Richard Hughes is within one winner of his first double century after winning on The Alamo at Windsor yesterday.
A second consecutive title looks secure, unless Ryan Moore can launch an astonishing recovery to make up the deficit of 16, and Hughes moves on to Lingfield today as he seeks to become the first jockey to make 200 in a season since Kieren Fallon ten years ago.
Most of the Irishman’s other rides finished nearer last than first, but he managed to coax the best out of 2-1 favourite The Alamo, who was slowly away and some way adrift of Richard Hannon-trained stablemate Midnight Rambler with a couple of furlongs of the R J Clyde Builders Nursery remaining.
However, The Alamo picked up nicely and beat the other Hannon runner by a length and a half. “He goes in that ground, which is always going to give you a chance,” said Hughes.
Meanwhile, Imperial Commander could be a surprise package for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on 30 November.
The 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero has been back in training for the last two months and connections are eyeing either the Betfair Chase at Haydock, which he won three years ago, or the big handicap chase at the Berkshire venue for his return.
The 12-year-old was sidelined with injury for nearly two years before a storming run back at Prestbury Park in January when he was second to Cape Tribulation in the Argento Chase.
He missed the Gold Cup itself with an infection and instead appeared in the Grand National, running prominently for some way before weakening and being pulled up at Becher’s Brook second time around.
“He’s been back in for a couple of months. It’s all going smoothly so far,” trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies’ assistant Carl Llewellyn told At The Races. “We got him back earlier this year than we’ve had in previous years. So far so good – he hasn’t missed a day. We’re looking forward to running him again.
“There’s Haydock or maybe the Hennessy. There’s talk about the Hennessy because his handicap mark has dropped now. He’s on 153, so he might go there.”
Elsewhere, trainer Harry Fry believes stable star Rock On Ruby could be in need of a wind operation following his disappointing performance at Kempton on Sunday.
Winner of the Champion Hurdle in 2012 and runner-up to Hurricane Fly at Cheltenham last season, the eight-year-old was readily swept aside by The New One as both horses made their seasonal returns at the Sunbury track.
Rock On Ruby has had issues with his wind in previous years and his trainer believes those problems may have resurfaced.
Fry said: “Essentially he’s fine, but we have got one or two niggly things to sort out, namely his wind, so all plans are on hold at the moment. He has had wind operations in the past and we’re going to check it out again this week. It’s possible he could have his palate cauterized.
“We were disappointed not to give The New One more of a race. He was very impressive on the day and we’ll have to go back to the drawing board. It was a disappointing run and we can’t blame it all on the wind issue. He will improve for the run.
“We’ll investigate this weekend and make plans from there.”
2.10 Lumpys Gold
2.40 Kentford Grey Lady
3.10 Minella Friend
5.40 Hero’s Story
7.40 Pleasure Beat
8.10 Everlasting Light
3.00 Courageous Rock
4.30 Desert Command,
5.00 Miguel Grau (nap)
5.30 Absolutely Right
2.20 Dorset Cream
3.20 Soul Instinct
3.50 Green Howard