Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes
|Group 2, Newmarket 14:35
1m, Class 1
|Saturday 27th September 2014|
1 Elm Park 11/4
2 Nafaqa 5/4F
3 Salateen 15/2
6 ran Distances: 1l, 4l, 1½l
TIME 1m 37.10s (slow by 2.00s)
Elm Park will be on many people's Derby shortlist after a fine success in the Royal Lodge
Winner of two starts since finishing third on his debut, the Andrew Balding-trained colt looked to be one of the first of the market principals to be feeling the pinch as Andrea Atzeni was at work quite a way from home.
The 5-4 favourite Nafaqa mastered long-time leader Salateen up front as they began to meet the rising ground, but just as it looked like he would go on to take the Group Two prize, the 11-4 winner finished with a real rattle on the far side, scoring by a length.
Atzeni said: "I always thought I was going to get there. The ground is quick enough for him, he probably wants better ground, which is why he came off the bridle quite early I think.
"He stumbled coming out of the stalls, but he travelled nicely. He started racing quite a long way out, but he came home really well. He's a nice horse. This was the first time I had sat on him, but I know Andrew liked him a lot."
Qatar Racing recently purchased a significant interest in the son of Phoenix Reach, who was supplemented at a cost of £10,000.
Balding said: "I was a bit worried at halfway as I wasn't sure he was liking the ground, I think it was quick enough for him. It's nice to have a good horse. My mother bred him, and I think Phoenix Reach is an underrated stallion.
"He's in the Racing Post Trophy - that will be up to Sheikh Fahad and the others, but I'd have said that as long as he's OK, there was no reason why not.
"Royal Lodge winners deserve consideration for the Derby, whether it's the French or the English we'll see, but there's a lot of water to go under the bridge before then."
Richard Hills, assistant racing manager to Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, added: "Paul (Hanagan) said a faster pace would have suited, but there's no real excuses. It's been a long year, but we were beaten fair and square."
Kevin Ryan was happy with the performance of Salateen in third. He said: "The ground was probably just a bit lively for him on the day, but you can't take anything away from the winner - he looks a big baby and it was a great performance.
"Our horse is going to improve a lot over the winter and is definitely going to be a better horse with juice in the ground. We'll put him away now and let him grow and mature."
Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes (Group 2)
£110,000 added, 2yo only, 1m, Class 1
Going: Good to Firm, Good in places
|Pos||Dr||Dist||Horse SP Jockey||Wgt||Trainer|
|1st||(4)||Elm Park 11/4
|9-0||A M Balding|
|2nd||(3)||1||Nafaqa (IRE) 5/4f
|9-0||B W Hills|
J P Spencer
|9-0||K A Ryan|
|4th||(6)||1½||Misterioso (IRE) 11/1
|5th||(5)||1¾||Lord Ben Stack (IRE) 8/1
||9-0||K R Burke|
R L Moore
|9-0||D H Brown|