Big fields turned out for Brighton’s penultimate meeting of the season, run on good to soft (good in places) going. Getting the stands rail on entering the straight was critical. There were sunny intervals, but it was blustery throughout.
Repairs to nearby water mains nearby caused a reduced water supply on the course. This was overcome with a lot of behind-the-scenes effort, including help from the staff of other Arc courses.
As so often in the past, the card began with a two-year-old race won by the Richard Hannon stable. The 7f nursery went to More Than A Prince (11/2), a chance ride for Rossa Ryan. Turning into the straight, the field spread across from the middle to the stands side and it looked anybody’s race until a furlong out. From there More Than A Prince, who had come closest to the stands rail, pulled away from his rivals and finished two and a quarter lengths ahead of Awesome Gary.
The second race, another contest for youngsters over seven furlongs, resulted in a cakewalk for Mark Johnston’s Overwrite (11/10 fav). Smartly away under Franny Norton, the grey horse carrying grey colours made all the running. He came across to the stands rail and went clear in the penultimate furlong for a six length victory over Dashing Roger, a 40/1 debutant from a stable that does well here but isn’t noted for its two-year-olds.
Eve Johnson Houghton’s dual course winner Hedging made it three in the mile handicap, a distance he’d never won over before. Once Charles Bishop bagged the desired position against the stands rail three furlongs out, his prospects were much better than his 14/1 SP indicated, and he stayed on stoutly to beat Kyllachys Tale by nearly three lengths.
Two horses stood out in the novices stakes for two-year-olds over a mile, and punters who declined to bet odds on were happy when the second favourite Oleksander (9/4) got the better of a duel with Light Angel. Archie Watson’s colt scored by a length to make it two wins from two runs, both under David Egan. Inca Man ran on well to finish only a neck away in third.
A drop in trip to ten furlongs worked wonders for Hermocrates (10/1), who’d been running over as much as half and a mile further. Prominent for most of the race, he led the stands side group two out and then drifted across to join Jumping Jack, who’d stayed on the far side and might even have led at one stage. In the final furlong Hermocrates was definitely ahead, and came in about three lengths in front of Hammy End to complete doubles for Richard Hannon and Rossa Ryan.
Next came a hands and heels race for apprentices over 1m4f. The Sylvester Kirk-trained Royal Dancer (9/2) coasted into the lead two out but before long he had run out of petrol on the testing ground, as had most of his opponents. Suddenly Mistress Nellie emerged from the pack, seemingly going twice as fast, but she failed to get up by a short head. It was a first career win for Elinor Jones on only her eighth ride, and all the more welcome for coming three days after a nasty spill at Wolverhampton when her saddle slipped.
Finally, a 5f dash that was won by Firenze Rosa (11/2). A narrow defeat at Bath a week ago indicated that John Bridger’s filly was in good form. She was the last one to come off the bridle today and took up the running approaching the final furlong. Seven-pound claimer Aled Beech rode her to a fairly comfortable success. Major Pusey ran on well to finish a length and a quarter away in second place.