New Caledonia conquers Ascot

News of the pick of the action from Ascot where New Caledonia proved an appropriately-named winner for Mark Johnston.

New Caledonia proved an appropriately-named winner of the Appletiser Handicap at Ascot for the Mark Johnston yard, bagging the feature in the style of a horse that can go places next season.

Under Ted Durcan, the 12-1 winner returned from an enforced absence to dictate affairs and capitalize on a bunch of trouble that followed heavily-backed 15-8 favourite Stargazer from the turn in.

The winner stretched out willingly to trump Danehill Kodiak and Dal Harraild to make up for the time spent resting in his box after a freak accident at his trainer's Kingsley House stables three months ago.

In turn he was adding to the stable's victories elsewhere at Haydock and Kempton.

Johnston's son and assistant Charlie said: "He pulled out of his box when another horse tried to bite him. He kicked out and caught the corner of the box door and put a huge hole in his backside.

"It wasn't career threatening, we just had to be patient and allow it to heal."

Before rushing to catch a 6pm flight to saddle runners in Turkey tomorrow, Johnston added: "He's relished the step up in trip and there is a strong case to keep him as a four-year-old as he's such an exciting prospect for next year.

"Dad's in Germany, I'm off to Veliefendi and we'll have runners at York tomorrow. It's all go for family Johnston."

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One for the notebook is Stargazer, who endured a nightmare passage that began when he was squeezed out rounding the home bend. After that, Ryan Moore met trouble wherever he went. Whether he would have beaten the impressive winner is pure conjecture, but with a clear run he would have gone close.

The field for the Sodexo British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes looked a strong one and that augurs well for the future of Frontispiece, who prevailed in a pulsating finish with four horses separated by less than half a length.

With a quarter mile to travel Moore's mount looked unlikely to be involved, but the jockey kept working away without giving his partner a hard time to get up in the final stride, pipping Make Time and Muhajjal by a nose and a head. Breathing down their necks in fourth was Fortune Of War.

Sir Michael Stoute was not present but John Warren, racing manager to the Queen, said: "I was about to board a flight and tried to watch the race online only for the picture to freeze. At the time it looked as if he was running a nice race but couldn't win. So it was a really pleasant surprise when my son Jake called and said 'what a gritty performance'."

Warren expects the 7-1 winner to return to the track before the end of the season, but sees him as a colt for the future.

Of the son of Shamardal, he added: "Of the Queen's crop he was well up there and we hoped he'd be very decent. He's not the finished article, and obviously there will be improvement in him. We are hopeful he's a colt with a future and we are looking towards next year."

Dutch Law had earlier taken the Albert Bartlett Handicap for Hughie Morrison and apprentice Charlie Bennett. The Raymond Tooth-owned gelding scored by half a length and three-quarters of a length from Firmament and Von Blucher.

Morrison explained that the patience of Tooth had been rewarded, saying: "He is one of Raymond's home-breds that had niggling problems that meant we had to look after him. He's had nine races, and improved with every outing.

"When Pat Smullen rode him he came back and said he gave him the feel of a Group horse. And former jockey Corey Adamson deserves a lot of the credit as he rides him all the time at home.

"It's great to see the owner's patience rewarded and I suspect we shall come back here for a similar race."

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