/ Racing

Soft Falling Rain strikes at Newmarket

Updated: Friday, 27 Sep 2013 18:54 | Comments

Soft Falling Rain is scheduled to make his next start in the QEII at Ascot
Soft Falling Rain is scheduled to make his next start in the QEII at Ascot

South African maestro Mike de Kock is looking forward to seeing Soft Falling Rain line up alongside the elite on Champions Day at Ascot next month after the exciting colt regained winning ways at Newmarket.

Carrying the familiar colours of Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, Soft Falling Rain was imperious in his homeland and further enhanced his growing reputation at the Dubai Carnival at Meydan.

He suffered the first defeat of his career on his British debut in the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury last month, but was a 13-8 favourite for his latest Group Two assignment in the Nayef Joel Stakes.

Racing enthusiastically in the hands of Paul Hanagan, the market leader swept to the lead with two furlongs to run and held off the talented Montiridge, who was bouncing back from a lifeless run at Haydock, by three and a half lengths.

Next up for the winner is the Qipco-sponsored Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on 19 October, and his trainer is confident he can make his mark at the highest level.

De Kock said: "I'm very proud. We knew he'd improve a lot after his last run.

"He's a very, very capable horse. You'd like to believe he's a Group One horse and I think he showed that today.

"We're going to have a go at the mile on Champions Day (QEII), that is the dream."

The Aqlaam Oh So Sharp Stakes also went to Andre Fabre's French filly Miss France (7-2) as she claimed a cosy victory by a head.

The juvenile could contest next year's 1000 Guineas and Anthony Stroud, representing Ballymore Thoroughbred Ltd, said: "That will be up to Andre and the owners. She's a very nice filly and I don't think she'll run again this season."

Winning jockey Mickael Barzalona remarked: "She just has a lot of class - she's different class."

The newly-formed partnership of trainer Marco Botti and jockey Martin Harley received an early boost as Renew (9-4) took Listed honours in the Mawatheeq Godolphin Stakes.

Botti said: "I think the ground was too soft for him at Haydock last time, but he stays very well.

"That might be it for the year, because he won't get his ground, but hopefully he can run in Group races next year."

Richard Hannon's Zurigha (16-1) ran her best race since finishing fourth in the French 1000 Guineas in the spring by coming with a late rattle under Ryan Moore in the Shadwell International Stallions Rosemary Stakes.

Assistant trainer Richard Hannon jnr said: "Hopefully we'll find something else for her this year and she could be one for her owner to run at the Dubai Carnival in races like the Cape Verdi."

William Haggas' debutant Mitraad was a 16-1 winner of the Sakhee EBF Maiden Stakes.

Fellow Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned runner Baarez was wayward in second, with Haggas-trained 5-4 favourite Yuften third.

Michael Appleby's 14-1 shot Bancnuanaheireann claimed the Silver Cambridgeshire, the consolation race for Saturday's major handicap.

It was a chance ride for jockey Andrew Mullen, who was replacing the sidelined Kieren Fallon.

Appleby said: "I was gutted he didn't get in the Cambridgeshire, as that was the plan, but he's not a bad horse and I think he can win us a Listed race."

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