By John Scanlon
The Zetland Gold Cup is one of Redcar’s principal races of the season, and Forest Falcon gave Johnston Racing its third win in the race in the last seven years with a thrilling display on June 2.
The race, run over a mile and a quarter, was established in 1950 and has been won by some decent handicappers over the years, including the likes of Eradicate, River North and Al Muffrih.
Forest Falcon has run consistently well this year. The winner of his last two starts as a three-year-old in 2021, the Raven’s Pass gelding was raised to a mark of 90 then and has raced off that mark on all five of his races this term.
Forest Falcon broke smartly under Joe Fanning and raced on the outside of the early leader, Cockalorum. Sent into the lead after three furlongs, the gelding opened up a gap of a couple of lengths on the field which he maintained until well into the straight.
Stay Well briefly threatened to close the gap in the closing stages, but Forest Falcon found more and went clear inside the final furlong to score by two lengths.
After three times coming second, the Dark Angel filly, Mackenzie Rose, opened her winning account at the tenth time of asking at Doncaster on June 3 for owner Mrs Susan Rowett. The filly, one of eight three-year-olds contesting the 10-furlong handicap, was ridden by Oli Stammers.
He settled her towards the rear of the field, racing on the inside rail. Turning for home, the leader, Grey Belle, headed for the centre of the track while Mackenzie Rose moved to the far rail. Hitting the front with a quarter of a mile to race, Mackenzie Rose pulled clear of her field and won by three and three-quarter lengths from They Don’t Know.
Mackenzie Rose is well-related. She is a full sister of the prolific Sovereign Debt, whose 15 wins included the Group 2 bet365 Mile at Sandown, and of Sorelle Delle Rose, a winner of three races in Ireland.
At Musselburgh on June 4, Explicit turned in a decent display in landing a valuable juvenile seller over five furlongs. From the first crop of the Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Expert Eye, Alan Spence’s Explicit had finished second in two of his first three races.
A field of six went to post for the Musselburgh race which was worth more than £10k to the winner. Andrew Mullen took the ride. Smartly away from the stalls, Explicit was able to cross to the rail and travelled strongly in the lead throughout. Cuban Rock was switched right in the closing stages to launch a challenge, but Explicit held on gamely to score by a neck.
Purchased for 30,000gns as part of Book 2 of Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, Explicit is out of the Green Tune mare, Pontenuovo, who won the Group 3 Prix de Cabourg over six furlongs at Deauville as a juvenile. Connections went to £26,000 to retain the colt at the post-race auction, a decision which was to pay dividends later in the month.
At Musselburgh on June 5, Finn’s Charm quite literally ran away with the restricted maiden to score at the second time of asking. Dr Jim Walker’s Kingman colt made a promising debut at Yarmouth in May, making most of the running before being edged out by two promising types in the closing stages.
Stepping up from six to seven furlongs at the East Lothian track, Finn’s Charm faced four other juveniles and was drawn on the inside. Joe Fanning took the ride.
Breaking well, Finn’s Charm made all the running, travelling strongly at the head of affairs. In control throughout, Finn’s Charm pulled away in the final furlong, and despite being eased in the closing stages, he scored by eight and a half lengths from Hour By Hour.
June 11 saw a yard double, kicked off by Soapy Stevens, who has run consistently well this season and deservedly landed a valuable Chester handicap in the capable hands of Franny Norton.
Jim Duggan and Scott Brown’s Harzand gelding won on his only previous start at Chester, and on returning to the Roodee was attempting a trip of two miles for the first time.
Always poised to challenge the leader, Soapy Stevens was sent for home off the final bend and soon opened a gap on his rivals. Keeping on well, the gelding resisted the late challenge of Alfred Boucher to score by a length and a half.
Soapy Stevens is out of the Dubawi mare, Zubova, a dual winner over a mile. He is a half-brother to three winners, including the prolific Peachey Carnahan (by Foxwedge), who scored no fewer than 13 times.
At Leicester, the juvenile Lion Of War made an exciting and successful debut in a seven-furlong maiden. Owned by Qatar Racing Limited, Lion Of War is by the ill-fated Roaring Lion, who won the Eclipse, the Juddmonte International, the Irish Champion Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
The colt was one of 11 runners in this restricted maiden race and was partnered by Cieren Fallon. Racing towards the rear and on the outside of the field in the early stages, he made good progress to burst into the lead on the outer with more than a furlong to run and won by two and a quarter lengths from Zara’s Return.
Not only did Lion Of War provide his sire with a first winner from his sole crop, but he was also a first winner for his dam, the Montjeu mare, Momentus.
Swift Lioness made a winning debut on June 13 at Lingfield Park, where Jaber Abdullah’s Roaring Lion filly was one of 10 fillies to go to post for a restricted novice stakes over seven furlongs. Joe Fanning took the ride on the filly, who was purchased by Johnston Racing for €30,000 at Goffs Orby Yearling Sale.
The filly broke a little slowly from the stalls and was immediately tightened up by the fillies on either side of her in her early strides. Shuffled to the outside of the field, Swift Lioness was forced to travel four or five horse width’s wide of the rail until Joe was able to make a forward move.
Fortunately, the filly wasn’t held back by having to race wide and, keeping on well for Joe in the closing stages, she eased to a neck success over Ipanema Princess.
An authoritative Dear My Friend followed up his debut win at Carlisle when scoring again at Beverley on June 14. Penalised 6lb for his Carlisle success in May over six furlongs, he was one of 10 runners in a restricted novice event over an extended seven furlongs at The Westwood.
Owned by Middleham Park Racing XXV and Michael Lai, the Pivotal colt broke well under Franny Norton and disputed the early pace with Sol Cayo on his inner. Taking a keen hold, the colt was able to cross into the lead and travelled strongly throughout.
He came home unchallenged, and while eased in the final half furlong he was still five lengths clear of Sol Cayo at the post.
It was a case of third time lucky for True Statesman who opened his winning account under John Egan at Chelmsford on June 16. The Churchill colt, bought by Johnston Racing for 25,000gns as part of Book 2 of Tattersalls October Yearling Sale last year, is owned in partnership by Jane Newett and Dougie Livingston.
Stepping up in trip to six furlongs for the first time, he faced six fellow juveniles in a restricted maiden event. He travelled in third on the rail until turning for home when John sent him into the lead on the inside.
He pulled clear of the field to score by three and a quarter lengths from Ana Hadi. True Statesman is out of the Danehill Dancer mare, True Verdict, who won over six furlongs and finished second in the Group 3 Grangecon Stud Stakes at the Curragh as a juvenile.
Killybegs Warrior became the latest of our juveniles to impress on debut with an encouraging win at the July Course in Newmarket on June 17. Mick Doyle’s Saxon Warrior colt gave his freshman sire a second success when upsetting the long odds-on favourite in the seven-furlong restricted maiden.
A €50,000 purchase by Johnston Racing at Goffs Orby Yearling Sale last autumn, Killybegs Warrior was ridden by Mickael Barzalona. A little slow into his stride he was allowed to find his rhythm and joined the favourite Self Praise at halfway as both travelled strongly.
Meeting the rising ground, Killybegs Warrior proved the stronger, as he kept on well to defeat Self Praise by a length and a half, with the third, Hurricane Kiko, five and a half lengths in arrears.
Dornoch Castle made a highly impressive debut at Haydock on June 18, landing a juvenile novice event in fine style. The Gleneagles colt, a late February foal owned by John Brown and Megan Dennis, was acquired by Mark and Charlie for €30,000 at Goffs Sportsman’s Yearlings Sale last October.
Making his debut in a seven-furlong restricted novice event which had attracted a field of eight runners, Dornoch Castle was partnered by Cieren Fallon and was drawn close to the rail. Smartly away from the stalls, Dornoch Castle set off to make all the running.
Shaken up with two furlongs to run, Dornoch Castle pulled clear of his field and despite being eased close home, he crossed the winning line three and three-quarter lengths ahead of Coco Jack, the pair fully eight lengths clear of Spioradalta in third.
At Pontefract on June 19, Enfranchise led home her stablemate Approachability to complete a Johnston Racing 1-2 in a valuable mile and a half handicap.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed’s Invincible Spirit filly, now a four-year-old, won twice on the all-weather at the start of the year. The regular mount of Andrew Breslin, the filly lined up at Pontefract on the back of three third placings on her last three starts. Brian Yeardley and partner’s Approachabilty was one of six other runners in the race, and that three-year-old was ridden by Joe Fanning.
Approachability defied his wide draw to take the lead early on, with Andrew Breslin settling Enfranchise on the rail, disputing second place. Turning for home, Approachability still held sway, but, trying the trip for the first time, Enfranchise found more in the closing stages to ease past her stablemate and won the race by a length and a quarter. Approachability held the late challenge of Haunted Dream to finish second by a head.
Building on the promise she showed at Chelmsford City on debut earlier in the month, Crackovia opened her winning account at Beverley on June 21. The Cracksman filly, owned by Jane Newett and Dougie Livingston, finished strongly at Chelmsford to take a close third in a restricted novice event over seven furlongs on June 7, and at Beverley she was racing over an additional 96 yards in a maiden fillies’ event.
Joe Fanning sent Crackovia into an immediate lead, pressed by Absolute Queen on her outer. Hitting the rising ground, Crackovia kept finding more for Joe, and at the post, she was two and a half lengths ahead of Emily’s Eclipse.
Crackovia is out of the Giant’s Causeway dam, Olvia. She raced only as a juvenile, winning two races in France and finishing runner-up in the Listed Prix Herod at Longchamp.
The promising Lion Of War turned in a remarkable performance in landing a restricted novice event at Newcastle on June 23 (pictured above), his second win of the month.
Qatar Racing Limited’s Roaring Lion colt, successful on his debut at Leicester on June 11, faced five rivals over seven furlongs at Gosforth Park.
As a result of that Leicester win, Lion of War had to concede weight all round and carried 9st 11lb. Cieren Fallon took the ride on the strapping colt. From the outset, Lion of War travelled strongly at the head of affairs and when shaken up with two furlongs to race he shot clear of his rivals, to the extent that his jockey was able to ease him down for more than half of the final furlong.
Despite that, Lion of War scored by a remarkable 10 lengths from Henzar. This was a visually stunning performance from a colt who seems to have tremendous potential. It’s hard to know what the opposition amounts to, but the way he sprinted clear of his rivals suggests that post-race mention of the Superlative Stakes by Charlie Johnston does not seem fanciful.
At Hamilton Park on June 23, Liv Lucky opened her winning account. The three-year-old Profitable filly, owned by Johnston Racing, produced a decent display to land the six-furlong handicap which closed the popular Saints and Sinners’ Meeting card.
Ridden by Oli Stammers, the three-year-old received a nice tow into the race by tracking Glen Lomond and Pasha Bay, both of whom disputed the lead on the outer in the early stages. Pushed along at the halfway mark, Liv Lucky was noted making good progress two furlongs from home and struck the front with just over a furlong to run.
Edging slightly left in the closing stages, Liv Lucky held on well to score by a neck and a head from Kilconquhar and Ella Dora respectively, both horses having raced prominently near the stands’ rail.
Under an excellent ride from Andrew Breslin, Devasboy pounced fast and late to land a Chester handicap on June 24. On his last outing prior to Chester, Deva Racing’s Ectot colt had finished well beaten at Hamilton over six furlongs. The three-year-old, twice a winner over seven furlongs, stepped back up in trip to an extended seven and a half furlongs on the Roodee.
Devasboy was held up at the rear of the field by Andrew until the closing stages when he sent Devasboy for home and the colt swept past Manaslu and Golden Sands to take the lead and went on to score by a length and a nose from those rivals.
Devasboy is out of the Verglas mare, Belliflore, who won twice at Chantilly and was a close second in the Prix du Palais Royal (Group 3) at Longchamp at four.
It would be hard to make a more positive impression on a debut than that made by Ferrari Queen when landing a maiden fillies’ stakes over seven furlongs at Doncaster on June 25.
Jaber Abdullah’s Decorated Knight filly faced five rivals, with David Egan aboard, and was up with the leaders in the early stages. When asked for her effort she responded immediately, moving through the gears and stretching clear of her field with a furlong and a half to run.
Kept up to her work in the closing stages, she scored by six lengths from Exposed. David pointed out that she was very green in the preliminaries and had been looking around on the way to post. Given that, he felt the filly’s performance deserved to be marked up still further.
A February foal, Ferrari Queen was another excellent buy by Johnston Racing, having been acquired at Goffs Orby Yearling Sale for €18,000 last September.
The final winner of the yard’s June campaign came at Epsom on June 30, when Benacre landed the seven-furlong maiden.
Susan and John Waterworth’s Australia colt, an April foal and a full-brother to the Listed-placed Almania, was making his debut at Epsom and faced five rivals, including Self Praise, who chased home our own Killybegs Warrior at Newmarket on June 17.
Ridden by Franny Norton, Benacre wasn’t particularly fast to break. However, Franny sent him into the lead on the inner, pursued by Foinix. Keeping on well in the straight, he held on to win nicely from the fast-finishing Self Praise.