HQ Double

By John Scanlon

Initiating a double for the yard on the day, The Gatekeeper produced an excellent run to land a decent handicap at Newmarket on May 5.

After an absence from the track of almost two years, the four-year-old Excelebration gelding has been busy this Spring for his owners, Middleham Park Racing XIV. Successful on his seasonal debut at Newcastle in March, The Gatekeeper ran well in Doncaster’s Spring Mile and at Musselburgh in April despite an indifferent draw.

At Newmarket, The Gatekeeper faced seven experienced rivals in a seven furlong event for older horses, and was one of only two four-year-olds in the field. Andrea Atzeni took the ride.

Straight from the stalls, Atzeni sent The Gatekeeper into the lead, pursued by Bass Player and Lord Rapscallion. From there, The Gatekeeper was able to dominate the race, and, leading throughout, the gelding was able to find more when Star Of Orion threw down a challenge in the closing stages.

Drifting slightly to the right in the final furlong, The Gatekeeper kept on really strongly to score by a length from Star Of Orion, with Persuasion finished half a length away in third.

Winning jockey Andrea Atzeni was delighted at how the race worked out. ‘I knew he’d get the seven furlongs well,’ he told the Klarion. ‘He jumped and travelled well. The key was the ground really.’

‘Fair play to the owners,’ said Charlie Johnston after the race. ‘The Gatekeeper was a good two-year-old and then missed nearly two years with injury. His best furlong was his last and we’ll work back from the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.’

Out of the Montjeu mare, Cherry Creek, The Gatekeeper is a half-brother to Time Shanakill, by Lord Shanakill, a prolific winner in France and Italy, who won at distances up to a mile and a half at Listed level and who was Group 3-placed in the Premio Carlo d’Alessio at Capannelle.

Kingsley Park 35 – Ready To Run Partnership’s Outbreak thrilled partners with an impressive win on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile course . The gelding’s win sealed a Newmarket double on the day.

The four-year-old has been running well this term, landing a Lingfield handicap over a mile in late February. After two decent efforts on the all-weather, Outbreak ran well for a long way in a 0-100 handicap on the Rowley Mile on April 18, before fading in the closing stages.

Returning to Newmarket on May 5, Outbreak contested a 0-90 handicap over a mile and was one of ten horses who went to post for the race. Andrea Atzeni took the ride.

Unusually, the race was started by flag because of safety concerns due to the stormy conditions. Azano was quickly away under Danny Tudhope towards the far side of the track, and Andrea decided to track the leader, in the process getting a lovely tow into the race.

Noted making smooth progress on Azano’s outer two furlongs out, Outbreak hit the front soon after and kept on stylishly for Atzeni to score by a length and a quarter from the early leader. The front pair pulled almost five lengths clear of the third horse, Cabinet of Clowns, and recorded a time significantly faster than that recorded by the winner of the Group 2 bet365 Mile earlier on the card.

Surprisingly, the stewards enquired into what they regarded as an apparent improvement in Outbreak’s form here. Andrea Atzeni’s post-race comments seemed to sum it up. ‘Outbreak got into a good rhythm and was suited by the better ground today,’ explained the winning jockey.

The win saw Outbreak’s official rating jump up to 97 (he started the year on a mark of 78). All being well, partners can look forward to a trip to Royal Ascot to see the Dark Angel gelding run.


Picture: Outbreak’s connections


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