Karl Burke believes Elite Status has the potential to be a ‘superstar’ of the sprinting ranks after he booked his ticket to Royal Ascot when maintaining his unbeaten in commanding style in the Racehorse Lotto National Stakes at Sandown Park on Thursday evening.
Arriving on the back of an impressive debut victory at Doncaster 19 days ago the Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum-owned colt added to that win when turning the Listed five-furlong dash into a procession under Clifford Lee.
Sent off in pursuit of early leader Blue Storm around two furlongs from home the 5-2 favourite put the race to bed in a matter of strides before crossing the line five lengths clear of stablemate World Of Darcy.
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Victory in the race for Elite Status not only saw him follow in the hoofprints of his sire Havana Grey, who claimed the 2017 renewal of the race, but it also provided triumphant trainer Burke with his first winner at the course in more than five years.
Burke said: “I think he is a very good horse. He has the potential to be a superstar sprinter and he has got the scope as well. He is a long way from wound up.
“He does things nice and easy at home and we haven’t forced him at all. He will improve again on this and he will now go for the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot now.
“I’ve not watched a replay but it looked very easy. I thought Clifford made a great move after a furlong. I was worried about the horses on his outside coming over and boxing him in. I didn’t want that.
“I wanted it nice and simple as he a lovely horse with a big stride. It was lot quicker ground than Doncaster so we were a bit weary he might be a bit green and a bit outpaced early.
“Clifford did exactly the right thing after a furlong or so and switched out and got a lovely clear passage.
“We know Wesley Ward will come over with some rockets but this fellow will stay very well. He will love that track.
“It is a great for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid (Al Maktoum, owner) as well.”
As regards to similarities between Elite Status, who was made 2-1 favourite for the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot by Paddy Power, and his sire Havana Grey the Leyburn handler believes that they both share two things in common.
He added: “No disrespect to Havana Grey as a racehorse but I think this fella has the potential to be a better racehorse. Havana Grey is a superstar stallion and has winners every day.
“Havana Grey had a great mind and this fella has as well. The only time you have to watch him is if you went in the box when there was feed in the manger as he doesn’t like being disturbed from his food and that was exactly the same with Havana Grey.
“This fella has a lot more scope than Havana Grey.”
While World Of Darcy proved no match his stablemate a trip to the Royal meeting is also now on the agenda according to Burke.
He added: “I was rushing through the stands and I didn’t realise we were second until I looked up at the screen. He is a good solid horse and he will be winning plenty of races. He will probably go for the Windsor Castle.”
Silastar calmed any nerves trainer Gary Moore had of him being able to handle a quicker surface following his victory in testing conditions last time out at Leicester when landing the opening Be Lucky With The Racehorse Lotto Handicap by a length and three quarters.
Moore said of the successful 6-4 favourite: “They went a good pace which helped him a little bit as it just helped him settle. Luckily, the gaps came for him.
“I started to get a bit nervous when they changed the going to good to firm as it was a bog when he won at Leicester. That stiff mile and a quarter really suited him.”
Roberto Escobarr justified 7-5 favouritism as he put up a courageous performance to win the Group Three Racehorse Lotto Henry II Stakes over two miles.
Partnered by Richard Kingscote, the six year old Galileo gelding raced in second place for the first two furlongs as Nate The Great made the early running. Taking the lead after the first quarter mile, Roberto Escobarr saw off the challenges of all the other four runners to score by a neck from Nate The Great.
Richard Knight, representing the winning owner Hussain Alabbas Lootah, said: “He was off for a lot of last year. We brought him back this year hoping he would qualify for All-Weather Finals Day but he was just a little bit rusty in that race and he finished third.
“We have just been waiting for this quicker ground. He wants good, good to firm ground and he is slightly unexposed over the two miles.
“It is lovely for him to win his Group race. His brother Pablo Escobarr won his Group race as well. We are delighted. He is as genuine as anything and Richard (Kingscote) said he was relaxed in front and was very comfortable travelling around there and he has stuck his head down and fought to the line which is fantastic.
“We hadn’t really discussed any further than today. We are slightly ground dependent. We will get him out of this and I will have a chat with William (Haggas, trainer) and Mr Lootah and we will make a plan.
“At his age, how much is he going to improve I’m not sure but he is still a horse who is slightly unexposed at the distance and he is genuine as anything. We were more positive today than we have ever been and those tactics worked well.”
It was a second success in the Henry II Stakes for jockey Richard Kingscote after Brown Panther (2014).
Indemnify (17-2) enhanced his prospects of a potential trip to Royal Ascot next month after making what trainer Roger Varian described as a ‘smart start’ to the season with victory on his annual return in the Racehorse Lotto Whitsun Cup Handicap at Sandown Park this evening.
One of two runners in the race for the Newmarket handler alongside Yaanaas the gelded son of Lope De Vega upstaged his better fancied stablemate on his return to a mile when running out a length and a half winner under Ray Dawson.
Following the race Varian hinted that a tilt at the Royal Hunt Cup could be on the agenda should Indemnify creep in at the foot of the weights.
Varian said: “They both came here with a chance and they are both lovely horses for the summer ahead. Yaanaas didn’t get much luck tonight but he will be a lovely horse he just needs things to fall right for him.
“It was a combination of the soft ground and the trip (one mile one furlong) was too far as to why he was beaten like he was on his last start. He is very much a miler and he has loads of pace.
“He could be a Hunt Cup horse but he has only won off 87 tonight. He will get six pounds for that I imagine which would put him on 93 so he might sneak into the bottom of the weights for that.
“For him it is not all about Royal Ascot. He is a horse to build a bit of a profile over the summer. I’m delighted he has got off a smart start tonight and we will see what the summer has in hold for him.”
Feelings of frustration turned into ones of joy for connections of Greek Order (2-1 favourite) who finally opened his account at the fourth time of asking on his first attempt over a mile when prevailing by a length in the concluding Get Your Racehorse Lotto Tickets Now Handicap.
Harry Charlton, who trains the Kingman colt with his dad Roger, said: “I thought he was going to win all of his previous three races but we’ve got there today.
“I think a bit of pace in a competitive race has helped him. It was a bit messy and he was bumped early and he was still a bit green when he got there. Ryan (Moore) said he still felt like he was going through the motions.
“I don’t think he will get into another at Royal Ascot so we will just take another step somewhere else with him.
“He has got the physique and talent but we have not seen it all yet.”
The victory completed the concluding leg of a 6.5-1 double for Classic-winning rider Moore who was also triumphant aboard Silastar (6-4) for his dad Gary Moore in the opening Be Lucky With The Racehorse Lotto Handicap.
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