Ancient Rome rules on first start for Charlie Hills

Ancient Rome shone on his first start for new connections when pouncing late to land the Coral Chesterfield Cup Handicap on the opening day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival.

The Charlie Hills-trained War Front colt was previously trained by Andre Fabre for Coolmore, but changed hands earlier in the season and then moved yards after three more runs for Fabre.

Last seen coming home third in the Group Three Prix Messidor at Chantilly, the four-year-old was a 33-1 chance under Jamie Spencer and had most of the field to pass approaching the two-furlong pole.

Spencer is a jockey who thrives in such situations, however, and the pair picked off their rivals to lunge over the line and win by a length in the end.

Hills said: “I haven’t had him very long, he’s only been with us a couple of weeks, but he’s a very laid-back individual.

“Jim and Fitri Hay are big supporters of this meeting, so we thought we’d give him a go and it’s paid off.

“When we saw the draw (stall 16) I thought it didn’t look good, but there was only one way to do it, which was to give him a chance and try to keep down the middle.

“He’s got some very good form from last year, he was fourth in the French Guineas, and while he’s obviously come down the handicap we’ll probably aim a little bit higher with him.

“That should have given him some confidence now.”

John Quinn’s Lord Riddiford flew to a third success in the Coral Handicap in the hands of Andrea Atzeni.

The eight-year-old landed the contest in both 2021 and 2022, but had been well beaten in two efforts this season.

Back over his favoured course and distance, the 8-1 winner cruised down the inside rail to cross the line a convincing three and a quarter lengths ahead of Stuart Williams’ Existent.

“He really, really likes this track, he ran quite well in the Dash (at Epsom), but the ground was a little bit quick for him,” Quinn said.

“We thought as he’s an old horse we’ll freshen him up for here and hope that he gets a bit of cut in the ground.

“We were more than hopeful. With these older horses, they need conditions to be ideal.

“Two-year-olds will probably go on ground a bit quicker than is ideal, but older horses need it ideal.

“When I was driving down yesterday there was rain all the way to London, which was lovely! It stopped a bit further on, and then when we got to Goodwood it was raining again and I thought, ‘lovely’. It’s great to see an eight-year-old bounce back and I’m delighted.”

Diego Dias’ first runner in Britain was a winning one as Mansa Musa claimed a hard-fought triumph in the British EBF 40th Anniversary Maiden Stakes.

The former jockey, who hails from Brazil, has been heavily involved in the bloodstock industry for some time and only recently switched to training.

Based on the Curragh, Dias has held his licence for four months but had a good deal of well-placed confidence in his runner, who started at 20-1 under Rossa Ryan, standing in for sidelined Hong Kong ace Vincent Ho.

Array, the 4-6 favourite, battled Mansa Musa all the way to the line but it was the latter who prevailed by a short head.

“We always liked this horse at home. We know he improved from the run and there’s a lot more to come from this horse.

“He’s a really nice horse, we always did like him even when he went to the breeze-up sales in Dubai.

“We didn’t sell him and had to bring him back, he’s just proven for us now how good he is.”

Of his background and journey into training Dias added: “I’m from Brazil, rode back home in Brazil in Rio and rode in Ireland as well.

“The past few years I’ve been doing breeze-ups, I just took out my licence this year and that’s my second winner. It’s great.

“I’m based at the Curragh, best place to be – the gallops are the best in the world!

“It’s going better than I imagined, but I came here very confident that he was going to put on a good show.”

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