Elm Park outstays Royal Lodge rivals
Elm Park put in a dour staying performance to take the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes for Andrew Balding, Andrea Atzeni and new owners Qatar Racing. The Phoenix Reach colt had been snapped up by the powerful owners after his convincing Listed victory at Salisbury last time and it may prove to be an inspired purchase, as their new acquisition showed plenty of character to take today’s contest at Newmarket.
Barry Hills’ Nafaqa was sent off the 5/4 favourite after his victory over subsequent Group 2 winner Toocoolforschool at Doncaster and the jolly, ridden by Paul Hanagan, pulled for his head early behind a decent tempo being set by Salateen. Elm Park had also settled in off the pace under Atzeni but when the field quickened for home, the pair were caught a little on their toes.
Elm Park struggled to go with the leaders entering the closing stages but the more Atzeni asked for, the more he has given by his willing partner and they stayed on strongly to record a one length victory. Nafaqa eventually finished second, with pacesetter Salateen back in third.
Atzeni said: “He picked up well and he was always going to get there. The ground is probably plenty quick for him and that’s why he came off the bridle so early I think.
“He stumbled coming out of the stalls but he travelled nicely. They went for home early enough but he kept on. He is a nice horse. Today is the first time I have sat on him and he gave me a nice feel.”
Trainer Balding added: “I was a bit worried half way. He had put in a moderate piece of work during the week but we blamed the fog, so thankfully we supplemented him.
“The ground was a bit quick for him today and he just got a little bit lost on it. Once he hit the rising ground there was no catching him. We had his Father as well and he was a very good stayer. He is every bit as good and if he can win as much prize money, I would be happy.”
By Kevin Walsh / Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
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