The classy Richard Pankhurst bounced back to his best to spring a surprise in the £150,000 G2 Betfred Hungerford Stakes, the feature race on Betfred Ladies Day at Newbury last Saturday in front of a big crowd.
A bumper crowd of 13,392 (compared to 12,607 in 2015) were on hand to watch an excellent eight-race card and Will Young perform at the Party in the Paddock after racing.
Richard Pankhurst had been earmarked as a potential Classic contender following an impressive win in the 2014 Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot but the John Gosden-trained four-year-old missed the majority of last season through injury and failed to shine in two starts over a mile so far this year.
Sent off the 11/1 outsider of six, Richard Pankhurst travelled well for Robert Havlin throughout the seven-furlong contest and ran on strongly to beat 7/4 favourite Home Of The Brave by a length. Winning jockey Robert Havlin said “Richard Pankhurst has always shown a high level of ability at home. He has such a devastating turn of foot but has had niggling problems through his career and maybe lacked a bit of confidence as a result.”
“William Buick rode him in the Chesham Stakes on his second run when he was still a maiden and he just demolished the field. He has shown something of that ability today.”
“We expected a lot more from Richard Pankhurst in his first two runs this year because his homework was very good but it has just taken time. He has not had hard races but has just not been putting it together.”
“I think a small field and a straight track suits him well, where you can get him organised and sit quiet on him, while he loves fast ground as well. As he grows in confidence, hopefully more options will be open to him.”
Khalid Abdullah, Sir Michael Stoute and Pat Smullen combined for a 21/1 double on the card including even-money favourite Kings Fete, who recorded a second consecutive G3 success with an all-the-way victory in the £60,000 Betfred Geoffrey Freer Stakes (3.05pm).
Burdened with a 2lb penalty after taking the Glorious Stakes at Goodwood on July 29, the five-year-old always looked to have the measure of his rivals during the extended 13-furlong contest and comfortably beat Ormito by a length and a quarter.
Ivan Grozny (7/1 with Betbright) will likely be popular in the Betfred Ebor at York on Saturday.
The very speedy Blue Point looks by some way to have the best form on offer in the Gimcrack Stakes on the same card.
Yours In Sport!