Atzeni steers Angers to German Guineas gold

By Sports Desk May 29, 2023

Andrea Atzeni partnered Angers to an impressive victory in the Mehl-Mulhens-Rennen at Cologne on Monday.

Atzeni, who now rides as a freelance, teamed up with Mario Baratti, who is based in France, to win the German equivalent of the 2000 Guineas and deny Charlie Johnston and Ioritz Mendizabal with Finn’s Charm in second.

Angers had only won one of his six starts in France, and was third to Jean-Claude Rouget’s French Guineas fifth Valimi on his most recent outing.

Finn’s Charm attempted to make all under Mendizabal, with Roger Varian’s previously unbeaten Dragon Icon and Benacre, a stablemate of Finn’s Charm, within touching distance.

The leader briefly looked to have slipped the field before Atzeni brough Angers with a powerful run down the outside and he went on to win by six lengths.

Dhangadhi was third, just ahead of Benacre and Dragon Icon.

“He’s a lovely, big horse and ran very well in France the last day,” Atzeni told Wettstar.

“He gave me a nice feel going down to the start and his trainer Mario Baratti has done a great job to keep him spot on for this race, as it’s never easy to travel a horse to a different country.

“He looked the best horse in the paddock and he was by far the best horse in the race.”

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    Ayr Gold Cup winner Significantly is likely to sidestep a rise in grade at Ascot this weekend and instead wait for the Coral Sprint Trophy at York on Saturday week.

    Revitalised by the Julie Camacho team, Significantly was agonisingly beaten in the Portland Handicap over five and a half furlongs at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting, but gained compensation seven days later at Ayr.

    He almost missed out again there with Joe Fanning looking for a run with a furlong to go, but when the gap came he quickened up smartly.

    While connections were tempted by a crack at the John Guest Racing Bengough Stakes, the fact he would be getting only 3lb from the likes of 113-rated Commanche Falls and the 110-rated Garrus leaves Significantly, still only on a handicap mark of 98, with plenty to find.

    “He’s fit and well but I would imagine that unless the race cuts up badly, we’d wait a week and go to York,” said Steve Brown, Camacho’s husband and assistant.

    “It just makes more sense to run in a handicap off his current mark. There are some good solid performers in at Ascot. We were entitled to enter and have a look but realistically we might just wait a week – and it’s worth more money.

    “The other thing we might have been tempted to go to Ascot had the ground been softer but at the minute it looks like being a decent week weather-wise whereas he thrives when the ground is softer.

    “I know there were one or two unlucky horses at Ayr but I think if we’d have got a run earlier he would have been a bit more of a clear-cut winner than he was.

    “He’s thriving at home, his confidence levels are high. Karl (Burke, former trainer) always said he had a high level of ability and was a decent horse when he was younger, they are clever people and ran him in some big races, they don’t do that unless they think they are worthy.

    “Last season was a quiet one for him, as any horse can havem but I think he’s back to the level he showed for Karl.”

  • Shaquille set for racecourse spin ahead of possible Ascot date Shaquille set for racecourse spin ahead of possible Ascot date

    Shaquille’s participation on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot may rest on how he comes through a racecourse gallop next week.

    Julie Camacho’s Commonwealth and July Cup winner ran no sort of a race when last seen in the Sprint Cup at Haydock, a performance which still has connections scratching their heads.

    Having missed the break badly in both his Group One wins, he broke on terms on Merseyside only to be beaten by halfway.

    Nothing has subsequently come to light, but should he continue to please on the gallops, then October 21 is likely to have a ring around it on the calendar.

    “He’s fine, we’re just taking it one step at a time,” said Steve Brown, Camacho’s husband and assistant.

    “He worked on Saturday and we were pleased with him, he’ll work again this week and the following week we’ll go away and have a racecourse gallop somewhere.

    “Nothing is decided yet, that will be just to take him to a different environment and see how he handles it and to get him back on a racecourse, get the blood flowing a little bit and then we’ll see from there.”

    Reflecting on Haydock, Brown added: “It’s disappointing that we haven’t found an absolute reason that he was so below form at Haydock but as I always say, sometimes you just don’t have an answer. We might like to think we do, but sometimes we just don’t.

    “I’ve slightly taken the view that it was just too bad to be true unfortunately. Whilst we were all devastated on the day, the only thing we can do is regroup and look forward.”

    Shaquille is one of 23 remaining in contention for the British Champions Sprint, for which last year’s winner Kinross is ante-post favourite following his near-miss in France on Sunday.

    In the Champion Stakes, the progressive Horizon Dore heads the market with Coral with Bay Bridge, King Of Steel and Mostahdaf among the 16 contenders.

    Paddington and Tahiyra headline 18 in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes with Free Wind, Time Lock and Via Sistina among 26 possibles in the Fillies & Mares.

    Trueshan, Kyprios, Courage Mon Ami and Coltrane are all still among 17 in the Long Distance Cup.

  • ‘Precarious weather watch’ in prospect for connections of Shouldvebeenaring ‘Precarious weather watch’ in prospect for connections of Shouldvebeenaring

    Shouldvebeenaring’s owners were delighted after they saw their late entry for the Prix de la Foret pay off with a gallant run at ParisLongchamp, but they could now face a similar conundrum with regards to Qipco British Champions Day.

    The Richard Hannon-trained grey was supplemented for the French Group One after the ground, which is usually soft in Paris in autumn, turned out to be rather quicker than expected.

    Ridden by Sean Levey, the colt held his own at the level once again, finishing third behind Kelina and Kinross in a field of 14 to justify the decision to add him to the line-up.

    “Vindicated and relief are the two words that spring to mind! Spending €25,000 to go in comes with a little bit of pressure, so to see him run so well, we were absolutely thrilled,” said Tim Palin of owners Middleham Park Racing.

    “Every day as the week went on it was drying up and then they were breaking track records, we knew it would play into his hands because he is best on the top of the ground.

    “It was a great ride from Sean and there was a thrilling moment there when you thought he was coming to win, but of course the two class acts were just a length or two in front of him.

    “For all that we got there, we couldn’t quite go past but to even finish in the same postcode as Kinross is a real feather in our horse’s cap, a real testament to his tenacity and his durability.

    “He’s danced pretty much every dance this year, there’s only one month that he’s not run in this year.

    “I think one of the beauties of him is the way that he switches off in his races and the way that Sean rides, it just means that he only ever has to sprint for two furlongs in his races. He’s not a make-all, eyeballs-out horse who is on the speed and in the thick of it from start to finish.”

    The gamble also paid off financially as his prize-money well exceeded his supplementary fee, and similar calculations could now justify another late entry – this time for the British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot.

    Again the ground will prove pivotal with quick going preferred, meaning connections will keep a keen eye on the weather forecast as they weigh-up the Ascot race with the Challenge Stakes at Newmarket just over a week beforehand.

    Palin said: “There’s a couple of options – he is in the Challenge Stakes, a week on Friday, the Group Two, that’s seven furlongs at Newmarket and he’d probably go there with a favourite’s chance. We’ll have to talk to Richard and Sean and give him a breeze next week to see if he’s over his exertions.

    “That would be on the agenda, but that’s only about eight days before the Champions Sprint at Ascot. We’d need to look at the weather forecast to see whether we’d dare wait another week for the rain not to arrive or the heavens not to open.

    “He’s not in there, realistically because at the time of entry you’re assuming it’s going to be soft or heavy ground. A bit like the Foret, he was never in that, we took the decision to wait and supplement and of course it paid off.

    “Being second at Haydock in the Sprint Cup meant that he earned £91,000, so that gave us a little bit of financial wiggle room to be able to play the supplementary game. It cost €25,000 to go in the other day and he earned €40,000, so there’s plenty of money in the kitty if we need to supplement for that.

    “The weather gods might shine on us, literally, in that week coming up to it but we’ll have to make a decision before we truly know – declarations for the Challenge Stakes will be on the Wednesday and it’s another 10 days to the Champions Sprint.

    “It’s going to be a precarious weather watch to see which way we go.”

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