Alben Star, winner of the inaugural £150,000 Unibet All-Weather Sprint in 2014, repeated the victory today, scoring decisively by two and a quarter lengths from Lancelot Du Luc (4/1) with 5/2 favourite Goken a further three quarters of a length away in third.
The eight-year-old won the six-furlong feature at 25/1 in 2014, was second last year and triumphed at 7/1 today.
David Nolan, partnering Alben Star for the second time on the horse’s 40th start, said: “It is absolutely fantastic, especially to get a big one like this so early in the year.
“Alben Star really likes it here and, on the big day when they go a strong pace, it seems to suit him down to the ground.
“Richard (Fahey – Yorkshire-based trainer who was not present as he is in Dubai) and the team have got him spot on for the race and I am fortunate to be able to ride him.
“I had a great draw (5), especially with the two reserves being drawn two and three. I had a plan beforehand and it panned out just as I thought it might.
“You need the splits turning in, but he got into a lovely rhythm and I knew he would find as long as he got a bit of room. You need a bit of luck and fortunately we got it.
“They’ve fancied him for a long time for this, aimed him at the race. He won it two years ago, was second last year.
“He finished strong. This is the sort of race where they go very quick – he’s the sort of horse who needs time to find his feet and if they go quick enough he will come home. I got a good draw, and a good slot in the race, and it all went lovely.”
Alben Star is owned by Ken Shannon and Mick Scaife.
“He’s been trained for this day,” said Shannon, “and Richard [Fahey] and the team at home have done a great job to get him fit to be able to be here.
“This is his target from one year to the next, and will be his target again next year if we can keep him in one piece.
“He may be eight, but because of his injuries he hasn’t got that many miles on the clock. He can still go up them gallops, and he’s come here fresh. He was injured last year and he had box rest and was brought along steady and the trainer and the boys have done a great job.”
LANCELOT DU LAC PLEASES WINSTON
Robert Winston was pleased with Lancelot Du Lac’s two and a quarter-length second to Alben Star in the Unibet All-Weather Sprint Championships.
“We probably didn’t get a lead for long enough. Bosham folded pretty quickly on the home turn and left Lancelot Du Lac in front a tad bit too soon,” said Winston of the 4/1 chance.
“You have to give the winner credit and he beat him well in the end. But it was a great race to ride in.
“You will probably see him better over five furlongs. I think he will come on from the run and we will have some big targets on the turf over five furlongs this season.”
Goken, was sent off the 5/2 favourite, got a bit keen in the stalls and knocked his tooth out when he hit the front of the gates before the off and trainer Kevin Ryan was pleased with his third place considering the mishap at the start.
The trainer said: “He got a lovely sit, but he anticipated the start and hit the front of the gates and knocked a tooth out, so considering that I’m delighted with him.”
2.10pm £150,000 Unibet All-Weather Sprint Championships, 6f
For four-year-olds and upwards who, after October 28, 2015, and before March 19, 2016, have run three times on a designated All-Weather surface in Great Britain, Ireland or France, OR have run three times during the Championship period, including twice on a designated All-Weather surface in Great Britain, Ireland or France AND have run at least once at Meydan (Dirt) OR have won an “All-Weather sprint Fast-Track qualifier” race. Weights: Colts and geldings 9st 5lb; fillies 9st. Maximum field of 12 (plus 2 reserves).
1) 5 ALBEN STAR (IRE) 8 9-05 J K Shannon & M A Scaife Richard Fahey David Nolan 7/1
2) 13 LANCELOT DU LAC (ITY) 6 9-05 Michael & Heather Yarrow Dean Ivory Robert Winston 4/1
3) 1 GOKEN (FR) 4 9-05 Guy Pariente Kevin Ryan Graham Lee 4/2 Fav
4) 9 BOOM THE GROOM (IRE) 5 9-05 Gary Attwood Tony Carroll William Carson 16/1
5) 7 REALIZE 6 9-05 JKB Racing Stuart Williams Andrea Atzeni 5/1
6) 8 RUSSIAN SOUL (IRE) 8 9-05 Antoinette Kavanagh Michael Halford IRE Shane Foley 25/1
7) 6 INTRANSIGENT 7 9-05 Kingsclere Racing Club Andrew Balding Oisin Murphy 16/1
8) 14 LIGHTSCAMERACTION (IRE) 4 9-05 LCA Lights Camera Action Ltd Gay Kelleway Luke Morris 16/`
9) 11 RIVELLINO 6 9-05 Melba Bryce Karl Burke Dougie Costello 11/1
10) 12 CHOOKIE ROYALE 8 9-05 Raeburn Brick Limited Keith Dalgleish Tom Eaves 16/1
11) BOSHAM 6 9-05 Peter Easterby Mick Easterby Adam Kirby 20/1
12) 4 GAMGOOM 5 9-05 Guido Werner Hermann Schmitt Mario Hofer GER Martin Harley 12/1
Time: 1m 09.77s
Distances: 2¼, ¾, sh, nk, nk, ½, 2½, 1, 1¼, hd, 2¼
Tote Win: £10.20 Places £3.30, £1.90, £1.30 Exacta: £43.00