A courageous front-running performance from Titi Makfi (Mark Johnston/Franny Norton) saw her take the honours in the £45,000 32Red Floodlit Stakes (2.50pm) over a mile and a half on Polytrack at Kempton Park on Monday, November 6.
The three-year-old Makfi filly, returned at 12/1, soon led and took the eight-strong field along at a good pace. She faced a series of challengers entering the final quarter-mile but saw them all off, getting the better of the strongly-finishing Red Verdon (Ed Dunlop/P J McDonald, 8/1) by a head with Dylan Mouth (Marco Botti/Adam Kirby, 11/2) another length back in third. The winning time was 2m 31.91s.
The winning stable was also represented by Soldier In Action (Jim Crowley, 16/1), who stayed on inside the final furlong to come home in fourth.
Titi Makfi, owned by Paul and Clare Rooney, was recoding her sixth win of 2017. Today was both her first Listed and first All-Weather success.
Charlie Johnston, assistant trainer to his Yorkshire-based father, said: “Titi Makfi is fantastic. On June 1, this filly was rated 70 and that is now her sixth win of the year.
“Back in May, the brief from Paul and Clare [Rooney, owners] was to win a race, then once we won one it was to win some small black type, which she did at Hannover last time, and then to get some big black type.
“Ability obviously plays a big part, but when you have a filly with an attitude like her, it makes life so much easier. When P J [McDonald] got to her on Red Verdon, she stuck her head down and found some more. Seventy five yards out, I thought we were in trouble, but Franny said he let her lean over towards the other horse and as soon she felt it upsides her, she went again.
“She has been a real star for us and it is brilliant that she has improved so much. I am not sure she will carry on next year. I would love to keep her in the yard and try to progress further, but she is going to great broodmare for Paul and Clare further down the line.
“The plan for Soldier In Action is to be aimed at the All-Weather Marathon final, which was the whole point of him coming here today as that is the first of his three qualifying runs. He will come back here on November 22 for a two-mile race, then have a little break with one more run before the final.
“I was really pleased with him because I knew once Franny assumed control and wasn’t going overly quick, it was always going to be a sharp test for Soldier In Action. His best form is at a mile and six furlongs really. I loved the way he stayed on – he was finishing better than anything in the last furlong – and that was a nice trial with the Marathon Championships in mind.
“He stayed a mile and six strongly on turf when he won at Glorious Goodwood, so I think two miles on the All-Weather should be well within his compass.”
Elsewhere on the seven-race card, progressive three-year-old Ply (Roger Charlton/William Buick)completed a hat-trick of wins at Kempton Park as he flew home to take the 11-furlong £70,000 32Red London Middle Distance Series Final Handicap (3.20pm).
The 10/11 favourite, recently purchased by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum for 165,000 guineas, had virtually the whole field in front of him turning for home but ran on strongly after being switched out by William Buick to score by a length over 20/1 chance Royal Reserve (David O’Meara/Adam Kirby) in 2m 20.25s.
Buick, fresh from riding a first Breeders’ Cup winner aboard Wuheida at Del Mar on November 4, said: “Ply missed the break ever so slightly and I got myself on the inside. It was a position where I was getting taken back rather than going forward, but I had plenty of horse underneath me.
“There was no point messing around – I pulled him to the outside and let him gallop – and he gave me a very nice feel in the end. He has done well to win today and must be good to win from where he did.
“I presume the plan is to go Dubai and he has plenty of progression in him.”