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Churchill hung left but did enough to beat Isomer and Cunco

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

V for victory as Churchill lands significant gamble

Report: Royal Ascot, Saturday

Chesham Stakes (Listed Race) 2yo, 7f

CHURCHILL was backed like defeat was out of the question overnight and into Saturday and he delivered - although not without giving those who punted him into 8-11 favouritism a mighty scare.

The son of Galileo hit the front stylishly but showed signs of inexperience on only his second start as he hung markedly to the left, almost handing the race to the fast-finishing 25-1 hope Isomer.

Cunco, meanwhile, put in a fine display to become the second Frankel juvenile to hit the frame this week, taking third having been sent off a 7-2 shot.

The result saw Ryan Moore overhaul Frankie Dettori at the head of the top jockeys standings, with the pair now both having notched four victories but Moore holding the advantage courtesy of his placed efforts.

'He's one to look forward to'

Ryan Moore was not overly concerned about Churchill's antics late on and after the line and is confident the Aidan O'Brien-trained colt is an exciting prospect for the future.

"He's a big powerful horse, a beautiful horse," Moore said. "He travelled very smoothly to get there he was just very green. He's a high quality two-year-old.

"The whole time he was going there he was always just waiting, he's a bit of a baby but he's one to look forward to."

O'Brien's leading hope

Co-owner Michael Tabor admitted Aidan O'Brien had considered Churchill his best chance for the week but admitted he was given quite a fright as the colt almost threw the race away.

"You must remember, it's only his second run and he was very green," he said. "We think there's a lot of improvement in him and hopefully he'll be a very nice horse for the future.


Churchill: is now a 16-1 shot for next year's Derby

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

"He really was Aidan's number one fancy for the week and so it proved to be. We haven't discussed targets yet or thought about it personally. You like to win here and not jump ahead of yourself."

Paddy Power reacted by trimming Churchill into 12-1 from 14-1 for next year's 2,000 Guineas and into 16-1 from 25-1 for the Derby at Epsom.

Mile on the agenda for Cunco

John Gosden was keen to take the positives from Cunco's third, with the colt having once again been anything but straightforward in the preliminaries, as he had been on debut at Newbury.

The Newmarket trainer is now eyeing a step up in trip for Cunco and said: "He looks like he needs a mile now. He's run great and we've probably done too good a job settling him but I liked the way he finished out.

"He just likes to run and we might be better off letting him use his stride."

Balding thrilled with Isomer

Isomer was beaten by Cunco at Newbury but reversed that form on Saturday, although trainer Andrew Balding believes Churchill's winning margin would likely have been wider had he stayed on a true line.

"I'm very happy," Balding said. "The winner hung to the left a little bit and we might have been flattered by the proximity but we want further and he'll be alright."

Owner Jim Hay added: "Jamie [Spencer, jockey] thinks he'd prefer a bit better going than today and a bit further. He surprised us first time and he's done pretty well again here.

"My wife bred him in Kentucky and this is probably the first Kentucky-bred horse to run in a race like this so it's a big day for us."

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