Sea storms to Haydock triumph
Sea Of Grace gained a first win for William Haggas and set herself up for some loftier targets in the autumn with a straightforward success in the Betfred TV/EBF Stallions Dick Hern Stakes at Haydock.
A Group Three winner as a juvenile for John Oxx last season, she was second in the French Guineas before finishing fourth in the Falmouth at Newmarket.
Dropped markedly in class for this Listed assignment, Andrea Atzeni had her settled at the rear of the field but with two furlongs to run she still had plenty of ground to make up on Lincoln Rocks.
It did not take her long to pick up the admirable runner up, though, and she scooted four and a half lengths clear as the 8-11 favourite.
A step back in class now awaits, but such an easy win will have done wonders for her confidence.
Atzeni said: "She was entitled to do that, really, as she was down in grade.
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"She really enjoys that (soft) ground. That the second time I've ridden her and she was much more relaxed this time.
"It was a bit like a piece of work, really. She settled well and picked them up no bother.
"You need them to settle in that ground, it makes it so much easier.
"That will set her up for some nice races in the autumn but she needs that ground."
Haggas was thrilled to see Sea Of Grace return to winning form and is now planning to step back up in class with the daughter of Born To Sea before the end of the season.
He said: "It was terrific. She has had some racing on ground that doesn't suit her, but she was in really good form and it has been pouring with rain so I was very keen to run her.
"I know it is a retrograde step going to a Listed race, but I was very keen to get her on that ground and that should do her the power of good. It was just a morale booster.
"She is a lovely filly and that was really good today. It was a smooth win on her ground.
"I want to give her a try over further as I'm sure she needs it. We will look at some nice races in the autumn.
"She is in the Blandford Stakes which is a Group Two at the Curragh and she will also be put in the Prix de l'Opera. "Frankel's stallion career has not really reached the heights anticipated since his blockbusting start, but Frankuus (8-1) gave it a welcome boost when winning the Group Three Rose of Lancaster.A winner on debut for Mark Johnston last season, he also landed a French Group Three as a juvenile and was tried in Derby trials earlier in this campaign.Frankuus was not up to that level but showed signs of returning to form last time out and made every yard of the running for Joe Fanning."I thought he was a little bit stuck between two stools in that he wasn't quite top class, but he was too high for handicaps," said Johnston."I will have to go back and think about what to do next, but it was nice to get another Group win out of him because it's been frustrating for his owners."I won this with Jukebox Jury (Group One winner) when he was three and if he achieves what he went on to we'll be happy."El Cap eventually ran out a decisive winner of the Betfred Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry Handicap.Sir Michael Stoute's three-year-old would have been an unlucky loser as he encountered traffic problems, but he eventually got out and won with a ton in hand."He was travelling all over them but I just needed room," said jockey Ted Durcan."He's by Speightstown so I suppose there was a question about the ground but he handled it fine."He could even be better on a nice surface."Russian Realm (10-1) has looked a dangerously well handicapped horse for some time and it finally came together in the Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Handicap.Paul Midgley's sprinter was 10lb below his last winning mark and Dougie Costello produced him nicely to beat Captain Lars by half a length."Soft ground is massive to him," said Midgley."He needs a strong pace, too, so he relies on the others doing the work for him. He wasn't winning out of turn."Fire Brigade was another easy winner for Michael Bell and Danny Tudhope in the one-mile handicap.The 10-11 favourite can expect no favours from the handicapper after an effortless success.Jenny Powell on Azari (12-1) just came out best in the battle of the famous fathers, getting the better of Meg Nicholls and Zubayr in the lady riders' race.Powell's father Brendan won the Grand National on Rhyme 'N' Reason, while Paul Nicholls is a multiple champion National Hunt trainer.
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