Wathnan Racing declare two live chances at Newbury Racecourse

horses racing on grass

Qatari based, Wathnan Racing, have two live chances in Saturday’s Group 3 Watership Down Stud Too Darn Hot Greenham Stakes at Newbury Racecourse following declarations on Thursday, April 18th 2024. 

Ballymount Boy, trained by Adrian Keatley, will be ridden by Wathnan Racing retained jockey James Doyle and the Eve Johnson Houghton-trained Mister Sketch is set to be partnered by champion jockey William Buick. The Classic trial, run over seven furlongs with a total prize fund of £90,000, is the feature race of the Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials meeting. The race was full of drama in 2023 with favourite Chaldean unseating Frankie Dettori in the stalls before going on to 2000 Guineas success the following month. Frankel remains the last horse to have completed the Greenham-2000 Guineas double back in 2011. 

Mister Sketch is one of 11 declared for Saturday’s contest with ground conditions currently described as soft, good to soft in places. Last seen when finishing a close second to the Andrew Balding-trained Array in the Group 2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes, trainer Eve Johnson Houghton is pleased with how the son of Territories has developed over the winter:

“I was really pleased with him in the Mill Reef, the ground was much softer than we would have liked and he was a big and weak horse last year, only running three times. He has come on hugely physically and mentally over the winter, so I am very much looking forward to getting him out again this year. I do think the better the ground would be preferable; I’ve run him on soft through circumstance rather than choice.” 

A homebred by Norman Court Stud; he was privately purchased by Wathnan Racing following his impressive 9 ½ length victory in a Novice Stakes at Salisbury. Currently rated 101, he holds an entry in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas but a prep run was always on the agenda, Eve commented:

“It was always going to be the Greenham or we may have waited for Ascot for the Pavilion Stakes but we have decided to go seven furlongs, down the road at Newbury, we know he likes the track and we will see where we are after. He needs a prep run, he’s a big horse and needs to get the miles in his legs.” 

Mister Sketch has had three career starts, two of which were at Newbury and all over six furlongs, his seasonal reappearance on Saturday will test how he steps up in trip for the first time which Eve is looking forward to: “He is bred to be a sprinter but looks like a miler. I think we will find out where we are going with him over seven furlongs, it will be exciting to see.” 

The runner up to the unbeaten and dual Group 1 winner Vandeek in the Group 2 Markel Richmond Stakes, Ballymount Boy is the other representative of Wathnan Racing. Last seen when winning the Listed Doncaster Stakes in October, the son of Camacho who will be having his first run of the season, holds entries in both the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas.

Other notable runners amongst those declared include Zoum Zoum (R. Beckett) who bids to extend his unbeaten record under jockey Rob Hornby. The winner of three starts over seven furlongs last season, he was last seen when landing a comfortable victory in the Listed Prix Herod at Saint-Cloud. 

Army Ethos, trained by Archie Watson, is one of three runners in the race who will be having their second start of the year. The runner up to River Tiber in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, the son of Shalaa was beaten when sent off 2/9 favourite in a Class 5 Novice Stakes at Newcastle on his first run this year. Trained by Kevin Ryan, Room Service, who was last seen when winning the £300,000 2-Y-O Stakes at Doncaster also remains in contention. 

Saturday’s card also features the Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Stakes (The Fred Darling Stakes) and the Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes (The John Porter Stakes). Six runners have been declared in the Fred Darling Stakes including 2023 Weatherbys Super Sprint winner Relief Rally (W. Haggas) who will be stepping up to seven furlongs for the first time under regular rider Tom Marquand. 

Regal Jubilee will represent the yard of John and Thady Gosden. The winner of two of her three career starts, the daughter of Frankel will be dropped back in trip following her last run when winning the Listed Montrose Fillies’ Stakes over one mile for owners Cheveley Park Stud. Folgaria is an interesting contender for Marco Botti who is having her first run for the yard. Currently unbeaten, all her previous form is in Italy when trained by Stefano Botti, including her latest victory in the Group 2 Premio Dormello over one mile. 

Last year’s Group 3 BetVictor Geoffrey Freer Stakes winner, Arrest (J & T. Gosden), is one of ten declared in the Group 3 John Porter Stakes. The runner-up in the 2023 Betfred St Leger, Arrest will be ridden by Kieran Shoemark for the first time. Soft ground lover, Hamish, will be seeking a fifth consecutive victory for trainer William Haggas. Hamish beat Al Qareem (K. Burke) on his last start in the Group 3 Betfred St Simon Stakes who will be looking to reverse the form on Saturday.

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