Bangkok and Exalted Angel booked their Finals Day places with narrow victories in the Fast-Track Qualifiers at Lingfield Park this afternoon, Saturday, February 6.
Last year’s winner Bangkok (Andrew Balding) enjoyed a repeat success in the Listed Betway Winter Derby Trial (10f) and is now guaranteed a start in the Betway Easter Classic on Good Friday, April 2.
In what was a tactical affair with five runners, the heavily supported 8/13 favourite only needed to be pushed out with hands and heels by Ryan Moore for a snug half-length success.
Felix (Marco Botti/Richard Kingscote) finished strongly from last place to grab second, with Forest Of Dean (John Gosden/Robert Havlin) close up in third.
Andrew Balding said: “We are really pleased because he has done it nicely and not had too hard a race. That was our intention and Ryan gave him a lovely ride.
“The horse settled very well, and Ryan was following the right horses, in touch to strike when he thought it was time to.
“That was just what we wanted because we have accepted an invitation for the Saudi Cup in a fortnight’s time, so we were hoping he could get the race won without having too hard a race.
“Running on the dirt will obviously be an experiment and we won’t know until we try, but I have always thought strongly run races like that would suit him well. As long as he comes out today’s race well, he will be going there in perfect condition.”
Moore, who was partnering Bangkok for the first time, said: “He is a lovely horse. He has high class form and has won Group races.
“He has shown a good turn of foot here, as he has done previously. I think they are three smart horses because we picked up very well in the straight.
“It was nice to be asked to ride him today and he has done what he was entitled to do.”
Exalted Angel (Karl Burke/Clifford Lee) denied Fizzy Feet and her owner Dave Lowe a fairy tale success in the Listed Betway Kachy Stakes (6f), a Fast-Track Qualifier for the Betway All-Weather Sprint Championship on Good Friday.
Fizzy Feet (David Loughnane/Rossa Ryan) attempted to make all of the running, just as she did over the course and distance last month, with Exalted Angel well positioned in second on her outside.
The pair had it between them swinging off the bend and Exalted Angel chipped away at the lead all the way up the home straight, eventually getting up to score by a neck. The 11/4 favourite Misty Grey (Tom Dascombe/Richard Kingscote) stayed on well down the outside to grab third, a further neck behind.
This was a first attempt over six furlongs for 20/1 shot Exalted Angel, who finished fourth in a Fast-Track Qualifier at Newcastle on January 12.
Clifford Lee said: “We always knew he had ability and up in trip today he has obviously loved it.
“He is normally quite slow out of the gates whereas today he was very quick out of them and being able to get that nice position early doors has helped us.
“Fizzy Feet nicked half a length off us coming around the bend, but my lad has a turn of foot and really dug deep.
“Riding on any day is a big day for me, especially when you are riding winners. The boss and the owner have been brilliant for giving me these opportunities.”