Heather Main’s Zoulu Chief could be set for bigger and better things having blitzed his rivals at Newbury to land a huge upset at 150-1.
Sent off the outsider of the field for the Starlight Charity Remembers Christopher Hanbury Maiden Stakes having beaten only one rival home on his debut, the Zoustar colt showed significant improvement to make every yard in the hands of Marco Ghiani – who enjoyed a double when partnering Darryll Holland’s Greyful Storm (25-1) to victory in the Bernard Sunley Handicap.
It was the third time Main has saddled a winner priced at 100-1 or more, and the Kingston Lisle handler is now considering a tilt at Royal Ascot with her precocious youngster following his four-and-three-quarter-length triumph.
She said: “We are absolutely delighted. The ground was a bit slow for him at Salisbury, but it was his first run and he jumped a bit slowly and he was still learning. He must be quite intelligent though as the penny has dropped quickly.
“He’s entered in the big sales race at Newmarket in October because we bought him at Tattersalls, but if everything goes tickety-boo we might aim him at Royal Ascot. The Coventry or something like that. I think it will suit, I hope so.
“He liked the ground today and he might even like it faster than that. It just depends what the ground is really. He was running on at the end, wasn’t he.”
Naqeeb, half-brother to the mighty Baaeed, had to settle for minor money once again as Ralph Beckett’s Nothing To Sea (7-1) struck under an enterprising ride from Hector Crouch in the Coolmore Stud EBF Maiden Stakes.
The son of Sea The Moon made all for a two-and-a-quarter-length victory with Naqeeb flying home late to claim second ahead of the 8-11 favourite Tony Montana.
Roger Varian saw heavy favourites turned over in both divisions of the Earl & The Pharaoh Novice Stakes with James Ferguson’s Good Karma (5-1) showing real promise to win the first division in good style.
The son of Dark Angel – who is owned by Michael Buckley and runs in the colours most associated recently with hurdling superstar Constitution Hill – could now be set for a step up to a mile with the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot a possibility.
“He’s a horse we have always thought a lot of and is owned by Michael Buckley who is a very good friend of ours so I’m really happy to get a good winner for him in his colours” said Ferguson.
“He will probably stay further and I think he will stay a mile no problem. Depending on what mark he gets he could easily be a Britannia horse.
“That has sort of been pencilled in after he won at Wolverhampton and it looks like the step up to a mile won’t be a problem. He has developed very well over the winter – we’ve had to be a bit patient with him but he’s told us when he was ready and thank god we listened to him.
“I think they think a lot of the Roger Varian horse (Resolute Man) so I think the form behind him is pretty good and his experience came to the fore. He’s not the easiest horse to ride and I think Danny (Muscutt) gave him a brilliant ride.”
In the second division there was a small shock as Paul and Oliver Cole’s 16-1 chance Thunder Ball dropped back to novice company with aplomb to win by four-lengths and shed his maiden tag at the 10th attempt.
Earlier on the card, David Evans’ Mabre (12-1) landed the Starlight Apprentice Handicap in the hands of Olivia Tubb, while Harry Eustace’s Mustazeed (11-4 favourite) made it back-to-back course and distance victories in the Unibet Handicap.
“He had to be tough today whereas he went through it much smoother the time before,” said Eustace.
“I did have a concern about the ground today, he handled it fine. It was really pleasing to see him put his head down and fight for it today and it is very rewarding for the owners. They had quite a long time with not much fun with him last year and it is paying off this year.”
In a thrilling finish to the concluding BetVictor Handicap, William Stone’s Dashing Panther denied Warhole back-to-back victories, winning by a nose at odds of 33-1 in the hands of Saffie Osborne.