Listed Flat race for Scarlet Dragon before he goes back hurdling
Neither Alan nor part-owner Henry Ponsonby could disguise their delight at the superb comeback run of Scarlet Dragon in the G3 St Simon Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.
Having travelled like a dream throughout for Martin Harley, Scarlet Dragon, racing for the first time since Royal Ascot and belying his odds of 33-1, eventually had to be content with third place behind dead-heaters Young Rascal and Morando.
However, Ponsonby, who manages the syndicate behind Scarlet Dragon, derived huge pleasure from the run – “Martin felt he would win at the furlong-pole, but he had been off for more than four months and that just made the difference” – as did Alan, who understandably feels there is improvement to come.
Alan said:”The plan is to run Scarlet Dragon in the £40,000 Listed Churchill Stakes at Lingfield on November 17, and after that we’ll form a plan to go back hurdling this winter, though we also have Good Friday at Lingfield in mind, too.”
Lingfield is a Fast-Track qualifier for the valuable All-Weather Championships back there on Good Friday next year, and, while Scarlet Dragon has only raced once previously on the polytrack, it was a terrific run to be caught in the very last stride by Chemical Charge in the Group 3 September Stakes at Kempton last year. so there will be no worries for Scarlet Dragon with regards the surface.
Chemical Charge was justifying short odds that day and went on to finish a two and a half lengths fourth to that brilliant globe-trotter of Aidan O’Brien’s, Highland Reel, in the G1 Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin, so Scarlet Dragon’s form on the Flat – he has won five races – stands up to the closest inspection.
Scarlet Dragon has run just the twice over jumps, and he made an eye-catching start when runner-up in the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton last February, and, though things did not go to plan at Aintree subsequently, Alan is hopeful that he’ll take high rank amongst the novice hurdlers this winter.
Besides Scarlet Dragon, our other three runners on Saturday all ran absolute blinders as well, so there is plenty to look forward to in the coming months.
Chatez, who has had more than his fair share of bad luck with injuries, produced a sterling performance to be beaten only half a length in a competitive handicap at Newbury, Redicean, winner of his first three races over hurdles last season before going off the boil, showed all his old dash to finish second on his comeback at Cheltenham, and, having peppered the wire all day, Alan found “the bull” with Caspar the Cub in Kempton’s finale on their evening meeting on the polytrack.
Alan said:”It was great to see Caspar win again there. The surface clearly suits him and he has won twice at Kempton now, so, while we do plan to try hurdling one day, he is in such good form just now that we might stay on the Flat for a bit longer.”