MEEHAN STRIKES AT SANDOWN

Meehan Strikes At Sandown
Meehan Strikes At Sandown
Sporting Life

Grey Mirage

Ballesteros seemed to appreciate the return to the minimum trip as he pulled past Bear Behind in the bet365 Handicap at Sandown.

As Brian Meehan’s three-year-old is a son of Tomba, it is no surprise he handles soft ground and he looked far sharper than on his first outing of the season, when he only beat a handful home at Newmarket.

Ballesteros (7-2) and Bear Behind ended up finishing a surprising 11 lengths clear of the remaining runners, with Ryan Moore managing to get a neck in front of his rival by the line. The 6-5 favourite Rafeej did not seem to handle conditions and was last.

“I think six furlongs was too far for him at Newmarket but I think it was good to get the fizz out of him too,” said Meehan.

“He loved the ground. He was off 93 today and I suppose we’ll try to find another handicap. There may be one at Chester.”

Silvestre’de Sousa did his occasional association with trainer Marco Botti no harm at all with a masterful ride on Grey Mirage (6-1) in the bet365 Esher Cup.

The aspiring champion jockey made all the running on this progressive and powerful son of Oasis Dream, looking as if he might be tackled by Moore and Kid Suitor with a furlong to run but keeping something up his sleeve and quickening away again to finish four lengths clear.

Grey Mirage had two quiet runs as a juvenile before winning on his reappearance at Kempton late last month.

“Marco has been very lucky for’me, and I have been very lucky for him. He puts’me up now and again, and I’m very pleased for the opportunity,” De Sousa said.

Botti’s assistant, Mario Baratti, said: “He shows ability at home but we thought it was a tough race. He loved the ground. I know the trainer had some ideas about where to go next, but he wanted to see how he ran here first.”

(Corrected repetition amending name of race in first par) Penitent continued his excellent start for trainer David O’Meara by claiming bet365 Mile under Daniel Tudhope.

The six-year-old was snapped up for 40,000 guineas by Middleham Park Racing out of William Haggas’ yard last October, and is now two from two for his new connections.

The 5-1 chance had beaten the reopposing Questioning in the Doncaster Mile at the start of the month and he once again emerged as the chief danger.

The two of them settled down to fight out inside the final furlong and it was Penitent who won the argument by a length and three-quarters.

Questioning, who beat multiple Group One winner Twice Over in the Earl of Sefton Stakes last week, once again performed with credit.

Hot favourite Famous Name was making his first ever start in Britain for Dermot Weld but was well beaten in third.

Tudhope said: "This is one of my best wins. He goes in this ground and we thought he had every chance.

"He won well at Doncaster and things have panned out well for him.

"The change of scenery has done him the world of good."

Middleham Park’s Nick Bradley said: "He’s over his problems and we don’t think he’s just a soft ground horse.

"This looked a winnable race and David has done a fantastic job with him.

"I’d love to take on Frankel, but I might change my mind tomorrow!

"He’s in a race at Ascot next week, but he’s had a hard enough season already and we might look at some options at Royal Ascot."

Questioning’s trainer, John Gosden, said: "The ground wasn’t ideal. It’s not soft, it’s heavy.

"It’s back to the Doncaster Mile form when there was nothing between the two horses."

Weld said of Famous Name: "He’s won 10 times at Leopardstown, I know he won once there when it was testing, but usually it’s much quicker.

"It was a solid run in the circumstances and we may well end up going back to Leopardstown."

There was another powerful performance from the front as Mikael Barzalona and Samba King (11-2) dotted up in the bet365.com Handicap.

Mahmood Al Zarooni’s Yarmouth winner was pressed from all sides but ended drawing four lengths clear of Little Dutch Girl.

Al Zarooni’s representative, Chris Connett, said: "It was on the soft side when he won at Yarmouth and he seemed to love the conditions."

The Casino At bet365.com Conditions Stakes was reduced to a walkover because of two withdrawals, giving Kirsty Milczarek the easiest possible first winner since her return to the saddle.

View the original article over at Sporting Life

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