Witch Hunter swoops for Hungerford Stakes glory

Witch Hunter added to his Royal Ascot gains when coming with a flying late run to win the BetVictor Hungerford Stakes at Newbury.

Always highly regarded, it has taken the Richard Hannon-trained four-year-old until now to finally start delivering on the undoubted promise those closest to him knew he possessed.

He has certainly been busy during the past nine months, having had a full season on the all-weather before reappearing in the Lincoln.

After that he was second on All-Weather Finals Day and since then he has been relatively consistent, with the highlight being a brave Jamie Spencer ride to win the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Ascot when 50-1.

Sent off 12-1 on this occasion, his stablemate Chindit was expected to prove tough to beat, but the 2-1 favourite found little when asked for an effort by Pat Dobbs and was only third.

New Endeavour looked to have seen them all off until Witch Hunter was produced last of all by Sean Levey and he won going away by a length.

“He’s improved all year and William (Stobart, owner) has always been a great supporter of the yard,” said Hannon.

“He won at Royal Ascot and you can’t get better then that, but it was always my intention to run him in the Great St Wilfrid and I only changed my mind when it started raining.

“I’m a bit disappointed with Chindit, but he’s not as good when confronted with a rain-softened surface. Two out he looked the winner, but then the wheels started spinning and he was treading water.

“Chindit was the best horse and you couldn’t see him (Witch Hunter) winning, but looking back he was very unlucky not to win the all-weather championships at Lingfield, while Jamie Spencer gave him a great ride at Ascot.

“Chindit will go to Mr Poonawalla’s stud in India.”

Levey said: “There was plenty of pace on with good horses to aim at. He had the perfect elements to be able to make a good show of himself and he’s turned up today.”

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