Highland Avenue stamps class on Darley Stakes

Highland Avenue completed a Group race hat-trick for Charlie Appley and William Buick when landing the Earthlight Darley Stakes at Newmarket.

Appleby has endured a quiet season by his own high standards, but following victories for promising juveniles Dance Sequence, Arabian Crown and Ancient Wisdom over the last two days, the Moulton Paddocks yard has plenty to look forward to in 2024.

While the two-year-olds have dominated, Highland Avenue struck a blow for the older inmates when cantering away with the nine-furlong Group Three.

The five-year-old won the Feilden Stakes back in 2021 but had not struck gold since, after struggling to make his mark in some tough tests.

However, he thrived on easy ground at Headquarters and fairly flew home to win by four lengths as the 11-4 favourite.

Appleby said: “Fair play to him, he led all those gallopers early in the season, Adayar and Hurricane Lane and the likes. Coming back to the track on this ground, we were confident he would run a big race and he deserved to win one himself.

“He won the Feilden Stakes here as a three-year-old and we lost our way slightly after that, but this year he’s been a hell of a lead horse and that’s predominantly what his job has been for the season.

“We came to this time of the year and we felt this race was there to suit him with the trip and the ground and as William said, he’s still got plenty of life in him – he dragged him to the two (furlong marker) and never felt like he was going to be beaten to be fair.

“Bless him, he’ll probably just stay around here over the winter and we’ll see him back in the spring on the Limekilns!”

Connections of Fair Angellica are dreaming of a possible appearance at Royal Ascot next summer after the Richard Hughes-trained filly maintained her unbeaten record in the Godolphin Flying Start Nursery.

Previously successful on the all-weather at Kempton and Chelmsford, the daughter of Harry Angel successfully switched to the turf to complete her hat-trick in the hands of David Egan.

Wendy Miller, the winner’s owner-breeder, said: “I’m a shaking wreck, I’m afraid. I foaled her, she’s a homebred and we just love her.

“She looked very gangly and Bambi-fied coming down the hill, but David said as soon as she hit the rising ground, she flew.

“Three wins on the trot, she’s unbeaten and that’s it for this year. Richard was pretty confident and black type will be next. Perhaps we could look at the Sandringham or something like that next year.”

Funny Story claimed the closing Pinatubo British EBF Boadicea Stakes for Ralph Beckett and Rossa Ryan.

It looked as though Sophia’s Starlight was going to take home the Listed prize, but Funny Story finished with a flourish to edge her out by a head on the line.

Beckett’s assistant trainer Joe Tuite said: “She travelled and relaxed well for Rossa (Ryan) and she toughed it out. She has been due a win as she has run some good races this year without getting her head in front.

“She ran well in a Listed race at Pontefract, but we feel she never settled when she went overnight to Ayr last time. She didn’t relax and you can put a line through Ayr as she didn’t take the overnight stay.

“Twice she has been up there and twice she has disappointed, so I don’t think she will be travelling up north again.

“She has shown a very good attitude, and she could improve again.”

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