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Lord Shanakill battles to Mill Reef Stakes triumph

Lord Shanakill pulls out just enough to take the 2008 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury

Lord Shanakill pulls out just enough to score in the Mill Reef Stakes

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham  


MANY years ago when Karl Burke was starting out as a young trainer he was based in the hamlet of Ginge within a 15-minute drive of Newbury, and on Saturday evening his horsebox was rolling home to his North Yorkshire yard carrying a Group 2 winner from the Berkshire town.

Burke's Lord Shanakill reversed Prix Morny form with Gallagher, the 11-8 favourite here, with a gritty performance in the Dubai Duty Free-sponsored Mill Reef Stakes.

Looking on from the sidelines was Lord Shanakill's regular jockey Fergus Sweeney, who is currently out of action due to injury. But he had given a thorough briefing to deputy Jim Crowley, who carried out instructions to perfection.

The winner is owned by Mark Gittins, who together with his family have 30 horses with Burke. Gittins manages the family's newly established Mogeely Stud, near Cork.

Connections had been in two minds about running here. Gittins explained. "He ran a grand race when third in the Morny, but we'd also run at Doncaster last week and therefore we thought twice about giving him another race so soon. He'd lost his chance at Doncaster when being slowly away. Next year we may look at races in the US, though I doubt we'd been inclined to sell him."

Burke, who was at Ayr, said: "He's not in the Middle Park Stakes but he could be supplemented and that is the only race he would go for this season, otherwise we would put him away."

Brian Meehan felt the Morny may have taken the edge off Gallagher, who was finishing runner-up for the third consecutive time. He said: "He just flattened out a little when looking like he may win. It's disappointing toget beaten again, but the plan is to head to the Middle Park."                                                                           
Michael Jarvis completed a 272-1 treble including Yaddree who is 14-1 (from 20) for the Cambridgeshire with Stan James following his win in the John Smith's Conditions Stakes.

Jarvis said he ran the colt too see if he truly stayed 1m1f, and the positive outcome may well result in an appearance at Newmarket, though the trainer will consult advisers of owner Sheikk Ahmed Al Maktoum.

Jarvis was fairly confident of a decent performance from Alazeyab in the first leg of the 7f maiden, and his optimism was justified when Sheikh Hamdan's colt picked off 50-1 shot King's Sabre in the final furlong to win with plenty in hand.

Philip Robinson was on board both those winners but missed his last ride complaining of dehydration. Dane O'Neill deputised on Elysee Palace in the finale to complete Jarvis's three-timer.

The lazy but talented Nasri - "once I gave him a tap he shot forward" - reported Jamie Spencer in the debrief, continued Brian Meehan's excellent form when confirming recent course form with Definightly in the 6f nursery.

Meehan said: "You need to dig deep, but he responds and he has plenty of ability. He definitely wants an extra furlong now, but we'll see what the handicapper does before selecting a target."

Meehan won the second leg of the 7f maiden with newcomer Control Zone.

"He travels well and does everything like a man. He could be a Sommerville Tattersall horse, like Nasri."

Star Performance
Jim Crowley, with a Group race double.

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