Sea Lord Battles to totesport Mile Victory
1 Sea Lord 6/1
Royston Ffrench guided Sea Lord to a battling front-running victory in the totesport mile to give trainer Mark Johnston his fourth success in the heritage handicap, following on from Fly To The Stars (1997), Riberac (2001) and Laa Rayb (2009).
The 6/1 second favourite jumped from stall 16 and made all for a three quarters of a length triumph over Invisible Man, the pair clear.
Ffrench commented: “It’s very tough to win from the front like that. You have got to get the fractions right and you need a horse that can do it. Fortunately, I had a good horse on my side. Mr Johnston’s horses don’t know how to give in. It was a typical Mark Johnston winner - a great performance.
“The draw is vital in a race like that. You have got to use it to your advantage and I was able to do that.
“I spent some time riding in California a few years back and I am able to clock the race in my head. It’s like anything, the more you do something it becomes second nature. In a race like that you are talking about 12 to 13 seconds a furlong in the early stages then 11 or 10 seconds, if the horse is good enough, in the later stages.
“I knew something was coming to challenge about a furlong and a half out but my fella found more and kept going.”
He said: “It’s a far from easy race to win and we had a terrible dilemma with a horse like this, who is above handicap level really. Do you run in a handicap for the prize money, when you are in the lap of the gods a little bit, or do you go for the Listed race tomorrow, which is what he should be in?
“I have so many handicappers and it does get a little bit frustrating when the good horses are getting beaten by the weight rather than by horses of better ability. That is just a sad fact of handicap racing - it’s great when a horse like this wins but, when they get beaten, you feel that you should have out them in a level weights race. I am sure that the future for him will be in Listed or Group company.
“He looks really well and he hasn’t really had a hard campaign. People say that he has won quite a few times but he doesn’t do a lot at home in between. I am forever trying to stress that he hasn’t galloped since winter time - we just give him routine cantering and he goes to the racecourse to do his gallop.
“Invisible Man looked like he was going incredible well and I wasn’t feeling confident heading into the final furlong because the runner-up loomed up very easily but he always finds more.
“I feel a little bit sorry for Frankie (Dettori on the runner-up) because it should have been his ride at Newmarket and he had to ride the Godolphin horse here. I am sure that he will ride the horse again in the future but they were two nice horses in the finish.”
INVISIBLE MAN MAKES HIS PRESENCE FELT
Invisible Man has become a very visible horse in major mile handicaps this season.
He won the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot last month, and today finished runner-up in the totesport Mile behind Sea Lord. The result was a one-two for son and father, for Sea Lord is owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, while Invisible Man carries the colours of Godolphin’s Sheikh Mohammed.
Saeed bin Suroor, who trains Invisible Man, said: “I’m really pleased, because the horse has always shown plenty of class and speed and the blinkers have helped him a lot. We put them on him at Ascot and it made a difference.
“He was simply beaten by a better horse today, but a furlong out I thought we were going to win. We will keep him to handicaps and take a look at what is available over this trip at York.”
York is also likely to be the destination for the Nigel Tinkler-trained Webbow, who finished fourth in last year’s totesport Mile and today went one place better.
Tinkler said: “He ran marvellously again. He was given a lovely ride by Louis [Philippe Beuzelin] and we couldn’t be more pleased. It would have been nice to beat the two sheikhs, but at least we are up there with our horse. He’s netted more than £12,000 for his efforts.”
Webbow has not won for three years, but Tinkler said: “We’re going for the big pots, and I suppose he could have won a little race on today’s effort, but he’s giving the owners great fun and that’s what racing is all about.”
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