The five-year-old asserted in the closing stages to be a clear-cut winner over Santiago and Sir Ron Priestley, in the hands of William Buick 24 hours after the in-form jockey won the feature Dante Stakes on Epsom Derby contender Hurricane Lane.
Andrew Balding’s globe-trotter was having his third run of the year after racing in Saudi Arabia and Dubai in the winter.
Buick had the 11-2 shot, winner of last year’s Doncaster Cup, at the back of the five-runner field as Tim Easterby’s Wells Farhh Go made the running from the favoruite Sir Ron Priestley.
There was little change in the order until in the straight when Wells Farhh Go weakened after being off the track for 587 days.
Sir Ron Priestley hit the front but could not put the race to bed and faded in the final furlong.
That left Spanish Mission to come home two and a three-quarter lengths clear of Santiago, last year’s Irish Derby winner, with Sir Ron Priestley, only third.
Buick was full of praise for Spanish Mission – he began his career with the Baldings and will be hoping that this connection pays off throughout 2021 as he seeks a first jockeys’ title.
“He hasn’t got many blips in his career, and they’re only when the ground is bad or just unfortunate,” said the victorious jockey.
“He travelled smoothly today, and over this trip he’s got that bit of a turn of foot, that tactical pace. He’s a lovely horse.”
The winning trainer’s wife Anna Lisa Balding confirmed too a move back up in trip from this mile and three-quarters will be Spanish Mission’s next assignment at Royal Ascot.
“Ascot’s obviously the plan, the Gold Cup,” she said. “William was very impressed with him – what a lovely horse to have on the yard.
“He’s in great form (after his winter travels). He loves it, he loves to get some air miles I’d say! Dubai just didn’t work – it was the second time he’d run a bad race in Dubai. He’s got some pace too, hasn’t he? We’re just so pleased.”
Middleham trainer Mark Johnston said of Sir Ron Priestley: “He went to the front like he was cantering and had them all at it – and for whatever reason didn’t get home.
“Why he should fail to get home today, I don’t know. There doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with him, but we’ll see.”
Stablemate Nayef Road was last of the five runners and Johnston said this run, too, was “out of character”. “Maybe they’ve gone an awful lot faster than we all thought. It will be interesting to see how the time comes out,” he reflected.
Meanwhile there was further success for the aforementioned Balding team when Nymphadora claimed a clear-cut victory in the Langleys Solicitors British EBF Marygate Fillies’ Stakes.
Sixth behind the exciting Desert Dreamer on her racecourse debut at Newmarket last month, the juvenile was stepping up to Listed class on the Knavesmire and Jason Watson’s mount moved to the front passing the two-furlong marker.
While several challengers attempted to reel her in, the daughter of No Nay Never refused to yield and passed the post with a length and a quarter in hand. The Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot will be next.
Watson said: “She showed ability on her first run and that day she kind of jumped slow and ended up leading the race.
“She’s come on plenty for that today, she travelled like a real star.
“She got to the front and was looking around her, obviously still a bit green with it being her second run.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if she did a stay a bit further, there’s obviously a bit more in the tank.
“She’s obviously shown she can do it over five (furlongs) today, she’s not short of speed.
“Maybe with a bit more time she can go over six, it’ll be interesting to see what she can do - she gave me a really nice feel.”
Meanwhile Boardman obliged in the Jigsaw Sports Branding Handicap for Great Habton trainer Tim Easterby and jockey David Allan.
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