Forest Ranger held off hot favourite Deauville to claim top honours in the bet365 Earl Of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket. The Aidan O'Brien-trained Deauville was all the rage as the 6-4 marketplace leader, having his sights lowered significantly after rounding off 2017 with three consecutive appearances at Group One level.
Frankuus took the field along for much of the style, with Deauville and Richard Fahey's 8-1 shot Forest Ranger always his closest pursuers. When Frankuus wilted, Deauville and Forest Ranger moved up to dispute the leading, with Robin Of Navan briefly threatening to get involved. In the end, though, it turned into a straight duel and it was Forest Ranger who won the battle for the Group Three prize by half a length in the hands of Tony Hamilton.
Euginio beat Robin Of Navan to third place. Forest Ranger was listed in the official racecard as a colt, but was actually having his first run since being gelded.
Fahey said: “I only noticed this morning he was down as a colt. We should have notified them he'd been gelded. “We had him gelded at the end of last season. I don't know if that's made much of a difference. He's simply improving. “We felt he's such a big division we had to take some weight off. He wasn't being coltish or anything. “It was a proper Group Three and it looks like he's stepped up a gear. “I thought he'd need the race because he's quite a big chap and he's lazy at home. We dedicated him an away-day about 10 days ago and maybe that set him right.”
The master of Musley Bank is in no hurry to firm up future targets, adding:
“I have no plans for him. I'm not sure what trip he wants – a mile or a mile and a one-quarter. We'll have a discussion and see how he is. “I'm stuck in no man's land in my own intellect at the minute. “He could end up somewhere like the Eclipse, but the difficulty is I developed the sister and she didn't stay a mile and a one-quarter. She always looked like she would and I'm still in two minds about this guy. Brother and sister, you shouldn't compare the two, but she definitely looked like she'd stay and didn't. “He didn't stop there today. I was impressed with that. It's a tricky one.”
Connections of Deauville were pleased with the performance of the runner-up. Coolmore's UK representative Kevin Buckley told: “Ryan( Moore) was very happy with that run. It was his first run of the season. “We were concerned on the ground as it wasn't his ideal surface, but we couldn't be happier and we look forward to his next run.” Read more: attheraces.com