'We could have rattled the second with a clear run' - James Horton looking forward after his Lincoln near miss

James Horton with Navagio
James Horton with Navagio at Park Lodge StablesCredit: David Milnes

James Horton went close to landing an early big pot from his new base in Newmarket when Navagio finished an excellent third in the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster last weekend and the trainer will be targeting more major handicaps with him in the coming months.

The former assistant to Sir Michael Stoute was sending out just his second runner from Park Lodge Stables when the 22-1 chance finished three-and-a-half-lengths behind winner Mr Professor on Town Moor. That effort was more commendable as Navagio had a wall of horses in front of him two furlongs out and received a bump when jockey Richard Kingscote delivered his challenge.

Formerly trained in Ireland, Navagio was having his first start for Horton at Doncaster when his chance was further compromised by having to come from stall one.

Horton is now looking at all the big Saturday handicaps for his five-year-old into next month and beyond.

The trainer said: “I thought Navagio ran a very nice race in the Lincoln but our hands were tied by the draw as regards where we had to go and what we had to do in the race. It was a super effort after a long spell off the track. 

"I believe he would have finished closer with a better passage but how close I don’t know. The winner won very well on the day but I think we could have rattled the second with a clear run.”

Mr Professor: an authoritative winner of the Lincoln for David Egan and Amo Racing
Mr Professor (David Egan) wins the LincolnCredit: Edward Whitaker

He added: “He’s come out of the race in good form. We’ll see how the season pans out but we hope to go to the right places with him.”

More immediately, Horton has two entries at the Bank Holiday Monday meeting at Kempton on Monday as he looks to get off the mark from his new base. 

He said: “We’ve declared Orbital Chime and Baltimore Boy and they’ve both got reasonable chances off their marks. Baltimore Boy has had this on his radar for a while as he’s been around Kempton in the past and whatever he does he’ll improve on.”

Grandlad was Horton's first runner since September when he finished second at Newcastle on March 22, a day before Navagio's fine Lincoln effort. Horton has returned to Newmarket after a troubled spell in Middleham as private trainer to former prominent owner John Dance, whose horses were prevented from running due to the Financial Conduct Authority's investigation into his business activities.

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David MilnesNewmarket correspondent

Published on 31 March 2024inBritain

Last updated 09:00, 31 March 2024