/ Racing

Abseil downs Investec Mile rivals at Epsom

Updated: Friday, 06 Jun 2014 20:17 | Comments

Abseil could well prove to be the the quintessential Group horse masquerading as a handicapper
Abseil could well prove to be the the quintessential Group horse masquerading as a handicapper

Abseil appears to have earned his place among Michael Stoute's Royal Ascot squad after an authoritative victory in the Investec Mile at Epsom.

A winner at Yarmouth before finishing a slightly unfortunate second on his handicap debut at Chester a month ago, the four-year-old has been attracting support for the Royal Hunt Cup in recent days, suggesting a bold bid was anticipated on Oaks day.

Sent off the 5-2 favourite for what looked a competitive heat, Abseil was keen to get on with his job in the early stages, but was still full of running as he moved towards the front end two furlongs down.

Red Avenger and Velox tried to challenge on the far rail, while Llanarmon Lad finished with a wet sail down the outside of the field, but Abseil had enough in hand to hold on by half a length from the latter.

Owner Khalid Abdullah's racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe said: "He was quite gassy and he's still an inexperienced horse.

"He had a few injuries when he was younger, which stopped him, but hopefully he'll keep improving. The penalty he gets there should qualify him for the Royal Hunt Cup.

"He's got a Group One pedigree and we always have ambitions but we got held up with him early in his career so we'll just see how we go."

Abseil's victory was the second leg of a double on the afternoon for jockey James Doyle, having earlier guided the Roger Charlton-trained Thistle Bird to her second successive victory in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes.

Despite a disappointing showing in last month's Middleton Stakes at York, the six-year-old was a 7-2 shot for her return to Epsom and claimed the Group Three prize by a length from Odeliz.

Charlton said: "We went up to a mile and a quarter last year and that's what she'll do again, the same races and maybe the Pretty Polly in Ireland.

"What we really need to do is win a Group Two and/or a Group One, but to win a Group Two and get placed in another Group One would be fantastic.

"The Nassau at Goodwood and whatever we can find in America come into it. She's a lot more relaxed now, so I'd have no problems with travelling her."

Godolphin's well publicised decision to spread the net as far as jockeys are concerned paid dividends in the Diomed Stakes as Adam Kirby, not a regular rider for the Dubai-based operation, made it three wins from as many rides aboard French Navy.

The 13-2 shot displayed impressive acceleration to come from last to first and he was well on top at the line, beating favourite Graphic by two and a quarter lengths.

Winning trainer Charlie Appleby said: "It's great for the team to have winners when his Highness (Sheikh Mohammed) and Princess Haya are here.

"I was concerned that the ground was starting to dry out, but he's thriving this year.

"He handles this ground, but you'll see a better horse with a bit of cut."

Trainer Roger Varian and jockey Andrea Atzeni enjoyed a welcome boost ahead of Kingston Hill's Derby bid on Saturday as 13-2 shot Farraaj (13-2) secured his first victory on turf in getting on for three years with a smart display in the Investec Wealth & Investment Handicap.

Varian said: "It really suited him today, he's been crying out for a truly-run race and they went quick.

"He has a good turn of foot on his day and it shows the ground is drying out, as he'd like that.

"We were going to go for the Wolferton at Royal Ascot, but it depends how much he goes up (in the weights)."

David O'Meara's That Is The Spirit (5-4 favourite) made it three wins from as many starts in the Surrey Stakes, just holding off the challenge of main market rival Parbold by a nose.

O'Meara said: "This was the quickest ground he's run on and the best race he's been in, but he's done it again.

"He's still quite green and likes to get on with it. I'll have to talk to the owner about it, but the Jersey (at Royal Ascot) is an option, we'll see how he comes out of this."

The concluding Investec Asset Management Handicap also went back to Yorkshire as Mark Johnston's Almargo (7-1) turned in a dominant front-running performance under Silvestre de Sousa.

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