Sennockian Star underscores buzz at Johnston’s stables

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Sennockian Star got this year’s Glorious Goodwood meeting off to a flier for Mark Johnston in a thrilling bet365.com Stakes.

The Middleham trainer has a tremendous record on the Sussex Downs and saddled three runners in the opening event of this year’s Festival.

As is often the case with runners from the yard, all three were ridden positively in the mile-and-a-quarter contest, with Sennockian Star tracking stable companions Salutation and Busatto in the hands of Joe Fanning.

Salutation and Busatto briefly looked to have shaken off the field when striking clear over a furlong out, but both Sennockian Star and the fast-finishing Ajman Bridge came from out of the pack to challenge.

Ajman Bridge looked sure to collect having being produced with a withering run by William Buick, but Sennockian Star refused to be beaten and stayed on determinedly to take the spoils by half a length.

Salutation and Busatto were third and fourth respectively in a great result for Johnston who said: “Before the race I said to my son Angus that a winner in the first would be great. As we were watching it, he said ‘we might get a one-two-three’ and I thought he was going to be right. It’s fantastic. The horses are just buzzing up the gallops.”

York’s Betfred Ebor – and then the Melbourne Cup – are lofty targets for Van Percy after Andrew Balding’s horse won the Bet365 Summer Handicap under former champion apprentice David Probert, whose career is beginning to take off.

“He’s tough, not very big, but all heart, and I thought David did a fantastic job from a draw that was not easy,” said Balding. “With a penalty now he is likely to get into the Ebor and that is an obvious target, and it is within the quarantine timings [to go to Australia] so that works out really well.

“He will be near the bottom of the weights in the Ebor, unbelievably, but that is handy.”

The race saw Paul Hanagan stood down after a heavy fall from White Nile.

He will have to pass the doctor if he is to take up intended rides at Sandown tonight.

Kingman and Toronado will face just two rivals when they put their lofty reputations on the line in today’s eagerly-awaited Sussex Stakes – the centrepiece of the five-day meeting – after Aidan O’Brien’s War Command was withdrawn due to lameness.

Skipton-born William Haggas has said Muthmir, the impressive winner of the Sky Bet Dash at York last Saturday, is an intended runner in the Stewards Cup this Saturday.