Team heads into July with a double
By John Scanlon
Johnston Racing’s July campaign started with a bang, thanks to an across-the-card juvenile double recorded at Musselburgh and Kempton on July 1.
The double was initiated when Kingsley Park 16’s Night Moment ran out the impressive winner of a maiden auction event at Musselburgh. The son of Amaron made all under Joe Fanning to win by an impressive seven lengths. Night Moment was having his third start. He finished second on both his previous outings, at Kempton and Chelmsford.
Amaron stands at Gestut Etzean in Germany. He is a son of Shamardal who won multiple Group races, including Group 1 success at three in Italy.
The second leg of the double was provided by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed’s Basilicata, an Iffraaj filly.
On debut at Goodwood on June 15, this filly made a bold bid to land a fillies’ novice event over seven furlongs. Having led from flagfall, she was headed by Feathers inside the final furlong, but kept on well only to lose out to that rival by a short head.
At Kempton, in a similar event, Basilicata faced six rivals, including the Godolphin-owned pair Gold Wing, the market leader, and Sarsaparilla. William Buick took the ride.
Showing distinct signs of greenness, the filly swerved left at the start but recovered well to lead in the early stages. After about a furlong, she jinked to her left, giving Sarsaparilla a bump. However, once into the bend, Basilicata travelled much more smoothly.
Turning for home, Basilicata was at the head of affairs as Sarsaparilla ranged up to challenge. Finding more for Buick, the filly kept on strongly to see off that rival, and at the post she won by two lengths from Sarsaparilla, with Iconic Queen staying on well to finish half a length back in third.
“She was a little bit green, but knuckled down well,” winning jockey William Buick said after the race. “She’s still learning on the job, and I expect her to improve and sharpen up a bit.”
Basilicata is out of the Pivotal mare, Policoro, a three-year-old winner over 11 furlongs for Andre Fabre. That makes her a half-sister to the German Listed winner, Firebird Song (by Invincible Spirit).
The stable enjoyed a high profile double on Derby Day, July 4. First into action at Haydock Park was Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed’s Dubai Fountain.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed’s Teofilo filly made a winning debut at Doncaster on June 14, defeating Roger Varian’s subsequent winner, She Do, in a seven furlong maiden fillies’ stakes.
At Haydock, Dubai Fountain was again racing over seven furlongs in a fillies’ novice event, but the ground was very much on the soft side. Dubai Fountain faced just three rivals, but they included Golden Melody, who was successful at Haydock over six furlongs on debut, before running seventh in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot. William Haggas’ filly was sent off favourite.
Partnered by PJ McDonald, Dubai Fountain set out to make all the running, closely tracked by Golden Melody. Two furlongs from home, the leaders were pushed along by their respective jockeys. Dubai Fountain responded positively, and went clear with a furlong to run. Golden Melody, on the other hand, weakened quickly, allowing Amasova and Galah to fill the minor placings. At the winning post, Dubai Fountain had won by an impressive eight and a half lengths.
In winning impressively, Dubai Fountain looked ready to step up to a mile. Her dam, the Dubawi mare, Nufara, did her winning over an extended mile as a juvenile, but stayed a mile and a half well. Teofilo, as we all know, was an unbeaten champion juvenile and raced only at two, but at Kingsley Park we have seen his Permian and Mildenberger excel over a decent trip.
Over at Epsom, Sky Defender completed the across-the-card double when he produced a decent turn of foot to land a valuable handicap over a mile and a quarter.
A winner twice on the all-weather in the early part of the year, Hamad Rashed Bin Ghedayer’s Farhh colt, now a four-year-old, had had two starts since the resumption of racing. After following home West End Charmer at Newmarket, on his first turf start for over a year, he attempted to make all in a decent Doncaster handicap, weakening into fourth in the closing stages.
At Epsom, Sky Defender faced 12 rivals including the highly-rated Tinandali and Caradoc. Joe Fanning took the ride.
Having led early, Sky Defender settled in third for Joe Fanning, tracking Mr Scaramanga and Johnny Drama. Approaching the three-furlong marker, Joe asked the Farhh colt to go for a gap between the two leaders. It was a move which settled the outcome, as once alongside Mr Scaramanga, Sky Defender shot clear and looked to be four lengths clear of his field.
As Breath Caught and Tinandali stayed on best of the rest, Sky Defender was always doing enough. At the line, Sky Defender won by three-quarters of a length from Breath Caught, with Tinandali a length and three-quarters back in third.
This was a fifth career success and one which will see the Farhh colt’s rating rise above 100. Sky Defender has already won over a mile and a half, and it maybe connections will wish to tilt at another valuable handicap before setting their cap at some black type.
In a race reduced to a match when Diamondonthehill broke out of the starting stalls, March Law opened his winning account in an Ayr novice event on June 6.
The juvenile Lawman colt, owned by Susan and John Waterworth, made his debut at Haydock on June 9, finishing fourth of eight. He built on that experience with a super run in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, where he chased home the winner, Battleground, after making most of the running.
At Ayr, three went to post for the seven furlong novice event. Having been loaded into the stalls before March Law, Diamondonthehill became upset and broke out of the front of the stalls before completing almost a circuit of the Craigie course. This reduced the race to a match between March Law and the once-raced Summa Peto.
March Law set out to make the running under Joe Fanning, tracked by Summa Peto ridden by Ben Curtis. The challenger refused to lie down, and as the two horses battled closely throughout the last half furlong, it turned out to be a close run thing, and an excellent race for a match. March Law just prevailed, the distance being a short head.
A full-brother to the Group 3 Prix Thomas Bryon winner US Law, March Law is a half-brother to the double Group 3 winner Frankuus (by Frankel), who was trained by Mark to win the Prix de Conde and Rose of Lancaster Stakes.
At Leicester on July 7, Mountain Brave secured her third win of the year in the fillies’ handicap over six furlongs.
The Sepoy filly, owned by East Layton Stud and James Lambert, scored twice earlier in the year at Wolverhampton and Newcastle. She made her racecourse return after lockdown at Haydock on June 9, when she just lost out to Breath of Joy in a seven furlong handicap.
Raised 1lb after that run, but dropped in trip to six furlongs, Mountain Brave faced six opponents at Leicester. Ridden by Franny Norton, the Sepoy filly broke well from the stalls and was prominent throughout. Franny gradually brought her to race towards the stands’ rails, where Portugeseprincess had made most of the running.
Mountain Brave gradually got the better of that rival, always in control in the closing stages to score by a neck, with Sweet Pursuit finishing strongly in third, beaten a further length and a quarter.
Out of the Kyllachy mare, Plucky, a seven furlong maiden winner at Chepstow as a three-year-old, Mountain Brave is a half-sister to the multiple winners, Plucky Dip (Nayef), and Delft (Dutch Art).
Picture: March Law under Meg Warburton