/2 chance after shaping with plenty of promise when third on his course and distance debut last month.

Jimmy Fortune's mount was never too far off the pace, which was set by Galactic Prince, before Temple Church took over heading inside the final two furlongs.

Raheen House, the 11/8 favourite, soon emerged as the big danger, but despite hanging in the closing stages, Temple Church had just enough in the tank to hold him at bay by a neck.

The front pair pulled a long way clear, with Galactic Prince just beating the disappointing Contrast to third.

Morrison said: "He was bought by James Toller, who has always had an eye for a horse. He's always been a lovely horse and is from a family of great staying horses. That could be his game, too.

"Jimmy said he was very green. First time out I was surprised he handled the firm ground and he blew up a furlong out.

"He's done his job and we've probably done enough with him (for this season). I didn't want to embarrass myself and put him in the Racing Post Trophy, as he looks a big, backward horse."

He added: "I'm thrilled to have a nice horse on my hands for next year. I'd be doing the race a disservice if we didn't think of discussing a Derby trial next year.

"He's a nice horse to go to sleep on in November. I just hope that we can keep the dream alive over the winter."

Aclaim ran out an authoritative winner of the Dubai Duty Free Cup under a typically cool ride from Jamie Spencer.

The Martyn Meade-trained colt was sent off at 4-1 to follow up his Ascot triumph of a fortnight ago and just as he had done then, Spencer dropped his mount out last before making his move.

Aclaim moved stylishly towards the front end and picked up well in the last of seven furlongs to take the Listed prize by a length and three-quarters.

Fannaan was best of the rest in second, with Accession a close third.

The trainer's son and assistant, Freddie Meade, said: "We thought he'd come on for the last day, which gave him a bit of confidence, and he seemed to be thriving at home.

"Jamie said he got there a bit too early, but he did it well in the end. We always thought a lot of him. It was just a matter of finding the key to him and hopefully he can now show how good he is.

"We're running out of options and that possibly might be it for the year, unless something glaringly obvious pops up.

"Seven furlongs is probably his optimum and they just went that speed that suited him best. I think six is probably a touch too short, but we could stretch him back out over a mile."

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