Idaho has a host of big middle-distance options open to him after making the most of having his sights lowered for the Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes at Chester.
Following six consecutive appearances at Group One level, the Aidan O’Brien-trained five-year-old was back in Group Three company for the first time in two years on the Roodee and was the 8-11 favourite under Ryan Moore.
With the free-going Muntahaa making the running and Danehill Kodiac keeping him honest, Idaho was perfectly positioned in third for much of the way and got a dream run against the rail rounding the home turn.
His superior class was soon evident as he pulled three and a half lengths clear of Danehill Kodiac passing the post.
O’Brien said: “Everybody was very happy with him coming here and it was nice to see him do that.
“The plan was to come here and then look at races like the Coronation Cup and King George, those sort of races.
“Ryan has said he’d stay further, though, so that opens up even more options. He said he’d have no problem going further, so I suppose he could develop into a Cup horse. He’s travelled the world and is very professional now. You like to see them run through the line strong like he did there.”
Sky Bet gave the winner a 9/1 quote for the Coronation Cup at Epsom on June 1.
Moore said: “He’s been a pretty consistent horse, really. He’s run in some of the best races and this was a slight drop down in class. This sort of ground and a slight step up in trip maybe suited him. I think he stays well.”
Richard Hannon said of the runner up: “It was a super run. He’s probably run to about 115 there as he was giving the winner 3lb.
“He’s been beaten by a better horse and when he’s in this level he’s fine unless there’s something like the winner that is probably a Group One horse. He’s very reliable, but I’m just not sure the track suited as he was off the bridle a long way out, but kept going. There’s a race at Newbury for him (Aston Park Stakes) or we could even take him to Turkey.”
Rostropovich in tune for O’Brien
Rostropovich provided Aidan O’Brien with a fifth victory in the last seven renewals of the Homeserve Dee Stakes at Chester.
The Frankel colt was a Group Two winner as a juvenile after claiming victory in the Futurity Stakes and having shaped with promise when fourth on his reappearance in France last month, he was the 5/2 favourite for this Listed test.
Ryan Moore was content to bide his time while his stablemate Kenya and the Mark Johnston-trained King’s Proctor battled for the lead for much of the extended 10-furlong journey.
King’s Proctor lasted the longest of that pair, but was claimed on the home turn by both My Lord And Master on his outside and Rostropovich, who nipped up his inside in the hands of Ryan Moore.
It was soon clear Rostropovich had far too many guns for My Lord And Master and he swiftly kicked clear for a three-and-three-quarter-length success in this recognised trial for next month’s Investec Derby, with Sky Bet making him 16/1 for the big one.
O’Brien said: “We were delighted with him. We thought maybe when he went beyond a mile it would suit him. We didn’t go beyond seven last year and we started him at a mile at Longchamp this year.
“We always hoped and thought when he stepped up it would suit him. He quickened up well. They went a nice, even pace. He relaxed lovely, so you’d have to be very happy.”
Asked about the Derby, O’Brien said: “The lads will decide if he’s one for Epsom or the French Derby. All the options are open to him. It never does any harm to have plenty of back-up in the big races, as last year proved – I’m not scared of running more than one, as you know.
“All these horses are bred and born to run in Classics so if we think they are up to it that’s what they’ll do. Because the ground in Ireland has been so bad the horses are improving massively from one run to the next. As we saw on Wednesday, with some of them we are even skipping their maidens just to make up for lost time.”
William Haggas, trainer of My Lord And Master, said: “He ran a good race. The winner was just too good for him on the day. I think our horse needs to step up to a mile and a half now, but I haven’t made any plans for him yet.”
The Newmarket-based trainer confirmed Chester Vase winner Young Rascal to have taken his exertions well and all roads now lead to the Derby.
He added: “He seems in good shape and we’re keen to give it (the Derby) a go, all being well. James (Doyle) was very happy with him and felt he’d learn a lot from that. We’re strongly considering taking him to Epsom for the Breakfast With The Stars morning, but we’ll see where we are nearer the time.”
Austin beats Owen
Another Batt showed plenty of guts in defying top weight in the Abbey Logistics Handicap to enable footballer Charlie Austin to come out on top in the battle of the footballers.
The Southampton striker is a member of winning owners Excel Racing, while former England star Michael Owen is the owner of Dragons Tail, who made a bold bid from the front.
Down in class, the George Scott-trained Another Batt (5/1 joint-favourite) looked like he would go away to win comfortably, but Dragons Tail stuck to his task gamely, only going down by a neck.
Scott said: “He wears his heart on his sleeve and is wonderful to train. He deserved a chance in this grade, he had the perfect draw and Silvestre (de Sousa) is made for him.
“There are valuable races at Goodwood and Haydock for him and then at Ascot it will either be the Britannia or the Jersey, I would think.”
Another Batt wins under Silvestre De Sousa
Sweet Moment for Hills
A Momentofmadness benefited from a furious early gallop to win the Gateley PLC Handicap.
Despite being drawn in stall one, the Charlie Hills-trained five-year-old could not get the early lead as John Quinn’s El Astronaute pinged the lids and raced into a clear advantage.
William Buick had to rethink his plans and sat behind the leader until the cutaway, when he made his bid for home. The 11/4 favourite kept up the gallop to beat the fast-finishing Powerallied by a length, to give Hills a second winner of the meeting.
“That was great, he’s much more manageable now as he used to be a bit of a tearaway,” said Hills.
“The plan was to lead, but it seemed everyone else wanted to, so William just waited until the rail opened up – it was a great ride.”
He added: “He’s in the Dash (at Epsom) and his owners would love a runner on Derby day.”
Royal plan for Wedding
Wedding Date confirmed debut promise with a clear-cut victory in the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes.
Richard Hannon’s filly finished second on her racecourse introduction at Brighton last week and was 15-2 to go one better under champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa.
The Middleham Park-owned juvenile charted a wide course throughout, but quickened up well in the home straight to score by three lengths from 11-10 favourite Ynys Mon.
De Sousa was completing a double on the card having earlier steered George Scott’s Another Batt to success in the Abbey Logistics Handicap.
Hannon said: “She’s a very nice filly and hasn’t even come in her coat yet, so you’d think there’s more to come.
“Royal Ascot will be on the agenda. She’ll get six furlongs, but is obviously quick enough for five. I don’t know if she’ll run before then.”
Wedding Date in winning action at Chester
Tiger brother overcomes slow start
Mark Johnston and PJ McDonald combined to land the English Fine Cottons Handicap with top-weight Austrian School.
The 3-1 shot had to shoulder a 6lb penalty for winning at Chelmsford a week ago but displayed a willing attitude to get the better of a thrilling duel with Berkshire Royal by half a length.
Austrian School is a half-brother to last month’s Grand National hero Tiger Roll.
Johnston said: “He was slowly away today, a bit like on his debut, and he was coming back two furlongs in trip, so he just found things happening a bit quick.
“He might be a half-brother to Tiger Roll, but I loved him as a yearling. We had to run here as he was 2lb well-in with his penalty and there aren’t any races over a mile and six furlongs for him.”
The Joe Tuite-trained Fast Dancer was an 8-1 winner of the concluding Partner Tech Handicap in the hands of 5lb claimer Finley Marsh.
Austrian School battles to victory