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Lead Artist takes starring role at York

Lead Artist takes starring role at York
Lead Artist takes starring role at York

John Gosden may have found a contender for the St James’s Palace Stakes after Lead Artist bolted home by four and three-quarter lengths at York.

Lead Artist was beaten a nose by First Conquest when the pair made their debuts in the Wood Ditton at Newmarket in April, but in receipt of 6lb this time, he reversed that form with ease on the Knavesmire.

The three-year-old was battling with First Conquest for the lead with two furlongs remaining before he hit the front.

Lead Artist was closely followed by Dark Tornado and Under Siege, but he continued to stretch his advantage as he powered to the line and shed his maiden tag comfortably in the Darley EBF Novices Stakes, with Under Siege a distant second for Andrew Balding.

The Dubawi colt has an entry for the Group One contest at Royal Ascot and Gosden, who trains in partnership with his son Thady, did not rule out the option, with Lead Artist now a 12-1 shot from 33s with Coral.

“We couldn’t run him last year but he’s come on from the Wood Ditton,” he said. “Obviously the Wood Ditton winner was giving him weight today, but he’s pulled nicely clear in the last furlong, that was his most impressive.

“He’s a grand horse. I think a stiff mile is his game right now. He’s out of Obligate, a good Juddmonte family, but when you look at him he looks like a powerful Dubawi, so I wouldn’t want to stretch him out.

“I wouldn’t be keen on bringing him back to seven, but a stiff mile would be good. Something has to take on the Guineas winner (Notable Speech at Ascot) and my, he was impressive.

Lead Artist
Lead Artist eased to victory in the Darley EBF Novice Stakes at York (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I’d watched him win at Kempton and he’s the most beautiful moulded horse, by the same sire. Someone has to finish second and third!”

Botanical ran out an impressive three-length winner of the Knights Solicitors Handicap.

The Roger Varian-trained market leader justified his 5-2 price tag when he got his nose in front for the first time inside the closing stages before blitzing the other 15 runners in the mile-and-two-furlong race.

Botanical, Loyal Touch, King’s Code and Qitaal were to the fore with just over a furlong to run and it looked as though it could have been a blanket finish.

But it was four-year-old, in the hands of James Doyle, who kicked on when it mattered most to secure victory on his first appearance of the season, ahead of David Evans’ King’s Code with Reach, trained by Mick and David Easterby, a length and a quarter further adrift in third.

Botanical comes home to win the Knights Solicitors Handicap (Mike Egerton/PA)

It provided another success for Varian and owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum in this race, having won with UAE Prince in 2019.

Doyle said: “He was in super nick today. The worry was the drying ground.

“He was so dominant on soft to heavy ground in Hamilton, maybe it was a weak race, but he showed there that he can cope with these conditions no problem.”

Riot (16-1) ended a nine-race winless run when claiming the Yorkshire Equine Practice Stakes by two and a half lengths.

Riot secured the Yorkshire Equine Practice Handicap on Friday (Mike Egerton/PA)

The David O’Meara-trained seven-year-old hit the front inside the final furlong before bursting further clear, with Richard Fahey’s Gincident only a neck clear of Hectic in second.

Jockey Danny Tudhope said: “I got a lovely track through, sometimes you can get boxed in. Your horse needs to be ridden with a lot of luck, he travelled super and got a nice gap.”

Jubilee Walk then claimed the concluding Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Handicap for Oisin Murphy and James Ferguson, streaking to a length-and-a-quarter victory as the 4-1 favourite.

The three-year-old was dropping back to five furlongs for the first time and seemed to relish the sprint distance when giving his jockey, who took the Boodles Yorkshire Cup on Giavellotto earlier in the day, a double on the card.

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