Mighty Markaz completes a double for in-form Dane O’Neill at Newmarket
- Credit: PA
Jockey Dane O’Neill continued a current purple patch as he landed a Group Three success as part of a double at Newmarket’s July course on Saturday.
O’Neill bagged a top prize in the John Sunley Memorial Criterion Stakes thanks to Markaz. The Barry Hills-trained grey has posted several near-misses since breaking his maiden tag almost a year ago.
But he returned to winning ways in style, dispelling pre-race fears about the ground with a fine display.
Code Red made the running on the far rail, with O’Neill never far away.
As they approached the last of the seven furlongs, Markaz seized control and powered away to score at 6/1.
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He hit the line with a length and three-quarters to spare from the 5-2 favourite Hors De Combat. Lincoln was a further length away third.
O’Neill said: “He deserves it. It’s his day in the sun. He is consistent, tough and honest. He would prefer a bit of cut, but he is in such good form and it is safe ground.”
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O’Neill had earlier won the opening seven-furlong maiden on newcomer Ibn Malik at 11/1 for trainer Charlie Hills.
Sir Michael Stoute was another who might have been forgiven for concerns about the fast nature of the ground as he reintroduced Gospel Choir in Listed company after a 407-day injury lay-off.
The talented six-year-old returned in the Fred Archer Stakes. The two-time Group Two winner showed he fully retains his appetite for racing with a battling victory over Dubday.
The even-money favourite, ridden by Ryan Moore, got the better of Frankie Dettori and Dubday in a thrilling photo-finish.
Gospel Choir, got the nod from the judge, who gave the victory margin as a short head.
Stoute said: “I am delighted with him. He is such a competitive horse. He has had his issues. The team has done a great job getting him back.”
Stoute doubled up when Angel Vision clinched her second win of the season, justifying 2-1 favouritism in the Fillies’ Handicap.
Katie’s Diamond may be on her travels after claiming a Listed success in the Animal Health Trust Empress Stakes.
Trainer Karl Burke is eyeing a couple of trips to France with Katie’s Diamond, who was carrying the colours of her new owners Qatar Racing for the first time.
The 2-1 favourite built on her Redcar debut win with victory under Andrea Atzeni.
Katie’s Diamond arrived late to score by a neck from White Bullet with long-time leader Bournemouth Belle third.
Burke said: “We’ve always thought an awful lot of this filly. She has a lot of ability, a lot of raw talent.”
Sound Reflection’s stamina held out as she won the Fillies’ Handicap for trainer Charlie Appleby. She was in front for all of the 12-furlong contest, but the victory margin was a diminishing head for the 13-2 shot, who kept at bay Moonrise Landing.
Champion jockey Richard Hughes rode Master The World to a 4/1 success in the 12-furlong handicap..
Earlier Hughes had revealed his ambition to start training as early as September or October, explaining it would depend on how soon his licence was granted.