/ Racing

Royal Empire impresses on step up in tripGeoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury

Updated: Saturday, 17 Aug 2013 21:43 | Comments

Royal Empire (blue silks) provided Saeed bin Suroor and Kieren Fallon with their second wins in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes
Royal Empire (blue silks) provided Saeed bin Suroor and Kieren Fallon with their second wins in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes

Godolphin have another live contender for the Emirates Melbourne Cup after Royal Empire displayed the right credentials in the Betfred TV Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury.

The Group Three represented a considerable step up in distance for the son of Teofilo, who was tackling an extra three furlongs in this stayers' event over just shy of a mile and three-quarters.

Royal Empire (8-1) had demonstrated a liking for the Berkshire course when reappearing after a Dubai Carnival campaign by winning a Listed event last month and he surged through to the front halfway down the home straight under Kieren Fallon and immediately put a seal on proceedings.

Sheikh Mohammed's team have sent out three seconds in November's southern hemisphere highlight, and Royal Empire finished a length and a half clear of the 2011 Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux.

Royal Empire's companion from the Saeed bin Suroor stable, Lost In The Moment, took third.

Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said of the winner: "I'm very pleased, and we'll just have to hope he goes up a few pounds so he qualifies for the Melbourne Cup.

"He won this off 112 and it's difficult to get in to the Melbourne Cup off less than 115. He'll have a couple more runs before then, but I'm not sure where."

An impressed Fallon said: "This fellow has got a lot of improvement in him and he can go on from here. He'll be a much better on horse on better ground."

George Peckham, assistant trainer to Ed Dunlop, said of Red Cadeaux: "It's great to see him back to his best and the weight just beat him.

"The plan is to go into quarantine for Australia and start off in the Caulfield Cup."

Soft Falling Rain lost his seven-race unbeaten record accrued in South Africa and Dubai to John Gosden's reliable Gregorian (3-1) in the Group Two Betfred Hungerford Stakes.

Paul Hanagan bravely took up the running on Soft Falling Rain but Rab Havlin had the advantageous near-side rail in his favour and Gregorian had the 9-4 favourite's measure by a length and a half.

With stable jockey William Buick and Gosden both overseas, this was a cherished prize for Scotsman Havlin, who was partnering a gelding who was third in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot.

"He's had a few near-misses at the top level so the ability has always been there," Havlin said.

"I had a nice, handy lead and he showed a good turn of foot.”

Mike de Kock said of Soft Falling Rain: "He's been beaten by a Group One horse. He's been off the track for 140 days so I have to be chuffed with him.

"Looking at that, he wants a mile and I'll have to discuss plans with the owner."

The Denford Stud Stakes has a rich history of introducing future stars like Lammtarra, Rodrigo De Triano, Just The Judge and even Brigadier Gerard many moons ago.

This year's budding champion was rumoured to be Godolphin newcomer Be Ready, but this was without reckoning upon Mark Johnston's Somewhat, who was second in a Newmarket Group Two last time and readily extended four and a half lengths ahead of the debutant.

The trainer's wife, Deirdre, who had flown back from the Deauville sales accompanied by jockey Gerald Mosse, said of the 11-8 favourite: "I was just delighted with the way he did it - he was very professional.

"He's been running on firm ground and we wondered if the give in the ground would help him.

"We'll discuss it with the owner, but he is in the Royal Lodge (Newmarket, 28 September) - we feel he wants a mile."

Olly Stevens continues to make a fine impression in his first season and he struck again with newcomer Lightning Thunder (7-1) in the Betfred-sponsored EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes.

The trainer's wife, Hetta, said of the Fillies' Mile entry: "She's not 100% straight but it was a good start.

"We'll get the programme book out, I'd imagine, but she's a nice filly who deserves to go to the big tracks."

Glen Moss (5-2 favourite) was a class apart under Johnny Murtagh in the Betfred Mobile Sports Ladies Day Handicap, while Gosden and Havlin doubled their tally with 9-4 favourite Thomas Hobson in the Betfred Watch Fred's Pushes On Betfred TV Handicap.

Hi Note (7-2) heralded the arrival of Meat Loaf's post-race concert by taking the Betfred "Treble Odds On Lucky 15's" Ladies Derby Handicap.

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