By Simon Jackson.
The Qipco 2000 Guineas has been mooted as a possible target for Ribchester after an impressive victory in the Group 2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury.
The Richard Fahey-trained colt was kept to the rear of the field of six runners by James Doyle before challenging two furlongs out and kept on well to score by a length and a quarter.
The victory was the first in three starts for the son of Iffraaj who was sent off the 13-8 favourite after finishing second on his debut in a Doncaster maiden and then runner-up to Ajaya in the Group 2 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes at York.
“Richard [Fahey] told me he liked the horse and that I should settle him in and pick him up late on,” Doyle revealed. “It was a professional performance. He ran around a little bit at York but it was only his second run and he was much wiser today.
“When I picked him up, he ran straight to the line and pricked his ears – I moved him up earlier than ideal because I was just worried that he might get stuck in this ground a little bit.
“He actually surprised me because he coped with the ground quite well. I have definitely picked him up too soon because he pricked his ears in the last half-furlong and wasn’t doing a tap.
“It was a nice performance. He’s a big, raw type with plenty of scope and I would imagine that he will be much better next year. He is one I am looking forward to.”
Ribchester is best-priced at 33-1 for next year’s 2000 Guineas but is as short as 20-1 with Ladbrokes and Fahey believes that he will be even better next year.
“I think that Ribchester is on the way to being a nice horse,” Fahey said immediately after the victory on Saturday.
“You can imagine how shocked I was when he was beaten at Doncaster on his debut. We thought that he would win there. But he is a big baby and it’s amazing how a race can bring horses on.
“It was a brave shout to run him in the Gimcrack Stakes but his second verified where we thought the horse was. Today has just confirmed it.
“He is not a horse that will have a lot more racing this year. He is a big frame of a horse and a big baby, so we will get him home and make a decision from there.
“If I have a horse for the 2,000 Guineas, it is definitely him. He is a good quality horse who will get better with time and anything he does this year is a bonus.”
In other news, Newbury on Saturday recorded their highest one day attendance since August 2012 as 20,995 people attended the second day of the Dubai Duty Free International Meeting which was followed by a concert from Madness after racing.
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.