MARK JOHNSTON warmed up for his favourite meeting of the year, Glorious Goodwood, with a 33-1 winner of the International at Ascot last Saturday.
Heavy Metal was the horse in question, coming home under Joe Fanning who was delighted, saying: “From stall 15 I was always going to keep it simple up the middle, as the ground seems the same all over.
“I didn´t want to be in front so soon, but he was going so well I let him roll on. He was very good at two then lost his way at three.”
And Johnston got off to a flying start at Glorious Goodwood, as Sennockian Star took a thrilling bet365.com Handicap Stakes on Tuesday.
The Middleham maestro has a tremendous record on the Sussex Downs and saddled three runners in the opening event of this year’s Festival.
As is often the case with runners from the yard, all three were ridden positively in the mile-and-a-quarter contest, with Sennockian Star tracking stable companions Salutation and Busatto in the hands of Joe Fanning.
Salutation and Busatto briefly looked to have shaken off the field when striking clear over a furlong out, but both Sennockian Star and the fast-finishing Ajman Bridge came from out of the pack to challenge.
Ajman Bridge looked sure to collect having being produced with a withering run by William Buick, but Sennockian Star refused to be beaten and stuck on determinedly close to finish to take the spoils by half a length.
Salutation and Busatto were third and fourth respectively in a great result for Johnston, who said: “Before the race I said to my son Angus that a winner in the first would be great.
“As we were watching it, he said “we might get a one-twothree”
and I thought he was going to be right. It’s fantastic.
The horses are just buzzing up the gallops.
“I think two years ago we won the first as well and it’s a great relief to get one on the board.”
Fanning said: “They went a nice gallop up front. It suits this lad, he’s better getting a lead. Inside the final furlong I thought he’d get there.
“I thought he was at least 5lb or 6lb too high. I was proved wrong, so that’s good.”
On the downside, Paul Hanagan faces a spell on the sidelines after sustaining a hairline fracture to his lower left arm in a fall at Goodwood on Tuesday.
The former champion jockey had been enjoying a stellar season after winning the Investec Oaks and the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Taghrooda, as well as the Coral-Eclipse aboard Mukhadram.
Those three Group One wins came in the colours of his boss, Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.
Hanagan will, however, be hoping to be back in action towards the end of August, when Taghrooda is due to run in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks.
Sheikh Hamdan’s racing manager Angus Gold said: “I haven’t actually spoken to Paul but I have been told that there is a crack in there somewhere.
“It’s obviously a blow. Things had been going well, but these things happen in racing.”
Glorious Goodwood comes to a close today with another solid card, the 32 Red Cup being the feature.
Another trainer in top form at present is James Bethell, and anyone who spotted he sent Mister Bob all the way down to Lingfield last Saturday were rewarded with a nice winner.
Ted Durcan was on board, and the trainer’s son Ed was on hand, saying: “That´s our fifth winner from our last seven runners. Dad told Ted to ride him like a good horse. He´s a big type but we´re not sure about hurdling because he´s had problems with his front legs.”
Another hugely successful Go Racing In Yorkshire Festival came to a close on Sunday at Pontefract and there was a smart performance in the opening maiden when Dark Reckoning came home in front under Jamie Spencer.
Trainer Ann Duffield, whose horses continue in fine form, said: “She´s proved difficult to get fit, without racing, as she has an horizontal attitude. But she´s nice and I think she´s got more improvement in her.”
There is a competitive card at Thirsk today at 1.45pm.