Cheveley Park Stud’s Sacred relished the step up to seven furlongs as she got the better of Saffron Beach and Love Is You to take the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes, the feature race on Wednesday’s card at Newmarket.
The three-year-old had a productive juvenile season having won on debut before a trio of runner-up efforts in the Group 2 Queen Mary, Lowther and Flying Childers Stakes. The only blemish on her record was when finishing last behind Alcohol Free in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes.
Held up by jockey Ryan Moore, Sacred showed an impressive turn of foot to pull clear of Saffron Beach to win by three quarters of a length. Normandie Stud’s homebred Love Is You stayed on to finish third.
Sacred is by Exceed And Excel and out of the Blame mare Sacre Caroline, a half-sister to four-time Grade 1 heroine Lady Eli and to Grade 3 winner Bizzy Caroline. Earlier this year, Cheveley Park revealed that Sacre Caroline would head to Banstead Manor Stud to be covered by Frankel.
William Haggas who trains the filly told ITV Racing: “I’m really pleased with her. Her work has always been very good and very slick this spring. I think the ground is important to her, quick ground is a must. She got the trip really well.
“It’s a bit of a no-brainer for me – if the ground is fast, we’ll be coming back here on Guineas day. If she doesn’t stay, she doesn’t stay, but there’s only one Guineas and she’ll be here God willing.”
Sacred was the second Group 3 winner at Newmarket for Haggas after My Oberon wore down the gutsy Marie’s Diamond to take the spoils in the Earl Of Sefton Stakes.
A treble on the day was completed for Haggas when Shadwell’s Mohaafeth scooted away with the closing ten-furlong handicap. That win provided jockey Jim Crowley with a second leg of a double having partnered the Amanda Perrett-trained Count Otto to success in the six-furlong handicap.
There was a poignant success on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile when the Andrew Balding-trained Tactical, sporting the silks of The Queen, denied favourite Naval Crown to land the European Free Handicap.
The early pace had been set by Naval Crown and Percy’s Lad but as the latter dropped away, it looked as if jockey Oisin Murphy was stuck behind a wall of horses.
Fortune proved to be on his side as he found room to track Naval Crown and as a gap opened up beside the far side rail, Tactical was provided with a dream run after the dip to win the Listed contest by a neck.
A homebred for the Queen, Tactical is by Al Shaqab’s Toronado and is out of the Makfi mare Make Fast. As a juvenile he won the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Group 2 July Stakes.
Returning to Royal Ascot is firmly on his agenda for this season and trainer Andrew Balding indicated that the three-year-old is likely to be handed entries in the Jersey or St James’s Palace Stakes.
A royal winner of the @bet365 European Free Handicap 👑
Tactical forges home to land the prize under @oismurphy riding for @AndrewBalding2 👏 pic.twitter.com/B9M6JNRkMD
— Newmarket Racecourse (@NewmarketRace) April 14, 2021
Balding, speaking to ITV Racing, added: “Royal Ascot is very much the objective and the purpose here was to find out which race. He might stay a mile and he’ll have a St James’s Palace entry, and then there’s obviously the Jersey Stakes.
“I’ll discuss it with Her Majesty and John [Warren] but I think I’d rule out the Commonwealth Cup. It looked very much like seven furlongs, and possibly a mile, would suit him well.
“It was a great thrill for everyone at the yard when he won at Royal Ascot last year and it might be expecting too much to do it again, but he’s the right type. He has a great mind.
“He’s done very well physically. If he stayed a mile, there’d certainly be more to come as the programme book opens up a bit more, whereas seven furlongs is quite restrictive. But we’re thrilled to win today and all roads lead to Ascot.”
Dettori marks UK return with success on Delta Bay
Newmarket’s Rowley Mile was also the scene of Frankie Dettori’s first British victory of the season as he partnered and the John and Thady Gosden-trained Delta Bay to success in the mile fillies’ maiden.
Dettori had spent the winter in the Middle East and had last been seen on a British track back in November.
It was only Delta Bay’s second start of her career and despite drifting right two furlongs from home, she was always keeping the Richard Spencer-trained Professional Widow at bay to win by a neck. The Queen’s Portfolio was three quarters of a length further back in third.