Doncaster review: Breathtaking Look wins opening contest

Frankie Dettori leaps from Stradivarius
Frankie Dettori leaps from Stradivarius

A review of Friday's action at Doncaster as Stradivarius claimed a 10th straight success with a cool performance in the Doncaster Cup.

Stradivarius smooth at silk in Cup stroll

Stradivarius secured his 10th successive victory with a dominant display in the Magners Rose Doncaster Cup.

John Gosden's five-year-old has completely dominated the staying division over the past couple of seasons - with back-to-back wins in the Yorkshire Cup, Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup seeing him scoop the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers' Million in both 2018 and 2019.

In the immediate aftermath of his latest triumph at York, connections suggested his next port of call would be next month's Long Distance Cup at Ascot - which he also won last season - but a late change of heart saw Gosden bring his charge to Town Moor.

With old foe Dee Ex Bee a late withdrawal, Stradivarius was the 1/9 favourite in the hands of regular partner Frankie Dettori and his legion of fans had few concerns for the duration of the two-and-a-quarter-mile contest.

After initially being left in front, Andrew Balding's Cleonte was sent on by Oisin Murphy heading out for the second circuit in an attempt to inject some pace in the race, and he was still going great guns rounding the turn for home.

However, once popped the question by Dettori, Stradivarius swiftly reeled in the leader and kicked clear for a comfortable one-and-three-quarter-length victory.

Cleonte boxed on admirably to fill the runner-up spot, with the Willie Mullins-trained Max Dynamite - runner-up to stablemate Thomas Hobson in last year's renewal - back in third.

Gosden said: "Frankie was right to go forward, then Oisin decided he wanted to make a race of it.

"He's a lovely horse. I had no intention of coming here, but he was so fresh, rearing up and shouting all the time, so I thought we'd come and win the Doncaster Cup - it hadn't been the plan, but Mr (Bjorn) Nielsen was very good about it.

"He's a gorgeous horse to train, but he was getting so playful at home - this was a five-day entry so I had to put him in. If you wait for Champions Day and it's heavy, he won't be running."

He went on: "I think Mr Nielsen's big plan, if the horse is happy and well, is to go to Ascot next year. He would love to win three Gold Cups. We'll try to do that if we can and we'll see what comes out of the Leger as potential challengers.

"He's had a much easier season this year than last. The race in the Gold Cup (last year) was mighty tough and he was a tired horse by the Lonsdale. This year he's a very fresh horse still.

"I think next year's it's Ascot Gold Cup and probably Goodwood Cup, and then we might worry about other options.

"I think he'd like to have a Sagaro, Yorkshire Cup - go that route again if the horse is in great order, then regroup, which would be a bit of fun."

Dettori - again in flying dismount form - said: "That's the easiest he's won - he's so great to ride, he relaxes, he quickens. Brilliant. It was a messy race, but we expected it to be like that.

"I tried to make the running, but as we got to the bend he was looking at everything. Oisin was running keen and I got a tow off him. We went slow, we sprinted the last three and a half (furlongs).

"He's got one more gear than the rest, so I used Oisin as a reference point - I gave him three or four lengths start because I knew once I passed him he thinks he's done enough.

"I used Oisin as tow to the furlong marker and said, 'come on let's put the race to bed', and he won really easily."

Before signing off, Gosden also had a word on his other stable star, the mighty Enable, who is being prepared for an attempt on a record-breaking third success in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

He said: "She's in great form. I couldn't be more pleased with her. She's in really good nick and we'll build her up to the Arc now."


Flying display from A'Ali

Royal Ascot hero A'Ali got back in the winning trail in the Wainwright Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster.

Simon Crisford's juvenile landed the Norfolk Stakes at the showpiece meeting in June and doubled his big-race tally in the Prix Robert Papin at Deauville on his next start.

He could finish only fifth when stepped up to six furlongs for the Prix Morny at Deauville last month, but looked more at home back over the minimum trip on Town Moor.

With Frankie Dettori in the saddle, the 6/4 chance was soon tracking the pacesetting Irish raider Wheels On Fire - and quickened up smartly in the last half-furlong to score by a length with something to spare.

Dream Shot finished strongly to pip Wheels On Fire to second.

York winner Alligator Alley was a heavily-supported even-money favourite for Joseph an Donnacha O'Brien, but was restless in the stalls and never really threatened to land a telling blow, finishing sixth of the seven runners.

A'Ali wins the Flying Childers Stakes
A'Ali wins the Flying Childers Stakes

Crisford said: "He won the Robert Papin over five and a half, but he's done so well over five. He's won the Norfolk and this race, so we will go to the Breeders' Cup.

"He travels superbly well in his races and he's got a change of pace. That's the key. He's an extremely easy horse to deal with. His attitude is excellent and he's very straightforward.

Frankie is unbeaten on him and he can't wait to get to California. A sharp five on quick ground at Santa Anita will play to his strengths. He was already 'win and you're in' from Ascot and he deserves to take his chance. There's nothing for him left.

"The Abbaye is out of the question and the Middle Park would stretch him too far, and it comes too soon anyway. Breeders' Cup it is."

Dettori said: "He won a Norfolk, he's got plenty of speed. I always thought good ground would suit him.

"The plan is to go to Santa Anita. He's a tendency to go left so it will really suit him."

York winner Alligator Alley was a heavily-supported even-money favourite for Joseph an Donnacha O'Brien, but was restless in the stalls and never really threatened to land a telling blow, finishing sixth of the seven runners.


Spencer and Lion tame rivals

Sleeping Lion came from last to first to claim top honours in the William Hill Mallard Handicap at Doncaster.

James Fanshawe's charge was a 4/1 shot in the hands of Jamie Spencer and was dropped out at the rear of the six-strong field for much of the extended one-mile-six-furlong contest.

Spencer coaxed his mount into a more prominent position entering the final two furlongs and was in front a furlong later.

Charles Kingsley briefly looked a threat late on, but Sleeping Lion found more once challenged and was ultimately well on top at the line - scoring a shade cosily by three-quarters of a length.

The disappointment of the race was Simon Crisford's hat-trick-seeking 2/1 favourite Saroog, who could finish only fifth.

Fanshawe said: "We were just getting a bit frustrated with him running in big handicaps. He didn't get in the Ebor, so we ran him in the two-mile race at York and he never got into it.

"Today with a smaller field and he was able to get a position. He likes to be held up, but he needs a bit of time to get rolling. He picked up in good time today.

"I'm not sure where we'll go with him. We'll see what the handicapper does. He's a really nice horse and he's shown it today."


Breathtaking start at 20/1 shot strikes

Breathtaking Look was a surprise winner of the Japan Racing Association Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster.

Despite having won a couple of handicaps on the July course at Newmarket earlier in the summer, the Stuart Williams-trained filly looked to have plenty on her plate stepping up to Group Three level - and was priced accordingly at 20/1.

However, Jim Crowley's mount was soon in front and had most of her rivals in trouble with a couple of furlongs still to run.

The James Fanshawe-trained Preening finished to good effect from further back in the field, but Breathtaking Look was never in serious danger of being caught and passed the post with a length in hand.

Mot Juste was just half a length further away in third, with Posted best of the rest in fourth.

Williams said: "We're pleased with her. We decided she'd won some decent handicaps this year and she was up in the 90s, so we thought we'd have a go at some black type.

"To be honest if there had been a seven-furlong Listed race somewhere for her I'd have run her in that, but I couldn't find one, so we decided to come here.

"She's been in good form and Jim rode her perfectly. Very pleased."

He added: "We've been really patient with her. I think she's quite a high-class filly and she'll improve again.

"We'll have a look and see what is available for her. I don't know at this stage if she'll stay in training next year or be retired. Her owner is a breeder.

"I think we'll run again before the end of the season, but she might not race next year."

In-form Crowley, who enjoyed a double on the opening day of the meeting, said: "We got an easy lead out in front. I started picking it up between the three and the two and I kept waiting for them to come and get me, and nothing did.

"She's done very well and has been consistent all season. It's nice to top it off that way.

"She's tough and got the job done."


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