Second Thought came with a strong run to beat favourite Sutter County (Mark Johnston/P J McDonald) in the £19,000 Smarter Bets With Matchbook Betting Exchange Conditions Stakes, a Fast-Track Qualifier, over six furlongs on Polytrack at Kempton Park on Tuesday, January 17.
Trained by William Haggas and ridden by the in-form Robert Winston, the progressive three-year-old Kodiac colt has gained a free and automatic place in the £150,000 32Red All-Weather Three-Year-Old Championships Conditions Stakes over the same distance and surface at Lingfield Park on the All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 14.
Second Thought, a 3/1 chance after winning a maiden easily at Wolverhampton last month, was held up on the inside, just last of the five runners, as Tomily (Richard Hannon/Sean Levey, 3/1) made the running, with the 9/4 market leader Sutter County a close second on the outside.
Sutter County challenged in the straight and took the lead with a furlong and half remaining, while Second Thought improved to third and then was switched outside.
The winner ran on well to take the lead in the closing stages and had a neck to spare at the line over Sutter County, finishing placed in a third Fat-Track Qualifier, who beat the third, Tomily, by five lengths. The winning time was 1m 12.13s.
Bloodstock agent Jill Lamb, who buys all of owner Liam Sheridan’s horses, commented: “It was the plan for Second Thought to go for this Fast-Track Qualifier and then the Final.
“William, who is on holiday in South Africa, has always thought a lot of Second Thought who picked up an injury after his debut second at Salisbury in May and had to miss the rest of the turf season.
“The Gimcrack Stakes had been talked of as a possible target and now Second Thought will be aimed at Good Friday. I don’t know whether he will have a run before then – we will just have to see.
“Second Thought, who I bought as a yearling for 70,000 guineas at Tattersalls Book Two, is a great trier and Robert Winston rode him very well.”
Winston added: “We had a nice position, just tucked in off the pace, and he really picked up in the straight and has got on top quite well in the end.
“We beat the form horse of the race and Second Thought is really nice – they thought a bit about him beforehand – and lightly-raced. He is sure to improve again.
“I have rides from time to time for Mr Haggas, though this is probably the first winner. I normally ride for Mr Sheridan, the owner, and he kindly put me in for the mount and it is good to win on a nice horse for him.
“This is probably the best month I have had for about three years (nine winners so far) and long may I continue – I am riding with plenty of confidence at the moment.”
Second Thought was Haggas’s third winner from five runners so far in 2017, while Winston celebrated his fourth winner in five rides, having enjoyed three consecutive successes at Wolverhampton on January 14 and 16.