Never Back Down (Hugo Palmer/Josephine Gordon, 10/1) came with a strong late run to win the £15,000 32Red.com Conditions Stakes (7.45pm) at Wolverhampton on Saturday, December 9.
The six-furlong Tapeta contest was a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 32Red 3 Year Old All-Weather Championships Conditions Stakes, staged over the same distance on Polytrack at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, March 30. Never Back Down’s victory at Wolverhampton this evening means that he now has a free and automatic place in that contest.
The two-year-old Kodiac colt was short of room in the first furlong and dropped to the rear after being hampered as Joegogo (David Evans/Fran Berry, 25/1) and Izzy Bizu (Mark Johnston/Richard Kingscote, 18/1) disputed the early running.
Never Back Down, running in the colours of M M Stables, was hampered again as the field entered the final two furlongs and it looked like it was going to be a match between the two market principals, Godolphin’s Sound And Silence (Charlie Appleby/Adam Kirby, 10/11 Fav) and Corinthia Knight (Archie Watson/Luke Watson, 7/4).
After entering the straight a long way off the pace, Never Back Down was delivered with a challenge on the outside and showed a tremendous change of gears to take up the running inside the final furlong, going on to win by a length. Music Society (Sylvester Kirk/Ben Curtis, 14/1) also stayed on from the rear to take second with Corinthia Knight another head away in third.
The winning time was 1m 13.72s.
Winning jockey Josephine Gordon said: “It was a bit of a surprise really. The race was very messy early on as there were so many front runners and everyone wanted to get on and try and make it. I planned on being box seat but unfortunately things didn’t go to plan and I nearly came down at one point.
“The horse has so much ability though – everything has gone wrong and he has still won the race. Today was also the first time he has been round a bend and he hung a bit.
“We have always had high hopes for Never Back Down and he is going the right way at the moment. Hugo and his owners have been such big supporters of me this year and it’s a dream come true. It makes it easier riding nice horses like this lad.”
Gordon brought up a 59.5/1 double when going on to land the richest race of the evening, the 14-furlong £20,000 Betway Casino Handicap (8.15pm), aboard Velvet Revolution (Marco Botti, 9/2).
The four-year-old was brought with a steady run from off the pace and got up within the shadows of the post to score by a short-head from Cohesion (David Bridgwater/Adam Kirby, 11/4). The 13/8 favourite Watersmeet (Mark Johnston/Richard Kingscote) was withdrawn at the start after breaking loose from the stalls.
Gordon said: “I knew my last two rides had good chances and this lad had a nice weight (8st 9lb). I have ridden him before and Marco said he likes to be kidded along and left to do his own thing.
“I thought I might have got there too soon, even though we had a lot of ground to make up. I know it was tight at the finish, but I think he has probably won quite comfortably.
“I always thought I was going to get there. The horse has got the ability – it’s just a case of whether he wants to put it in and tonight he has.”