Pretty Crystal held off the late surge of Dance Sequence in the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket.

Viewed as the first 1000 Guineas trial of the spring, Charlie Appleby’s previously unbeaten Dance Sequence was 10-11 favourite to enhance her Classic claims.

William Buick was briefly short of room on the Godolphin filly and it was just then that Oisin Orr on Pretty Crystal made his decision to set off in pursuit of Brian Meehan’s Kathmandu, who had made a bold bid for home.

As Kathmandu’s stride began to shorten, it was Richard Fahey’s Pretty Crystal who looked the likely winner but Dance Sequence, once in the clear, began to make ground.

The favourite began to roll around upon meeting the rising ground, though, making life difficult for Buick, and that enabled Pretty Crystal (18-1) to come out on top by a neck.

El Fabiolo will bid to aid Willie Mullins’ quest to be crowned Britain’s champion jumps trainer by contesting the bet365 Celebration Chase on the final day of the season at Sandown.

With the Randox Grand National success of I Am Maximus at Aintree seeing Mullins hit the front in the title race, the Closutton is keen to grab what he believes would be a “once in a lifetime achievement” with both hands, as he looks to fend of Dan Skelton and perennial champion Paul Nicholls.

As is usually the case, most of the Mullins big guns are being readied to round off the campaign at the Punchestown Festival between April 30 and May 4.

But star two miler El Fabiolo could forego an outing in County Kildare to instead head back across the Irish Sea the previous Saturday, with the £170,000 Celebration Chase likely to have a major bearing on where the championship ultimately ends up.

Speaking at a press morning at his yard to promote the Punchestown Festival, Mullins said: “El Fabiolo will definitely go to Sandown.

“The Celebration Chase is an important race and it looks like a big race that we have the winning of, which would be huge.

“A lot will depend on what happens between now and Punchestown, (but) looking at it, we’re about £50,000 in front, so if we won that (Celebration Chase), one of the other guys would have to win another feature and probably another race to pass us.

“It’s a three-score game at the moment, but Paul is really a master of winning the championship and he will have his tactics in his head already. He could win the Scottish National and the bet365 Gold Cup and blow us out of the water, but you need a lot of luck to do that too.

“We’re just hoping that we can get one nice prize – and with a bit of luck, it will make it difficult then for Dan and Paul.

“We’re getting huge goodwill, especially from a lot of people across the water. They’re saying it’s adding a bit of spice to the end of the season and it’s a once in a lifetime achievement if we can manage to pull it off, so we’re going to put everything into it.”

El Fabiolo will be on a retrieval mission if he does turn up at Sandown after a bad mistake led to him being pulled up as a 2-9 favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Mullins revealed the seven-year-old was feeling the effects of his disappointing effort after returning to Ireland, but is confident he is now back on-song.

He added: “He just wasn’t right when he came back from Cheltenham, so I just gave him a break and let him find his feet, so he’s bucking and kicking the last few mornings.

“He just wasn’t himself, but there was nothing to treat when we got home. Sometimes you just give a horse a break and let him recuperate and he’s done that and seems in good form now.

“He’s as fit as a flea and one or two bits of work should see him right for Sandown, I imagine.”

Another horse under consideration for a trip to Sandown is Arkle hero Gaelic Warrior, although the six-year-old does also have the option of Punchestown’s Barberstown Castle Novice Chase.

Mullins said: “Gaelic Warrior always looked very, very good but that form got a huge boost and it would be nice going to Punchestown with that, but I think he holds an entry in Sandown, so we’ll see how things go but I’d like to go to Punchestown with him.

“It’s sort of thrown a bit of a spanner in the works for our team but we still have an A-team I think to bring to Punchestown anyhow.

“It’s not something I like doing (running a novice in open company), but maybe this year we might have to look. El Fabiolo will be there, though, maybe he’d be enough.”

Charlie Appleby’s Ottoman Fleet landed the bet365 Earl Of Sefton Stakes for the second successive year at Newmarket.

The five-year-old was race-fit, having had three runs at Meydan in Dubai, and having won this race 12 months ago, had been racing with credit at a high level in America.

A consistent performer, he falls just short of the top class but in Group Three company, he is a force to be reckoned with.

Having travelled smoothly into contention two furlongs from home for William Buick, he soon took two lengths out of the field and the race was over in a matter of strides.

While he began to get tired late on and Astro King, the Cambridgeshire winner, closed to within a length, the 7-4 favourite was never in any danger.

The disappointment of the race was Roger Varian’s Embesto, who finished a well beaten fifth.

Jayarebe ran out a most impressive winner of the bet365 Feilden Stakes at Newmarket for Brian Meehan and Sean Levey.

Only seen twice last season, he won on his debut on the July course and was then stepped markedly up in class for the Group One Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at ParisLongchamp on Arc weekend.

Only seventh behind Richard Hannon’s Rosallion there, he took a major leap forward on this occasion.

Never far from the firing line, Levey kicked for home heading into the dip and having hit the front, he soon put daylight between himself and his rivals.

Aidan O’Brien’s Gasper De Lemos briefly looked a threat before fading, while Andre Fabre’s Narkez never looked like playing a part in the finish.

It was the Richard Hughes-trained Whip Cracker who chased home the 11-1 winner, another who was close to the pace throughout, but he was beaten three and a quarter lengths.

“In three runs, he’s won here at Newmarket twice, once on the July Course and now the Rowley Mile – he’s a lovely horse,” said Meehan.

“He’s seen that out really well and pedigree-wise you would imagine a mile and a quarter would be the limit of his stamina, but he looked very good there.

“I liked the way he did it today, especially the way he came up the hill. He was always impressive last year and he has been doing well throughout the spring.

“He’s a lovely horse and I think if he would have been over a mile in the Lagardere, he would have probably run a bit better, but the form is really good.

“He was only six lengths behind Rosallion and that was seven furlongs, whereas today was a mile and one and, as always, there is natural improvement over the winter with these two to three-year-olds. The bare form is pretty good for a Listed race.

“The owner is away and back next week, so I’ll go and meet him and see what we’re going to do. He’s possibly a French Derby type, but he’s also a horse that might benefit for a bit more of a subtle touch for a while.

“The mile and a quarter race at Ascot would be a race to consider and there is a whole summer ahead of us and there’s plenty of time.”

Karl Burke’s leading Qipco 1000 Guineas hope Fallen Angel was one of a host of classy three-year-olds in action on the Rowley Mile before racing at Newmarket on Wednesday.

The Moyglare Stud Stakes winner is amongst the market leaders for the first Classic of the season and Burke was very happy with what he saw.

“I was very happy with her and Danny (Tudhope) was delighted,” said Burke.

“We’ve got two and a half weeks (before the 1000 Guineas) and she has time for at least one more good piece of work at home. This was always the plan and she needed the gallop for fitness, whereas Night Raider, we brought him here for experience.

“After watching that and what we saw last year, I think she has a good chance of staying at least a mile and a quarter. She is in the Oaks but we don’t need to worry about that just yet and we will concentrate on the Guineas for now.

“She’s a very good Group One winner at two, with not too many miles on the clock – and she’s unlucky not to be unbeaten.

“She’s a filly who saves her best for when she is really asked and as you saw in the Moyglare last year, she looked beat and then was doing her best work crossing the line. I think that will be the same in the Guineas.”

Advertising the strength in depth at his yard, Burke also galloped a live 2000 Guineas contender in the unbeaten Night Raider, two from two on the all-weather to date.

The son of Dark Angel galloped with the 113-rated Flight Plan, coming through the exercise with ease.

“We’ve run a few in the Guineas, Lord Shanakill was the first one I think and Flight Plan ran in it with Holloway Boy last year, but we’re going there with two live chances this year, I think,” said Burke.

“The filly is obviously the stronger chance, whereas the colt is a very good horse, but inexperience could count against him. He’s a lovely horse going forward and physically and mentally he will improve through the year.

“He will have learned loads today and that was his first proper gallop on grass. It will be interesting to see how Flight Plan runs next week (at Sandown) – and if he runs well, it might boost our confidence a bit.

“It’s a fantastic position to be in and we’re very fortunate we have the horses we’ve got at the moment. We’ve got some crackers and all the balloons are full at the moment.”

Also in action was the Owen Burrows-trained Alyanaabi, last seen finishing second behind 2000 Guineas favourite City Of Troy in the Dewhurst. He finished upsides an older stablemate.

Burrows said: “Jim (Crowley) said he settled well, which was good because he can be a little keen at home.

“Mentally, it will do him the world of good and hopefully he can step forward from it in two and a half weeks.

“Originally, I didn’t think I needed to bring him up here, but we were quite keen to get him on some nice ground and there’s not a lot of that around at the moment.

“Physically, he has done well and we have a bit to find (with City Of Troy), so we will just have to see. I’m happy physically with how he has done, so we will see, time will tell.”

Charlie Hills’ Champagne Stakes winner Iberian was another in action.

“He’s got huge form and his work on fast ground is completely different to that on soft at home and he’s never really had the chance to show his full potential last year,” said Hills.

“Every time he ran, it was soft ground and at Goodwood in his second race, he probably should have won that race, just the track and inexperience and the ground was soft there as well.

“The Champagne was soft as well and he’s gone and beat two Group One winners in that.

“The way he is bred, he should certainly get the mile but you just have to be careful with who he works with in the morning, as he just destroys them in two or three strides, he has so much natural speed.

“He just cantered the first furlong and I just wanted Tom (Marquand) to get a nice rhythm into him, he could be pretty special.”

Shouldvebeenaring is in “the form of his life” ahead of his bid to land another decisive Newmarket blow in the Connaught Access Flooring Abernant Stakes.

Richard Hannon’s four-year-old has been a real money-spinner for his owners Middleham Park Racing and claimed Listed honours on the Rowley Mile last spring in the King Charles II Stakes.

The most consistent of performers, the son of Havana Grey finished the season plying his trade in Group One company, beaten a neck in Haydock’s Sprint Cup before finishing off with a placed effort in the Prix de la Foret.

Having blown away the cobwebs on the all-weather at Wolverhampton last month, connections are now predicting an improved display over his optimum conditions, which they hope will tee-up further top-table outings later in the campaign.

“Six furlongs on decent ground in group company is probably him playing at home,” said Middleham Park’s Tim Palin.

“He’s won on the Rowley Mile before and Richard reports him to be in the form of his life and this has been the target ever since the Lady Wulfruna. We deliberately got an early call into him so we could get him fit and fresh for Thursday’s mission and hopefully he will run another big race.

“We rolled a few big dice with him last year and he never quite got his head in front at Group One level. But on a couple of occasions he threatened to be a Group One winner and hopefully he can be at some point in the future.

“He has a habit of going really well in competitive big-field races and it does look really competitive. Sean Levey gets on well with him and Richard thinks he has improved since last season, so we go there very hopeful.”

Commanche Falls finished second in this 12 months ago before going on to strike three times later in the summer.

The form of his Ascot second to Annaf last autumn was franked on the international stage and although trainer Michael Dods is unsure whether the seven-year-old will be primed to perfection for this Group Three event, the Darlington handler is looking forward to getting another campaign up and running.

“He looks ready for a run and it has been very difficult to get him ready with the bad weather up north and you have got to start somewhere,” explained Dods.

“We just want to get him started and he’ll improve for the run and come on for it and there will be plenty more races later on in the season. He is ready for a run though, so hopefully he runs well.

“He sort of wakes up later in the season and he’s quite a lazy worker at home, so it’s hard to have him fully wound up and he takes a bit of getting ready. He has to go to the races, otherwise we’d never get him fit.”

Getting the better of Commanche Falls in last year’s race was Charlie Hills’ Garrus, who like in 2023, will be partnered by leading rider Ryan Moore.

“I rode him when he won this race last season and he went on to run some good races in defeat,” the jockey told Betfair.

“This is his grade, though he was placed in the Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest a couple of years ago, so he has a solid chance once again.”

Karl Burke is poised to saddle two in the race, with Spycatcher and Marshman both on the team sheet for the Middleham handler.

The former twice hit the frame at the highest level last term and will be attempting to pick up from where he left off, while Marshman failed to build on some top juvenile form in a 2023 curtailed by injury, but returned in rude health when just touched off in Doncaster’s Cammidge Trophy last month.

“Spycatcher wouldn’t want any firm in the description, otherwise he’ll be out, but both horses are in great form,” said Burke.

“Marshman ran a great race at Doncaster and will improve a lot fitness-wise for that run. He handled the heavy ground that day, but it wouldn’t be his preferred choice and good ground over six furlongs should be ideal.

“He goes out in the hood every day at home, he’s always had that. As you could see at Doncaster, he travels very strongly and I think he needs to relax early to get home over the stiffer six furlongs at Newmarket. Cliff (Lee, jockey) was keen to put the hood on, so we’ll see what happens.”

Star mare Golden Ace returns to the scene of her finest hour attempting to remain unbeaten over hurdles in Cheltenham’s Changing Young Lives At Jamie’s Farm Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

Jeremy Scott’s six-year-old hinted at her potential when second to Dysart Enos in a Grade Two Aintree bumper at the end of last season and since switching to hurdles has been flawless, giving her handler a maiden success at the Cheltenham Festival last month.

The form of that triumph was franked by the bloodless success of Gordon Elliott’s Brighterdaysahead at Aintree, with Golden Ace missing her own intended engagement on Merseyside due to a bruised foot.

However, she has recovered sufficiently for a step up in trip on her return to the Cotswolds and this Listed event looks the perfect spot for Golden Ace to finish the season on a real high.

Scott said: “I was very cross we weren’t able to run at Aintree but she seems absolutely fine now and we’ll go to Cheltenham and take our chance.

“On ratings she looks the best but who knows what the others have got up their sleeves.

“Gordon’s horse looked very impressive and that was up to two and a half miles and now we are as well. We will see how well, or not, we see the trip out. She won over two-miles-three and a bit at Taunton (earlier in the season), so I have every confidence she will get it, no problems at all.

“She’s a lovely mare and has been outstanding. We’re looking forward to another run, which will be good for experience and then we can hopefully put her away for next year.”

Dysart Enos may be missing from the line-up but Fergal O’Brien is still represented by Lilting Verse, while Henry Daly’s talented Wyenot, Dan Skelton’s Lightening Mahler and Ben Clarke’s consistent Ooh Betty are others arriving with good form to their name.

Meanwhile, it is Nicky Henderson who has won this race the last two years and with his Seven Barrows string back in form after a short spell in the doldrums, the Henry Ponsonby Racing team can look forward to Aston Martini’s outing in the Cotswolds with more optimism.

Aston Martini was last seen finishing fourth in graded action at Sandown and Liz Rutter, racing manager for the syndicate, said: “I think the ground at Sandown turned out to be far more testing than a lot of people were expecting, so she did well to finish fourth there.

“We are all delighted to see Nicky’s horses back on track and she’s in good form at home. But this is a hot race – the competition is very high – but there are not a lot of opportunities for these mares in novice company, so I think it is worth having a crack at.

“She’s not run at Cheltenham before but there is no reason why she won’t handle it and I think the ground will be lovely; it will be nice, beautiful ground. She’s a very good mover and she’s a very long-striding mare and I think she quite enjoys decent ground.

“She’s a lovely mare who we hope will keep improving, but this could be a tough ask.”

There is also Grade Two action on the card in the British EBF Mares’ Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase Final, where Mel Rowley’s Malaita looks to win on the card for the second year in a row.

A winner over hurdles at Prestbury Park’s April meeting 12 months ago, the eight-year-old has been a respectable performer since switching to fences this term and will be suited by drying conditions, having opened her account over the larger obstacles at Ludlow last month.

“She won at this meeting last year over hurdles and now needs to repeat the performance over the bigger obstacles,” said Rowley.

“She ran at Cheltenham earlier in the season and was running an absolute blinder before overjumping at the third last and she fell. It was just one of those where she was just jumping so enthusiastically, she forgot to put the landing gear out.

“We’ve put that to the back of our minds and since then she has gone out and won and is in really good form.

“She looks great and the ground won’t be a problem, as she would prefer a sounder surface anyway. We would be hopeful that would play to her strengths, rather than her weaknesses.”

The prestigious Penn Relays, set to take place at Franklin Field in Philadelphia from April 25-27, 2024, will pay tribute to the late journalist, author, and track and field analyst Hubert Lawrence by presenting him posthumously with the esteemed Jesse Abramson Award. Lawrence, who passed away suddenly at the age of 63 on February 23, 2024, had been a significant figure in track and field journalism for more than three decades, covering the Penn Relays from 1995 to 2023.

The Jesse Abramson Award recognizes an active member of the media who has consistently demonstrated a devotion to the Penn Relays.

Aaron Robison, the Meet Director of the Penn Relays since 2021, when he was appointed Associate Director at the University of Pennsylvania, expressed enthusiasm for honouring Lawrence with the Abramson Award this year, acknowledging Lawrence's profound impact on the sport. He highlighted the significance of this tribute, noting that Lawrence will be only the third recipient from Jamaica to receive the award.

Jamaica Observer writer Paul Reid was the first-ever Jamaican recipient in 2010 while broadcast journalist Ed Barnes received the award in 2018.

"We're very excited to be able to honour him with the Abramson award this year," said Robison. "With his untimely passing, we just felt that this was an extremely appropriate time to be able to do something like this for someone that has had such a huge impact on the world of track and field within Jamaica, and then also here at the Penn Relays. And last week, I was touching base with Irwin Clare of Team Jamaica Bickle, and he made the recommendation and we thought, what a perfect tribute, and what a perfect opportunity to honour Mr Lawrence."

Robison emphasized Lawrence's universal respect within the track and field community, noting the positive feedback from athletes and coaches alike. "In the media world, it's almost like there's two ends of the spectrum here. There's the really well respected, all the athletes, all the coaches, all the media really likes the person or nobody likes the person. Hubert is absolutely on the end of everyone has just incredible things to say about him," Robison remarked. "What is an incredible tribute for a journalist is when the athletes that they cover have only beautiful things to say about them. That tells you all you need to know about the person."

The Abramson Award will be presented twice during the Penn Relays weekend. The first presentation will occur during the acknowledgement ceremony before the television broadcast window on Saturday afternoon at 1:25 p.m. in front of the whole crowd. The second presentation will take place during the officials' reception after the meet at approximately 6:30 p.m.

Robison reflected on Lawrence's impact on the Penn Relays and the wider track and field community, underscoring his professionalism and rapport with athletes. "To be able to have that class and that dignity, to be respected by those that you're reporting on, that's a real, real skill and an incredible tribute to him," Robison concluded.

The Penn Relays' decision to honour Hubert Lawrence with the Abramson Award underscores Lawrence's enduring legacy and profound influence on the sport of track and field, both in Jamaica and on the international stage. His contributions will be celebrated and remembered during this year's relay festival, ensuring that his impact continues to resonate within the track and field community.

The 128th staging of the Penn Relays will be special.

Sixty years after Jamaican teams first competed at the prestigious relay carnival in Philadelphia, the black, green and gold will again take the spotlight at the 2024 staging from April 25-27 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Team Jamaica Bickle, celebrating 30 years, will execute a Reggae Pop-Up vibe on the final day (April 27) and will for the first time, have a DJ, Road International and live performance from Christopher Martin, a former TBJ ambassador.

Martin who won the 2005 Digicel Rising Stars Contest and who has since gone up to establish himself as one of Jamaica's biggest acts over the last two decades will be the main act in a 20-minute set, never before experienced at the Penn Relays.

The award-winning Road International led by DJ Roy will provide the initial vibe for a massive anchor by Martin.

Irwine Clare Snr, head of Team Jamaica thanks the collaborative effort of VP Records, The University of Pennsylvania, the Consulate of New York, Hypa Active Sounds and Jamaican Dave Productions for making this trailblazing event a reality.

The three-day relay carnival will feature top high school, university and Olympic Development teams from the USA, Canada, Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Kikkuli ensured a notable family line and famous silks returned to the winner’s enclosure by claiming the Alex Scott Maiden Stakes at Newmarket in promising fashion.

The Harry Charlton colt, who is a half-brother of the great Frankel, shed his maiden tag with a gutsy performance during the seven-furlong contest in the green and pink colours of Juddmonte Farms in the hands of Ryan Moore.

He was placed in midfield for much of the race, where Manhattan Mirage flew into a huge lead but quickly weakened, before Moore found a gap for Kikkuli to power through.

Market leader Creative Story threatened to spoil the party by getting his nose in front at one point, but Kikkuli fought back to regain the lead and prevailed by a neck at 5-2, as he built on his encouraging debut last year with his first success.

“It’s wonderful to have him in the yard, but it comes with a little bit of added pressure. It means a lot to the family and a lot to racing,” Charlton told RacingTV about training Frankel’s half-sibling.

“We were hopeful we would see a similar performance to last year with that finish and I think with that final furlong, we saw that strength come through.

“There’s no immediate plan. Ryan said there is something in there but bide your time, he will be even better next year. No grand plans immediately but Ryan was hopeful we will get there one day.”

Ten Bob Tony (7-1) produced a fine one-length success in the bet365 EBF Conditions Stakes to complete a quickfire double for Ed Walker.

The three-year-old contested the lead with Bold Style on the near rail before the challenger moved two lengths clear. Ten Bob Tony then clawed back the advantage with two furlongs to go, as odds-on favourite Boiling Point made headway to try and dispute.

Roger Varian’s colt got to within half a length of the leading pair before jockey Tom Marquand judged the ride perfectly for Ten Bob Tony to finish strongly.

Walker hinted at a tilt at the Qipco 2000 Guineas, where his charge is now priced at 40-1 from 100-1 with Betfair and Paddy Power.

“He just showed a great attitude there, didn’t he?” Walker said. “Tom gave him a perfect ride and got the fractions right, and he hit the line really well.

“I think it has to be (targeting the 2000 Guineas). First horse for a new owner and the dream’s alive – and I think it has to be if he comes out of it well. He loves the track, so why not?”

Walker’s first triumph of the day came through 20-1 shot Hafeet Alain, who literally got his nose in front when it mattered most to land the Mutasaabeq New For 2024 Handicap.

Jockey Saffie Osborne was off the bridle with three furlongs left as Hafeet Alain swooped to the outside and started to gain on the challengers, getting ahead of Majestic inside the final 200 metres.

He battled gamely to move clear but Dutch Decoy was powering home and was a touch unlucky to be beaten by a nose, with Daysofourlives and Theoryofeverything close behind in third and fourth respectively.

“He’s a star,” Walker said of Hafeet Alain. “Last season, he had a great season and he just loves his racing, he is so game. He’s such a game horse, he’s a legend. A real yard favourite.”

Arran ensured Paul and Oliver Cole remained unbeaten with their juveniles so far this season by claiming the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes.

The colt – sired by Havana Grey – grabbed the early lead, which he never relinquished.

He held off a late charge from The Actor to win by a neck at 6-1 for the Coles’ second success with two-year-old runners this campaign. Hallasan, who is by multiple Group One winner Pinatubo and went off as market leader, finished in third.

Hugo Palmer got his first winner on the turf this season as Watcha Matey powered to a two-and-a-quarter-length victory in the JRA Handicap.

The three-year-old was prominent throughout the mile contest and did not panic when the aptly-named Crown Estate hit the front three furlongs out in the Royal colours.

However, that runner quickly weakened, leaving Watcha Matey, The Camden Colt and The Ice Phoenix battling for the lead in the closing stages, before the eventual winner kicked on for a convincing triumph.

Tees Spirit (10-1) ran out a good winner under the guidance of Mia Nicholls in the It’s Never Ordinary At bet365 Handicap.

The six-year-old, who had placed just once since his last win in August 2022, established an early lead on the far rail and was three lengths clear by the time they hit the halfway mark in the five-furlong race.

He weakened and drifted inside late on, but still crossed the line one and three-quarter lengths ahead of the strong-finishing Navello.

Britain’s oldest professional jockey Jimmy Quinn has confirmed his intention to continue riding until the end of the season, having initially planned to announce his retirement at Newmarket on Tuesday.

The 56-year-old has enjoyed multiple big-race victories during a 40-year career, most notably making the most of his light weight when coming in for the ride aboard John Best’s rapid two-year-old Kingsgate Native, who provided him with a first Group One victory in the 2007 Nunthorpe Stakes at York.

With the Charlie Hills-trained Bodorgan his only booked ride at this year’s Craven meeting, Quinn felt the time had come to call it a day, but he has now been persuaded to carry on for the rest of the year.

“It (licence) runs out today and word got out on the street pretty quick (regarding the planned retirement),” he told Racing TV.

“I got a few phone calls, positive ones from senior riders and other people riding, and one of them said ‘why are you packing up at the start of the season, why not ride for a bit longer in the summer?’

“I’m going to reapply for my licence again and ride until probably the end of the season on the turf and then say thank you very much.

“I’ve had a lot of support over the years and I’ve had a few good phone calls to say keep going with it. I have no weight issues, I’m pretty fit and ride out every day.

“Even if I get 20 rides between now and then, it’s 20 rides. I enjoy it a lot still, it’s a great job and it keeps you young. It keeps you active and gives you something to aim at every day.”

In Excelsis Deo will not be winning out of turn if he can belatedly open his account for the season in the Matt Hampson Foundation Silver Trophy Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.

Although winless since making a successful British and chasing debut for Harry Fry at Hereford in December 2022, the JP McManus-owned six-year-old has run several good races in defeat and his trainer feels he is due a change of fortune.

Placed on his first two starts of the current campaign at Cheltenham, the Saddex gelding may well have secured top honours on his next appearance at Sandown but for unseating Jonathan Burke at the final fence.

He then did well to finish as close as he did when fifth at the Cheltenham Festival last month after being hampered by a faller four fences from home.

Fry feels In Excelsis Deo has more than enough ability to claim victory in Wednesday’s Grade Two feature if getting the rub of the green.

“He bumped into Madara in December, who then went and won at the Dublin Racing Festival, and we obviously unseated when with every chance at the last at Sandown on his next run,” said the trainer.

“I think it’s fair to say he hasn’t necessarily had luck on his side or the rub of the green this season, but he’s been running well in defeat and, with a bit of luck in running, hopefully he won’t be too far away in this.

“Hopefully he can put it all together and he’ll be in there with every chance.”

The title-chasing pair of Dan Skelton and Paul Nicholls are both represented in the £70,000 contest, with Skelton saddling Sail Away and Nicholls running course-and-distance winner Il Ridoto.

Sail Away returns to handicap company after finishing last of four in the Grade One Ascot Chase, while Il Ridoto has been placed in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, the December Gold Cup and on Festival Trials day at Cheltenham this season, but could finish only eighth in the Plate on his latest visit.

“He’s a standing dish at Cheltenham and usually runs very well in these two-and-a-half-mile handicaps,” Nicholls told Betfair.

“It didn’t quite happen for him last time at the Festival, when he was towards the rear in the early stages before staying on at the finish. He has his chance, but is probably still on a stiff enough handicap mark.”

Scarface has won three of his last four starts over fences for Joe Tizzard and faces a rise in class.

Tizzard said: “He’s done nothing wrong and we were tempted to wait for Sandown next week, but the forecast is drying out all the time and we thought we’d have a go here.

“It’s a step up, but he’s in cracking form and he’s on the upgrade.”

Robert Hadad, chairman of the Normalisation Committee, expressed satisfaction with the way in which they steered the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), and is now happy that they turned over the reins to newly-elected president Kieron Edwards and his administration.

Hadad, who was on hand when Edwards and his Team Progressive topped Colin Wharfe 38-19 at the recent TTFA's elections and Extraordinary Congress in Couva, is now delighted to move on with his personal life, having done enough for football in the twin island republic for the past four years.

Edward's administration is the first self-governed TTFA in more than four years. This as William Wallace's administration was removed months after being elected in November 2019, as FIFA intervened and installed the Hadad-chaired Normalisation Committee in March 2020, citing financial concerns.

“I have no intention of doing anything more. I am quite happy to move on with my personal life. I love fishing, I love the outdoors, and I’m going to continue in my quest for some personal, private time, without anything hanging over my head, like football," Hadad declared.

That said, the local businessman, whose four years in charge was to oversee the liquidation of a multi-million TTFA debt that stood for decades, believed he did his best to complete the mandate given to him by FIFA.

“I was very satisfied with what we were able to achieve. I think that the last four years have brought us (to) a better place and I’m content with that. I don’t think I can please everybody, and I don’t think I will ever please everybody," he said.

“The Association, I would think, they are in a pretty good place. The Association is debt free, save an except for the financial arrangement with FIFA which will be paid off over the next ten years. The rest of it is up to Mr Edwards now and the membership, to take football forward,” Hadad added.

While applauding the large turnout of TTFA delegates at Saturday's elections, Hadad, whose four years in charge was to oversee the liquidation of a multi-million TTFA debt that stood for decades, expressed optimism that football will not only move forward, but more importantly, impact lives enough to assist in decreasing the crime rate.

“I’d like to congratulate the TTFA members. I think they were very professional coming out in their numbers, 100% attendance. The normalisation process is completed," Hadad said, adding that debtors had been paid, with the exception of disputed matters involving Englishmen Terry Fenwick and Peter Miller, which are before the local courts.

“There are two matters before the court and those matters have to be resolved. The trustee Maria Daniel will continue working to bring those matters to a close,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Edwards praised Hadad and his Normalisation Committee for the work done.

“The Normalisation Committee played a crucial role in Trinidad and Tobago football. We need to understand that, and we need to acknowledge the service they would have given to Trinidad and Tobago football," the new TTFA president shared.

Roger Varian’s True Cyan will be put to the test in the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket on Wednesday.

The grey is a daughter of No Nay Never and the smart mare Realtra, a multiple Group winner who was also trained at Carlburg Stables by Varian.

True Cyan has run once to date, competing in a seven-furlong maiden on the Rowley Mile last September and prevailing by a length and a half.

She now returns to the same course and distance but at Group Three level to test her credentials in the Nell Gwynn, a race that can often serve as a trial to the various 1000 Guineas contests in Europe.

“She won her maiden well on the same track last autumn, we’re really on a mission to find out where we might go with her and what we might do this season,” said Chris Wall, racing manager to owner Shaikh Khalid’s KHK Racing organisation.

“It looks a good opportunity to do that, it’s a competitive race and depending on how we run, we’ll know what we’re going to do in the future.

“She’s wintered well, she’s been training satisfactorily, we’re hopeful of a positive effort and then we’ll take it from there.”

There are proven Group performers in the race in Matrika and Dance Sequence and those horses will act as good yardsticks for True Cyan as connections seek to understand her calibre.

“If you’re going to be stakes class, you’ll have to be up there competing with them – and if not, we’ll have to go down another route with her,” Wall said.

“We’ll see, we’ll know a lot more after her run tomorrow but she’s done everything in the right way and has been training nicely, we’re hoping for a nice run.”

Godolphin and Charlie Appleby’s Dance Sequence heads the market at present.

A winner of a July Course maiden last summer, the Dubawi filly then contested the Oh So Sharp over the Nell Gwyn course and distance and prevailed again.

That latter run was at Group Three level and the three-year-old now returns to start her season at the same grade.

“Dance Sequence has done very well over the winter,” Appleby said on the Godolphin website.

“She has already won over the course and distance in the Oh So Sharp Stakes and looks the one to beat again.”

Aidan O’Brien is represented in the race by Matrika, another daughter of No Nay Never who steps up to seven furlongs having last been seen winning the Group Two Airlie Stud Stakes at the Curragh.

Prior to that, she won her maiden and was second in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot when coming home a length behind subsequent Cheveley Park heroine Porta Fortuna.

Ryan Moore takes the ride and told Betfair: “Dance Sequence has looked pretty good in winning in both her starts, including the Oh So Sharp Stakes, but I don’t think my filly is far behind her, if at all.

“Her only defeat came in the Albany at Royal Ascot, when second to the subsequent Cheveley Park winner and Breeders’ Cup runner-up Porta Fortuna, and she did it well for me in a Group Two at the Curragh subsequently.

“We didn’t see her after that win in July but the fact that she is here speaks for itself, Aidan has his horses in very good nick and, while she has plenty of speed, I’d have thought she will get the extra furlong here OK.

“But there are a few promising horses in this, and this certainly isn’t a straight match between us and the Godolphin horse, for all Dance Sequence is the hot favourite in here, I see.”

Elsewhere in the race is John and Thady Gosden’s Spiritual, fourth in the Rockfel on her last outing of 2023, with Richard Fahey’s Dubawi filly Pretty Crystal entered after collecting a Group Three placing last term.

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