Harputlu Gaggos leads home local one-two
REPORT: TURKEY, Saturday
Veliefendi: Anatoli Stakes (1m2f, dirt)
THERE were no wins from 11 overseas raiders in Istanbul on Saturday night, when the Turkish Jockey Club put on quite a show as their new floodlights illuminated the start of the inaugural two-day Turkish International Racing Festival at Veliefendi racecourse.
There were high hopes for Familiar Territory and Happy Boy, the two Godolphin representatives, in the £212,500 Anatolia Stakes. Indeed, they were coupled together at an astonishing price, shorter than 5-1 on, in local Tote betting.
Everythingwas going as punters had expected when Familiar Territory went past the Mark Johnston-trained Hearthstead Maison to take the lead at the top of the three furlong home straight.
But the two top locals, Harputlu Gaggos and Fairson, were soon challenging out in the centre of the course as Familiar Territory stuck to the rail. And it was Harputlu Gaggos, the lesser fancied of the pair at 6.15-1, who pulled away to beat Fairson by three and a half lengths, with the tiring Familiar Territory another seven lengths adrift in third.
Happy Boy finished 17 lengths behind his stablemate in sixth, with Hearthstead Maison weakening into seventh.
Deirdre Johnston, representing her husband, reacted succinctly with the words "too deep" in describing the all-weather surface. She went on to explain that Hearthstead Maison needs fast ground and, with that in short supply at home and the son of Peintre Celebre top rated among the entries, it was well worth taking a chance on unfamiliar terrain.
"But it seems to be the kind of surface that suits soft ground horses, more like Southwell than Lingfield or Kempton, and he didn't act on it," she said.
The other international race for thoroughbreds, the £212,500 Istanbul Trophy for fillies over 7f on turf, attracted three French and two German challengers among its 13 runners.
But they were firmly put in their places by the home team, although not by the odds-on Ribella, who ran a thoroughly moody race and is surely on the brink of retirement at the age of nine.
Instead, it was the 3.45-1 chance Berraksu, ridden by the Shergar Cup winner Halis Karatas, who edged out Lovely Doyoun by a head. Best of the French was the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained San Sicharia, who stayed on late to snatch fourth, just in front of her compatriot, Kayaba.
Eire, the other French filly, was seventh, with the Germans, Lips Arrow and Marny, eighth and 11th.
The French came agonisingly close to taking the final international race, the £85,000 IFAHR Trophy for Purebred Arabians. But Belamer, trained by Sandrine Tarrou and ridden by her husband, Thierry Jarnet, was caught in the final 100 yards and went down by half a length to Bozdogan (11.75-1).
The Turkish Jockey Club did very well to ensure that the Anatolia Stakes went off a mere four minutes late after the preceding international amateur lady riders' race was severely delayed. The British representative, At The Races pundit Emily Jones, completed a full circuit and a half of the 1m2f oval when her mount took control on the way down to the start.
Jones, to her immense credit, kept her sense of humour throughout the incident, waving at a cheering crowd as her exhausted steed was withdrawn and smiling broadly as she accepted a bouquet for 'taking part' afterwards to the fanfare of trumpets and drums from an onlooking marching band.
In Jones's absence, the race was won by the queen of Irish point-to-pointing, Clare Macmahon, riding her first winner outside Ireland. Afterwards, a delighted Macmahon beamed: "I missed the break and thought I had no chance but they came very wide into the straight, leaving me to slip up the inside, and in the end I got there too soon!"