Fabulous five-timer ends the month in style
By John Scanlon
Johnston Racing ended the month in flying form with a fabulous five-timer on Saturday, June 29, the highlight of which was a Listed success for Matterhorn in Windsor’s Midsummer Stakes.
Franny Norton had made the journey south to partner two runners for the yard at Windsor, and was first on to the scoresheet when Homespin landed the six-furlong novice event. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed’s Speightstown colt was having his third career start, having shown up well on his two previous outings.
A field of 13 went to post for the race. The debutant Kingsholm was well-supported in the market, and led the way in the early stages having been quickly away from the stalls. Franny was able to track the leader, with Homespin racing on his shoulder.
Sent into the lead with over a furlong to run, Homespin had to work hard as Hubert came with a burst to hit the front inside the final furlong. Staying on well, Homespin was driven into the lead again and at the post won by half a length from Hubert, with Good Earth a length and a half back in third.
Homespin is out of the AP Indy mare, Vaguely Familiar, an unraced half-sister to Questing, a dual Grade 1 winner in the States for Godolphin.
The Midsummer Stakes at Windsor was first run in 2004, when it was won by our own Gateman, ridden by Keith Dalgleish. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed’s Matterhorn became the second winner of the race for the stable with an impressive victory.
Since his runaway win in the Easter Classic at Lingfield, Matterhorn has been raced in smart company. A creditable second in the Group 2 Huxley Stakes at a soggy Chester, he finished third in the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown behind Regal Reality, and was far from disgraced when finishing 10th of 16 in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes on the first day of Royal Ascot.
The field at Windsor included last year’s winner of the race, Zhui Feng, and New Graduate, who had been well-fancied to land the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot. Franny Norton had the ride on Matterhorn and kept things beautifully simple on him, sending him to the front early on and asking him to make all the running.
Pursued by Zhui Feng and New Graduate, Matterhorn was happy to bowl along at the head of affairs. Ridden approaching the final furlong, he simply refused to be caught and won by two lengths and one and three-quarter lengths from New Graduate and Khafoo Shememi.
This was Matterhorn’s fifth win of the year and his eighth overall. The Raven’s Pass colt seems equally effective over a mile or ten furlongs and will surely be stepped up in class once more. It was interesting to note that his half-brother, Bangkok, by Australia, finished second in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot; clearly this is a talented family.
The winning streak wasn’t confined to Windsor, and the third winner of the day followed at Newcastle, where Francophilia landed a handicap over an extended mile and a half on the Northumberland Plate card.
Having lost her maiden tag at Lingfield in May, Kirsten Rausing’s Frankel filly added another success to her CV with a battling success on her first run over Newcastle’s Tapeta surface. A field of 10 went to post for this race, with Silvestre de Sousa taking the ride on Francophilia for the first time.
On settling down after the start, Snookered led the way pursued by Francophilia and Houlton. Shaken up to take the lead with just over a quarter of a mile left to race, Francophilia had to hold not only the effort of Houlton on her inner but also the late challenge of The Blues Master, a former Kingsley Park horse, who both finished well.
At the post, Francophilia had won by three-quarters of a length from The Blues Master, with Houlton a neck away in third. Given that Francophilia’s dam, Lady Jane Digby, won a Group 1 as a five-year-old there’s no reason to doubt that Francophila won’t continue to progress now she has found her way to the winning enclosure.
With Franny Norton required for Matterhorn at Windsor, it fell to Jack Mitchell to take the ride on Cape Islay at Chester. Happily it turned out to be a winning one as the Cape Cross filly scored a battling success in the handicap over an extended mile and a half.
Successful twice as a juvenile last year, the filly, owned by Nick Browne, Ian Boyce, Sue Frosell and Stevie Richards, contested the Lingfield Oaks Trial in May, where she weakened in the final furlong having led for much of the trip. Next time out at Haydock she again led, but found things tough in the heavy conditions and weakened in the closing stages.
Ground conditions were much more favourable at Chester, and Cape Islay was also tackling her elders for the first time. The outsider of the field, Overhaugh Street, was given a positive ride and made the running, pursued by Jack Mitchell on Cape Islay.
Turning for home, the pair were clear of the remainder, and Cape Islay got the better of a lengthy duel to score by half a length, with Paradise Boy a fairly distant third, three and three-quarter lengths in arrears.
This was a welcome return to winning form for the filly, who is the full sister of Emboss, who won a Listed race in Bremen as a four-year-old for Sheikh Mohammed and Henri-Alex Pantall.
To complete an excellent day not just for the yard but also for owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Key To Power recorded a battling win in a five furlong handicap at Lingfield.
The three-year-old Slade Power filly, for whom this was a third success of the year, did well to overcome the hindrance of being drawn in stall 1, and even better to repel the late challenge of Secretfact under a strong drive from jockey Connor Beasley.
After a great day which saw five winners notched up at four different racecourses, Deirdre Johnston paid tribute to the staff when posting on social media – #teamworkmakesthedreamwork.