Ametist flies late at Newmarket to put down Bunbury Cup marker
Ametist produced a storming late run to take his career record to four wins from five starts in the Join The Great Racing Welfare Cycle Handicap at Newmarket – putting himself at the head of the market for the Bunbury Cup.
Ridden by the bang in-form Tom Marquand, fresh from a treble at Salisbury on Wednesday, the William Haggas-trained four-year-old appeared to have a mountain to climb with two furlongs to run.
Marquand was rowing away, with only two rivals behind him, and there did not appear to be much response.
Fox Champion and Kimifive were in front, with Dulas and No Nonsense in the firing line too.
But on meeting the rising ground, Ametist (15-8 favourite) began to fly home and in the end won a little cosily from No Nonsense by three-quarters of a length.
Paddy Power responded by shortening him two points to be their 8-1 outright favourite for the Bunbury Cup, over course and distance next month.
Haggas said: “It was a shame he didn’t get in at Ascot. He was in everything, the Royal Hunt Cup and the Buckingham Palace – but he never got in. He did well there.
“He could go for the Bunbury Cup. Is he quick enough for seven? He might need a bit further.
“He was better today than he was last time at Newmarket, when we were a bit disappointed, and he gave me a fright. He has big powerful stride on him.
“He is not a bad horse and he is getting better. I don’t know how good he could be. He is well bred, and we have looked after him.”
Another potentially smart winner on the card was George Baker’s Passionova (7-1), who gave all her rivals in the Nooresh Juglall Memorial Fillies’ Novice Stakes 7lb and a beating.
Not seen since winning at Lingfield in February, when she had Baker dreaming of a tilt at the Sandringham at Royal Ascot, she has been out of action following a slight setback.
She will be stepped up in class for a Group Three at Glorious Goodwood next.
“She ran here with a penalty in a novice, but her options are very limited,” said Baker.
“She won well on her second run. She had a chip removed from a fetlock, which could have been an issue for her
“We knew she would come on for it – but to carry nine stone seven pounds against some pretty regally-bred types gives us hope going forward. I thought we would win a long way out – and we can now dream a little.
“We will look at something at Goodwood for her, because that is our local track, and that Group Three (Whispering Angel Oak Tree Stakes) would be the obvious race.”