Hukum denies Desert Crown in tremendous Brigadier Gerard battle

By Sports Desk May 25, 2023

Hukum overcame his own lengthy absence to deny last year’s Derby winner Desert Crown in the Racehorse Lotto Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown.

Trained by Owen Burrows, Hukum is now six and his career looked over after he picked up what looked a career-ending injury in winning the Coronation Cup 12 months ago.

The decision was taken to keep him in training and that now looks inspired, as Jim Crowley – who briefly looked boxed in – got Hukum flying late on to win by half a length in an enthralling battle up the Sandown hill.

Desert Crown had been kept off the track by his own injury – for 355 days to Hukum’s 356 – after his famous Epsom success on what was just his third ever outing.

Following his tried and tested route with his top-class older horses, Sir Michael Stoute was looking for a 12th win in the race and connections were happy going into the Group Three feature.

Settled in fifth by Richard Kingscote as stablemate and pacemaker Solid Stone led at a steady gallop, he was set something of a test but breezed into the lead a furlong out only to be reeled in late on by the 5-1 winner.

While Stoute will no doubt be left scratching his head his former assistant Burrows will be dreaming of a big summer.

Betfair cut Hukum to 14-1 from 25s for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with Desert Crown now the same price from 8s.

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  • Soul Sister and Emily Upjohn leave Dettori on cloud nine Soul Sister and Emily Upjohn leave Dettori on cloud nine

    There comes a point when you think Frankie Dettori is writing his own scripts. And we are surely approaching that now, after the magical Italian added the Betfred Oaks on Soul Sister to the 2000 Guineas he won on Chaldean, begging the question ‘why retire?’.

    Just for good measure Dettori also won the day’s other Group One contest at Epsom, the Dahlbury Coronation Cup, with Emily Upjohn – and ended the afternoon as favourite to be crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Both winners were trained by John and Thady Gosden.

    There were joyous scenes following both victories. Dettori was delighted to have won the Coronation Cup for the Lloyd Webbers, part-owners of the filly and long-standing patrons at the Gosden yard, after she was so narrowly denied in the Oaks 12 months ago.

    And while Group Ones are not to be sniffed at, especially in your final year, it is the Classics the game is built around and for what jockeys are really remembered.

    This was Dettori’s seventh Oaks to go with four wins each in the 1000 and 2000 Guineas, six St Legers and two Derbys – more of that later.

    “Emily was incredible, I didn’t expect that. Then in the Oaks – she’s a good filly,” said the 52-year-old.

    Listening to Dettori explaining his thought process through a race is like a teaching from a master, and he clearly still gets a great kick out of it.

    He said: “It was a bit messy in the beginning and she took a while to organise, I had to bite the bullet. She jumped good and I was looking for somebody’s wheel to follow as I didn’t want to be stuck wide.

    “I wanted to slot in behind Ryan (Moore, on favourite Savethelastdance), but William (Buick, on Eternal Hope) was there before me. I thought with Oisin (Murphy, on the withdrawn Running Lion) out of the way the ones to beat were Ryan and William, so I parked myself behind William to get her to relax.

    “Nearly out of Tattenham Corner William’s horse just dived in front of me so I thought, given she only had a little experience, if I went wide at least I would have clean air.”

    He went on: “I then had to avoid the other pacemaker and swing even wider and the Connor (Beasley on Caernarfon) came upsides me.

    “I didn’t ask for my filly’s ultimate effort and I was telling myself to bide my time, I sat quiet between the three (furlong marker) and the one and a half and then I was just hoping if I pressed the button she’d go. And she did go! It was good relief. The track wasn’t to her liking, but she showed so much class.”

    Of course, there has been no bigger showman in racing since Dettori came over to England from Italy in the late 1980s and just a few years later he was a household name.

    Quite what the sport will do to fill the void when he retires later this is still up for debate. He remains the biggest marketing tool out there by a long way and the publicity of his farewell season, with him still at the top of his game, cannot be bought.

    “I was able to enjoy the screaming of all of the crowd and I couldn’t believe I’d won another Oaks! I was able to enjoy it and I loved it as I knew I’d won,” he said.

    “Usually when you win the Oaks they give you an oak tree, the last one I got for Snowfall my dog decided to play with it and ripped it around the garden, so I could do with a new tree!

    “When I passed them all I knew as I’d come from the back, I knew there was nobody behind me. You don’t get many opportunities to celebrate like that – maybe with Snowfall who was 20 lengths clear – but all the owners are here and all the gang so to go home and say I’ve done a 100 per cent job is great.”

    However good the Oaks is, one race above all others in Flat racing is king. The Betfred Derby may be under well-documented threat from animal rights protesters, but if Frankie Dettori has his way there will an Arrest of a different kind on the front pages.

    “At the moment things are going well, but you can easily mess up in this game! Five months is a long time,” he said when asked why he was calling it a day.

    “If I stay one more year I might get close to Lester’s (Piggott) 30 (Classics) – I’m joking! It’s mental, it’s incredible. I’ve had three good rides this weekend, Emily, Soul Sister and Arrest. To get two in the bag with one to go is incredible, I’m very excited about tomorrow. John’s horses, as you can see, are on fire and let’s hope it continues to tomorrow.”

  • Jack Channon proud of Caernarfon’s gallant Oaks effort Jack Channon proud of Caernarfon’s gallant Oaks effort

    Jack Channon was far from downhearted after coming within two lengths of Betfred Oaks glory with Caernarfon in his first season with a training licence.

    Channon took over from his father Mick at West Ilsley at the start of the year, and has wasted little time in making his presence felt in the fillies’ Classics, with Caernarfon having also taken a fine fourth in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket last month.

    Stepping up to 12 furlongs for the first time at Epsom, Channon thought he might be about to enjoy a dream start to his training career as Caernarfon briefly grabbed the lead two furlongs out.

    However, the unstoppable Frankie Dettori – landing his second Group One of the day – delivered Soul Sister with a perfectly-timed challenge to secure the honours, with Caernarfon touched off a head by Savethelastdance for second.

    The 40-1 shot could now drop back in distance after delighting Channon with her run.

    He said: “I thought she was going to win two out, but then I saw Frankie was cantering as well. She’s a very good filly, I’ll see what Connor (Beasley, jockey) says but she tanked herself into the race, had every chance and she’s probably just been outstayed by two stayers.

    “She’s a very good filly and has run a belter. She’ll probably drop back to 10 furlongs but I’ll have a chat with Connor and let the dust settle.

    “I couldn’t be happier – apart from if she’d won.”

    Beasley was equally as thrilled, adding: “She travelled lovely into the race. Coming away down Tattenham Corner she came underneath me really good and I thought, ‘I’ve just got to try to pick a way through’. She obviously hit the front and I don’t think she’s quite seen it out.

    “But it was amazing, what she’s just done there, and I think we’ve got a very nice filly to go to war with.

    “I can’t thank Jack and Mick Channon enough and the owners – they’ve stood by me with her.”

    Savethelastdance was sent off the 5-6 favourite on the back of her wide-margin Cheshire Oaks victory, one that came on deep ground as opposed to the much quicker Epsom conditions.

    Her trainer Aidan O’Brien offered no excuses in defeat, saying: “She has run well but she obviously handles soft ground and stays very well.

    “We were very happy with her really. She has a lot of options and we can do whatever.

    “Ryan (Moore) was very happy and said she ran a good race. She stayed on very well. The winner was a bit quicker than her on the better ground, but she ran well. She ran a great race but she was beaten by a very classy filly.

    “Ryan said she was not finished going to the line and that she was still going strong. A furlong out she looked like she was going to be third, but she stayed on well to be second.

    “We will take her home and nothing is ruled in or out.”

    Maman Joon, who had finished second on her only previous start at Newbury, defied her odds of 50-1 to take a distant fourth for jockey Kevin Stott and trainer Richard Hannon.

    The rider said: “It was a really good run on just her second start. She will be going places and we like her a lot. I was riding for luck more than anything and it turned out the way I wanted.

    “They just quickened up a bit quicker than I did, but that is probably down to her inexperience. It was a good run. I think there is a nice prize in her.”

    There had been drama at the start when Running Lion, a stablemate of the winner, kicked out in the stalls before backing out and breaking free, leaving Oisin Murphy stranded and forcing her withdrawal from the race.

    John Gosden is now targeting quick compensation in France, as long as the filly recovers sufficiently.

    He said: “Running Lion has never done anything wrong before – she’s a pussycat. She got her leg caught in the gate and cut it, so they had to take her out, and then she got loose.

    “We’ll get her right and then take her for the Prix de Diane in 16 days’ time.”

    Murphy added: “She just kicked the back gates open.”

  • Olivia Maralda books Royal Ascot ticket with Epsom victory Olivia Maralda books Royal Ascot ticket with Epsom victory

    Olivia Maralda hit the target with a neat success in the Nyetimber Surrey Stakes at Epsom.

    The filly, who is trained by Roger Varian and part-owned by footballer Philippe Coutinho with Amo Racing, was last seen finishing seventh in the 1000 Guineas and was a 3-1 chance dropped in grade and trip.

    Those factors seemed to suit her perfectly and she provided jockey Kevin Stott with double on the day as she sauntered to a two-and-a-quarter-length win over 7-4 favourite Holguin.

    “She was good, she ran well in the Guineas. She loved the fast ground and seven is probably her trip,” said Varian

    “I thought they would go quick and I actually didn’t think they went very quick, there was a few keen in behind. But we know she has a good turn of foot and I quite like that slightly outer draw round this track to get a clear run.

    “I think bar the second race the winners have been coming from just off the pace so it was always the plan to give her a chance early and let her class come through.

    “She’s very balanced and we always thought she would be comfortable on the track.

    “I would like to continue the Jersey (Stakes). Seven is her trip, fast pace and if we get fast ground she could be a danger.”

    Bobsleigh flew to an impressive success in the British EBF 40th Anniversary Woodcote Stakes.

    Eve Johnson Houghton’s two-year-old came into the race with quite a taking Brighton maiden win to his name and was a 5-1 chance in this 12-runner affair.

    He did not feature prominently in the early stages and was patiently ridden by an ice-cool Charlie Bishop until the final bend, when he was manoeuvred around the field to challenge.

    Having taken a wide line he battled past each of his rivals, including the 9-4 favourite Haatem, who missed the break completely and did extremely well to finish third, and long-time leader and eventual runner-up Balon d’Or.

    Johnson Houghton said: “I think we’ve got a Royal Ascot two-year-old on our hands, he’s pretty exciting and it went exactly as we planned.

    “We thought they’d go really fast, so I said to Charlie to get him balanced and wait until he comes to you. I knew he had a good turn of foot, but it was whether he could make up that much ground – I thought he was pretty impressive.

    “I don’t know which race at Ascot. He’s got plenty of boot so we could drop back to five and the Coventry over six is obviously going to be the hottest race.

    “This syndicate is great, it’s a fantastic day out for them. Anthony Bromley and I did a pretty good job picking him up for not much money (€17,000) and they are having the time of their lives.

    “Hopefully we can have a good season as they usually sell them at the end of their first year. He was small when we bought him, but he thrived since he’s been gelded.

    “The name comes from the dam, Lady Rosebud. Rosebud was a sledger.”

    Bishop added: “Eve does a fantastic job of buying these horses for the syndicate. The team were very bullish, I’ve barely sat on him apart from riding him at Brighton so a lot of credit goes to everyone at home and the trainer – she doesn’t do a bad job, does she?

    “The Windsor Castle is back at five and it is probably a more winnable race than the Coventry Stakes. We will see how he comes out of this and if he improves again and we think it is worth a go at the Coventry then maybe we might go for that, but I would say the Windsor Castle might be more up his street.

    “Obviously these connections have had luck in the Windsor Castle before with Chipotle. It would be great to get him to Royal Ascot in one piece and whatever race she decides to run him in I’m sure she won’t be wrong.”

    Cadillac cruised to a comfortable win in the Betfred Handicap for Stott and George Boughey.

    The five-year-old was a 12-1 chance and eased along the middle of the track to gain momentum on the approach to the line, passing the tiring front runners and prevailing by a length and three quarters.

    “I thought he was a bit too far back but he had to ride him for luck as he wasn’t drawn perfectly,” Boughey said.

    “He didn’t run well first time out this season when I thought he would as he was back into a handicap for the first time so that was satisfying today.

    “He’s a very honest horse but I think left-handed is a big key to him. I’m delighted for the owner as he’s a big supporter of the yard and he’s a fun horse to have. I suppose we’ll have to look at Ascot but that is right-handed.”

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