Jumby showed his love of seven furlongs once again in claiming the Sky Bet John of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock on Saturday.
Eve Johnson Houghton’s son of New Bay won the Group Two Hungerford Stakes over the distance last summer and avoiding a penalty for that success here, the 9-4 favourite made full use of that advantage to get the better of Australian raider The Astrologist in the closing stages.
Dropping back in both trip and grade having beaten on horse home in the Lockinge Stakes last time, Jumby was positioned towards the rear by jockey Charlie Bishop as The Astrologist was out of the gates and quickly into stride in the hands of Ryan Moore.
However, the long Haydock straight provided Bishop with all the time he needed to set about catching the strapping Australian speedster and with Karl Burke’s El Caballo suffering interference at a crucial moment, Jumby was given plenty of daylight to make his challenge, cruising to a cosy one-and-a-half-length success in the closing stages.
Johnson Houghton said: “Seven furlongs is the right trip, but seven furlongs is also the hardest trip to find and he also doesn’t want soft ground, so we have to just pick our way through.
“He’s a brilliant horse who is very good in Group Threes, he’s won a Group Two and there’s no reason why he couldn’t win another one.
“He’d have to carry a lot of weight in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot (over six furlongs), but when you see the size of him I don’t think weight bothers him very much, so we’ll see.
“We’ll take him home, scratch our heads and have a think about it, but today is a great day and he did it like we expected him to. It was like a bit of work for him and he did it with a smile on his face.”
Johnson Houghton felt Jumby simply did not stay a mile at Newbury, but is not ruling out a crack at that distance in the Breeders’ Cup later this year.
She added: “We tried to go to the Lockinge and the times guys tell me he did the fastest six furlongs between the one to the seven, but he didn’t get the mile.
“Maybe if we really smuggled him into it he might get it, but we’ll obviously look at the Lennox at Goodwood over seven, the Hungerford at Newbury which he won last year, the Foret in France and we might have to travel further with him.
“We could have a little look at the Breeders’ Cup Mile, why not? I think he might get a mile round a bend and if they pay us to go why not give it a crack?”
The Astrologist, who is trained by Leon and Troy Corstens, posted an improved effort on his British bow, when he finished seventh in the Duke of York Stakes and is on course for Royal Ascot.
Assistant trainer Dom Sutton said: “It was definitely a step in the right direction. Ryan said he thought he was on the winner three furlongs out. He was probably just found wanting in the last 50 yards stepping up to seven furlongs on his second start (in Britain).
“It will put him cherry ripe for Ascot, so he should be at peak fitness. We’ll freshen him up going into Ascot.”