Atzeni strikes late on Convey for Stoute in Group 3 thriller
First published on Saturday, February 25, 2017
When the news broke on Saturday morning that hot favourite Mutakayyef had been ruled out, the Winter Derby lost one of its leading lights, but it still produced a fantastic finish as Convey edged out Pinzolo and Absolute Blast.
Although not quite boasting form to match Mutakayyef, Convey did hold the next highest official rating with a mark of 111, and that class came to the fore in a tight conclusion.
The five-year-old had been gelded since his previous start in October, was trying the 1m2f trip for the first time and was giving new owner Robert Ng immediate payback for the 130,000 guineas he spent on the horse at Tattersalls Autumn Horses In Training Sale.
With a lack of front-runners, several had chances spread across the track, including last year's winner Grendisar, but Andrea Atzeni came with a late sweep on the outside on Convey to win by a neck, giving trainer Sir Michael Stoute a first win in the race and a first in 2017.
The Coral Easter Classic on Good Friday could be a target for Convey, and the sponsors were most impressed, making him their 5-2 favourite (from 12), although he can still be backed at 7-1.
Tom Marquand was aboard one of the few in the field happy to make the running, and the gallant Pinzolo nearly managed to make all for Ismail Mohammed.
The six-year-old has won three times at the track over 1m4f, and was just unable to match the winner's late thrust. Mohammed said: "He likes to go further than that but has run very well."
An all-weather success story
There was also plenty of smiles surrounding the third, Absolute Blast, who has been one of this winter's all-weather success stories.
Formerly with Iain Jardine, the mare was having her first start for Archie Watson, saddling his first runner in a Group race.
Having started at Newcastle in a Class 5 handicap in December, the five-year-old has improved two stone in the handicap to a mark of 100, and showed she still has more to offer.
Watson said: "She's Group-placed now so will always have her paddock value. I've got to talk to the owners, but I wouldn't mind taking on anything again that we've run against today on Good Friday."
The Jane Chapple-Hyam-trained Solar Deity lost his action when in touch in midfield and was pulled up by Stevie Donohoe with an injury that sadly proved fatal.
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