Battalion maintained his perfect record for Lambourn trainer Jamie Osborne with a dominant victory in the £40,000 Listed Betway Quebec Stakes (2.00pm) over 10 furlongs on Polytrack at Lingfield Park on Saturday, December 17.
The six-year-old, sent off a 9/2 chance after scoring impressively over the course and distance on his first start for Osborne in a conditions race on November 30, travelled well throughout under William Carson and quickened strongly down the inside to take the lead entering the final furlong.
He soon opened up daylight over his six rivals and ran on well in the closing stages to beat 9/4 shot Dubai Fashion (Saeed bin Suroor/Pat Cosgrave) by a length and a half in 2m 4.06s.
William Carson commented: “Jamie has kept Battalion ticking over since he won at the end of last month and hasn’t done a lot with him.
“We didn’t do a lot with him before he won last time and that is why we were a little bit surprised because he was so impressive that day.
“He travels so well – he was cruising at the top of the bend – and, as soon as you let him go, he takes off. It’s like driving a Ferrari and he is the best that I have sat on for a long time.”
Ian Barratt of Melbourne 10 Racing, who purchased Battalion for 70,000 guineas at Tattersalls in October, said: “We were going to go to Dubai with Battalion but he won so well last time and the obvious plan now is to stay here for the Winter Derby Trial (£45,000, Listed, February 4, Lingfield Park), the Winter Derby (£100,000, G3, February 25, Lingfield Park) and then the big race on Finals Day (£200,000 Betway Middle Distance Championships, April 14, Lingfield Park).
“He used to run in cheekpieces but maybe the change in scenery has helped him. Last time was a fact-finding mission and he bolted up, whereas today was more a question of seeing how good he might be.”
Reigning All-Weather Horse of the Year Grendisar (Marco Botti/George Baker), the 15/8 favourite, stayed on from the rear to take third, half a length behind Dubai Fashion.
Marco Botti said: “George Baker was saying that this race should put Grendisar spot on.
“Grendisar ran a respectable race – Battalion has always been a nice horse at his best and Dubai Fashion is not a bad filly either.
“We ended up behind Mercy Me and he was taking us a bit further back than we wanted. George didn’t want to pull him out because he would have been trapped wide, so he had to sit and suffer a bit whereas Battalion had the first run.
“It is no disgrace to finish third and, as long as he comes on again, we should have him spot on for the Winter Derby and Finals Day. The next logical target will be the Winter Derby Trial and then on to the other two races.”
Pinzolo (Ismail Mohammed) made all of the running to take the 12-furlong £19,000 Download The Betway App Handicap (12.15pm) under Sean Levey.
The 5/2 favourite kicked clear in the straight and had plenty in reserve to beat Barye (Richard Hughes/Shane Kelly) by two and a quarter lengths.
Mike Marshall, assistant trainer to the Newmarket trainer, said: “A mile and a half suited Pinzolo today and he had a nice, easy time which was quite nice. All he does is gallop and grind them down.
“He may step up in trip again and two miles is a possibility – we will see how he comes out of the race.”
Sean Levey commented: “We were confident coming here today and I thought that Pinzolo would step up from his last run, which was over a mile and two furlongs. He stays very well, so I jumped out and let him use himself. No one wanted to make the running and away he went.
“I was picking up the fractions with every furlong and there is no doubt that he will stay two miles. He’s won over a mile and a half and has the option of staying over that trip, going two miles or anything in between.”
Elsewhere on the card, recent 90,000 guineas purchase Mr Scaramanga produced an immediate return for his new owners and Epsom trainer Simon Dow when edging out Ocean Promise in the opening 32Red.com Novice Stakes (11.45am) over a mile.
The 99-rated Sir Percy colt had shown a high level of form during the Flat season for Richard Hannon, finishing third in the G2 Superlative Stakes, but the 30/100 favourite was made to work hard by the runner-up before asserting near the line to prevail by a head.
It was a first success for champion jockey Jim Crowley, who went on to record a near 9/1 treble on the card, since his return from injury and a sixth winner in eight runners for the in-form Dow.
The trainer commented: “We can’t stop winning at the moment, although I am sure that it will be back to normal soon!
“We are talking about whether to take Mr Scaramanga out to Dubai or continue with him over here during the winter. If we stayed here, we could think of him as an All-Weather Championships contender and, by the same token, we have asked for him to go to Dubai and they have accepted him as a nomination.
“If he went to Dubai, he would have to run in the 2,000 Guineas Trial and the 2,000 Guineas. Hombre Rojo went out there last year for me and finished third in the 2,000 Guineas and fourth in the Al Bastakiya but he unfortunately got injured.
“We could count a run on dirt at Meydan as an All-Weather Championships appearence but it would be very tough to go out there, come back and get another run into him ahead of Good Friday. It has all got to pan out in terms of timing – it is quite a tight timeframe.
“The owners bought him with the aim of having a bit of fun. He has a big rating and looks and honest, solid horse. They wanted a horse to run at the nice meetings and, as an aside, we have the options of Dubai and the All-Weather Championships on the table. We will take a view about which way to go at some point.”
Jim Crowley added: “Simon has always been a big supporter of mine, so it is nice to have a winner for him and his horses have been absolutely on fire. Mr Scaramanga is a nice little horse – he was a good buy and I think he will keep progressing.”
Every All-Weather race run in Britain between October 27, 2016, and Good Friday, April 14, 2017, is part of the All-Weather Championships