Prince Alzain produced a smooth performance under star apprentice Oisin Murphy to land the coral.co.uk Churchill Stakes at Lingfield for Gerard Butler, and in the process secure his ticket to the �1million raceday back at the Surrey venue on Good Friday.
The in-form four-year-old was sent off the 5-2 favourite on the back of a career-best effort in winning at Wolverhampton and showed a nice turn of foot half a furlong out to put the race to bed, after Highland Knight found the pack closing having cut out the running.
Bancnuanaheireann finished as well as anything to be two and a quarter lengths in arrears, with Uramazin third.
Murphy, who has enjoyed such a fantastic season, including winning the Ayr Gold Cup, said: “All the credit has to go to Mr Butler for putting an apprentice up in a Listed race, he kept the faith in me from the last day at Woverhampton.
“The horse is all class, he put it to bed very easily and showed how good he is. He popped and travelled well, they went hardish and slowed it up down back and when I went for him he showed how good he is. I’d be very much looking forward to it if I was asked to ride in the Good Friday race.”
Butler, winning the race for the third time since 2003, said: “I’m very pleased for the horse and the owner, the horse has had a lot of ups and downs. I thought that was a good performance, he got in a bit of trouble but picked up and won with his ears pricked – to do that in a Listed race, that’s not too bad.
“I loved the way he (Murphy) got on with him last week and it’s important to keep those combinations intact. He’s got a good future ahead of him and hopefully we get to use him next year. That (Good Friday) would be the plan, Dubai will come into it as well before that but it would be great to come back here for the �200,000 race.”
Valbchek (14-1) finally came good again as he landed the second ‘win and you’re in’ event on the card, the Best Odds At bookmakers.co.uk Golden Rose Stakes.
Possessed of plenty of talent, the Jeremy Noseda-trained four-year-old has not always produced what he might but the way he quickened from off the pace a furlong out was impressive, securing Listed honours by a neck from Take Cover, with Lancelot Du Lac running on for third.
Quite lightly raced, Valbchek was winning for the third time – the first having come at this track over course and distance on his racecourse debut in March last year.
Noseda told At The Races: “He’s looked like he’s kept a bit for himself some days, but today he looked more like the horse we think he is capable of being. He won first time out here on the Polytrack when we were getting him ready for the sales race at Newmarket, which he won. We thought everything looked bright but we’ve had a lot of disappointing days since.
“I’m just glad to see him back and producing what I think he is capable of. We’ll take him to Dubai, have a go there, and we’ll be back on Good Friday.”
Being on the speed has proved profitable here recently and that was again illustrated as Anaconda (7-1) made all to bag a good prize in the Download The Ladbrokes App Handicap. The Tom Dascombe-trained four-year-old had been first and second on his only two visits to the Lingfield Polytrack and it clearly suits him as he scored with a bit in hand.
While it would be stretching it a bit to say he would have won, there was not much doubt top-weight Bronze Angel was unfortunate. Last year’s Cambridgeshire winner was stopped at least twice in his tracks when trying to make a run up the far rail.Read the rest of the story British Horseracing Authority News Headlines