The Jon and Julia Aisbitt-owned and bred Tiber Flow made good late headway in the six-furlong contest to collar long-time leader Hierarchy approaching the final furlong and then had to pull out all the stops to deny the late flourish of Ehraz, who powered up the stands rail under Jim Crowley, to score by a short head.
The 15-8 favourite, who won his first three all-weather starts before just failing to get up in a valuable conditions event at Newcastle on Good Friday, is as tough as they come.
His trainer William Haggas feels he will be able to tackle the hullabaloo of Royal Ascot, given his past history of overcoming adversity, and will next either run in the Commonwealth Cup or over an extra furlong in the Jersey Stakes.
Haggas revealed: “He is getting better and he has got ability. If you look at his near-hind leg, he’s got all those white hairs on it. This horse had four general anaesthetics in six weeks. At the time, we thought we were going to lose him. That was before he ever ran.
“He has knee surgery and then he got an infection in a hock, so he had general for the knee surgery and then they had to flush is clear twice, so he’s a bloody tough horse.
“I just think at Newcastle he just didn’t know how to sprint. They injected pace at the wrong time for him and he was a little bit flat-footed and then he came home. He has been running around the all-weather winning little races and I think he is learning how to sprint.
“Hopefully, if he comes on again, he will be a 12-1 or 16-1 shot but he is the sort of horse who will go well in a race like the Commonwealth Cup.
“Tom thought he went too early today. We will definitely leave him in the Commonwealth Cup and put him in the Jersey and we will run in one of them.
“Tom felt today that he has got the speed. One is a Group Three and one is a Group One and they will both be fiercely competitive.”
Ilaraab sees off Scope in Al Rayyan thriller
Haggas hinted me may have left Ilaraab a gallop short ahead of his seasonal debut when fourth in the John Porter over the same course and mile-and-a-half distance, but with the ring-rust knocked off, he was a different proposition in the Group Three Al Rayyan Stakes.
The 9-2 chance clearly loves this track, having taken the St Simon Stakes in autumn, and he was back to his best this time on ground that was quicker than ideal.
Marquand gave the five-year-old a peach of a ride, timing his run to perfection to see off Scope by a neck, with the pair four lengths clear of Without A Fight.
Haggas said: “I thought the ground was too quick for him today and it was a little bit quicker for the John Porter and I think he wants a bit of dig in the ground.
“He travelled much sweeter today and Tom was able to keep him in behind and the horse was always finding, although the other horse came back and he is a good stayer.
“It was a good effort under a 3lb penalty. I never put him in at Ascot, as I’m convinced he doesn’t like going right-handed.
“He ran at Ascot last year and hated it, so I am trying to keep him to left-handed tracks, so the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, I suppose.”
He added: “Tom Marquand gave him a brilliant ride. I just don’t understand how he is not getting six rides every day.”
Israr advertises King George V claims
Israr repelled all challengers to land a competitive renewal of the BetVictor London Gold Cup Handicap at Newbury.
As a son of Muhaarar out of Oaks winner Taghrooda, Israr had shown plenty of promise in three previous races, winning on debut and placing twice subsequently, and punters were keen on his chances in this 10-furlong event, sending him off the 3-1 favourite.
Israr was anchored at the back of the field by Jim Crowley in the early stages as Luminous Light set the gallop, but he made smooth progress in the straight to grab the lead with a furlong to run.
However, the John and Thady Gosden-trained winner had to dig deep in the closing stages, fending off the late charge of Surrey Mist by half a length while third-placed Zoom and fourth Wineglass Bay also finished strongly, with each beaten a head.
Israr could now head to Royal Ascot and step up to 12 furlongs for another handicap date.
Thady Gosden said: “He is a progressive type of horse and he enjoyed winning one in his turn there. He is so relaxed in his races that a step up to mile and a half should not be a problem and obviously his mother (Taghrooda) stayed it well.
“We will see how he comes out of the race and the King George V would seem an obvious spot for him.”
Crowley is also confident Israr will stay further, adding: “He was pretty straightforward and showed plenty of guts. I think he’ll get a bit further.”
Persian Force books Coventry spot with power-packed Newbury win
Persian Force booked his ticket for Royal Ascot with an effortless success in the BetVictor Conditions Stakes at Newbury.
Richard Hannon’s charge won the Brocklesby at Doncaster on his racecourse bow in March and was all the rage to follow up as he tried six furlongs for the first time.
Just three runners went to post, with another previous winner, Holguin, setting out to make all while Aidan O’Brien’s newcomer Sierra Blanca raced upsides down the middle of the track.
Rossa Ryan was happy to tuck in behind the Andrew Balding-trained Holguin on the 8-13 market leader until switched out to make his challenge as Sierra Blanca quickly dropped away.
Persian Force swept by the pace-setter in a matter of strides and pulled clear in the closing stages, coming home two and a half lengths clear.
Hannon believes the Mehmas colt compares favourably with former stable star Canford Cliffs, who landed the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot before going on to notch five Group One victories at three and four.
Persian Force is now set to follow the same route to Ascot.
He said: “He is very laid back. If only I had another five like that, I wouldn’t have to work for a living!
“He will go to the Coventry. He is one of the nicest two-year-olds we have had for a long time. He is not a horse who is running around the paddock – he behaves like good horses do. Since Canford Cliffs’ days, he is the most exciting two-year-old we have had.
“I am never really a fan of the Brocklesby – you don’t see a lot of really good horses going there. But I said what is the point of hanging onto them? May as well let him go and it has been a long time from then to now.
“This is a proper race. I know Andrew (Balding) likes his horse and I think he slightly frightened a lot of horses away today. He is a seriously good horse.”
Nashwa in the frame for Classic glory after stylish success
Nashwa boosted her Classic claims with victory in the Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes at Newbury.
The Frankel filly had made an impressive seasonal debut at Haydock last month, after finishing third on her only juvenile start, and she was duly sent off the 5-6 favourite to double her tally under Hollie Doyle.
Nashwa was settled last of the seven runners as outsider Flash Betty set the gallop, but she could be noted travelling with ease half a mile from home in the 10-furlong event.
She made effortless progress to grab the initiative with a couple of furlongs to run, but 22-1 shot Stay Alert was not going down without a fight, battling back in the final furlong.
However, Nashwa was never in danger, recording a length-and-three-quarter triumph with Mukaddamah staying on for third.
Trainer John and Thady Gosden already house the Cazoo Oaks favourite in Musidora Stakes scorer Emily Upjohn, but Nashwa could yet take her chance at Epsom on June 3 and she is as low as 7-1 with some firms for the fillies’ Classic.
Connections were in no rush to commit to an Epsom outing though, with the French version at Chantilly on June 19 another possible option.
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner-breeder Imad Al Sagar, said: “She did everything we hoped she would. She settled well, quickened well and galloped to the line. She has taken it in her stride in every way.
“She has got options of the Oaks and the Prix de Diane, which is a very nice conundrum, if it is.
“Obviously, Imad will talk to John and see what they want to do.
“It is only her third race and she is learning all the time. I think the great thing is the way she took herself into the race and settled when she asked her and she lengthened.
“She is a lovely-striding filly from that point of view, she looks smart. Hollie gets on with her well.”
Thady Gosden added: “She posted very smart sectionals at Haydock and she is a filly we have always liked a lot. She shows a great attitude. Obviously we were drawn wide today which was not ideal, but Hollie dropped her in and settled her very well at the back and she was very well switched off there. She picked up well in the straight and found a good turn of foot.
“Obviously, she will have learned from the experience today. They are two different types of horses. Emily Upjohn is a big, rangy girl, where Nashwa is a little more compact.
“There is Epsom or France for the Prix de Diane and she has plenty of toe, so that will be a possibility.”