Speaking Horses: Epic Hero can win backers a small fortune at Sandown

The Fortune Stakes at Sandown on Wednesday promises to be one of the most interesting and competitive Listed events of the season, for all that there are just seven runners going to post. Bless Him, who is currently rated 105, looks outclassed and while Montatham, the narrow favourite, has plied his trade in handicaps so far, he has looked like a Group horse in the making ever since a win at Newmarket on 6 June.

Since that success, Montatham has finished a slightly unfortunate second in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot and then first, off 100 and 104, in races at Sandown and York. But he is still not a clear favourite this afternoon, as his rivals include two horses – Zaaki and Lavender’s Blue – with form in Group One company as well as Epic Hero (3.55), a close second in a fast-run Strensall Stakes at York last time.

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At the prices, Simon and Ed Crisford’s gelding could be the way to go. His run at York was his first start since February, when he won a handicap at Meydan off 101 having been revived by a switch from Andre Fabre to his current stable. He travelled like the best horse in the race for much of the way last time, will come on for the outing and looks a decent price at around 5-2.

Long Haired Lover (4.30) was behind two subsequent winners at Kempton Park last time and could have been let in lightly for her handicap debut on a mark of 77. Summit Fever (2.15) should also go well in the opener on the card, while at Beverley, Indian Sounds (4.35) should make the most of a low draw in the five-furlong handicap.

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Blue De Vega (3.45), another sprinter in top form, and Chapmanshype (5.10), a winner at Fontwell last time, are the pick of the prices at Yarmouth and Kelso respectively.

Beverley 1.15 Yorkshire Pirlo 1.50 Lazyitis 2.25 Zeyaadah 3.00 Branston Lion 3.35 Jupiter Road 4.05 Cottam Lane 4.35 Indian Sounds (nb) 5.05 Nablawyh

Yarmouth 2.00 Queen Of Burgundy  2.35 Ready To Venture 3.10 Virgin Snow 3.45 Blue De Vega 4.20 King Ragnar 4.50 Global Esteem 5.20 Many A Star

Sandown 2.15 Summit Fever 2.50 Just Fine 3.25 My Swallow 3.55 Epic Hero (nap) 4.30 Long Haired Lover 5.00 Baarrij 5.30 Kew Palace

Kelso 3.40 Calliope 4.10 C’Est Le Bonheur 4.40 Kiruna Peak 5.10 Chapmanshype 5.40 Havana Hermano 6.10 Dubai Outlaw 6.40 Fresh New Dawn 7.10 Flexi Furlough

Horse that tested positive for cocaine finally disqualified

A final footnote was added to the Classic-winning career of the former trainer Jeremy Noseda on Tuesday when Walk In The Sun, a winner at Kempton in January 2018, was disqualified for returning a post-race positive for cocaine and one of the performance-enhancing drug’s metabolites. Noseda, who announced his retirement from training “with immediate effect” in June 2019, was also fined £1,500.

Walk In The Sun was a 5-4 favourite for a novice stakes on 26 January and won by a short head. Rumours started to circulate in March 2018 that the colt had failed a post-race dope test and Walk In The Sun joined Martyn Meade before his next start in a Group Three at Royal Ascot in June 2018. The same month, it emerged that the banned substance in question was cocaine.

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The hearing on Tuesday was conducted via Zoom and was not open to the media following an application by Noseda’s legal team for it to be held in private. Noseda, who was represented by the solicitor Mark Edmondson, was present, and full written reasons for the disciplinary panel’s finding will be published in due course.

Walk In The Sun ran in the colours of the troubled Phoenix Thoroughbreds operation, which was recently suspended from running horses in Great Britain by the British Horseracing Authority “until further notice”. Noseda trained more than a dozen horses for Phoenix Thoroughbreds in 2017 and the early months of 2018, until a sudden split with the trainer which, as Noseda put it at the time, left him “shocked and surprised”.

Noseda’s big-race wins in a 21-year career included the 2006 St Leger with Sixties Icon and the Golden (now Diamond) Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot with Soldier’s Tale. He quit training in June 2019, a few months before Amer Abdulaziz, who founded Phoenix in 2017, was named in November 2019 as a key associate of a defendant in a major money-laundering trial in the US. Abdulaziz has denied any wrongdoing.

Noseda was introduced to Abdulaziz by his ex-wife Kerri Radcliffe, a bloodstock agent who was responsible for the majority of Phoenix Throughbreds’ initial purchases, including Walk In The Sun.

Radcliffe paid a sale record $1.4m for the son of Street Sense at the Arqana Breeze-Up sale in France in May 2017, realising a huge profit for the Irish Mocklershill pinhooking operation in the process. Mocklershill had paid just $15,000 for Walk In The Sun at the Keeneland Yearling sale eight months earlier. In all, she spent more than $20m on behalf of Phoenix Thoroughbreds at bloodstock sales in 2017, but herself split with the operation in 2018, a few months after separating from Noseda.

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