Endless Drama runs a cracker to make Lockinge frame

Endless Drama ran a fantastic race to finish third in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

Endless Drama runs a cracker to make Lockinge frame

The Ger Lyons-trained four-year-old travelled strongly into contention on his first start since taking second to Gleneagles in the Irish 2,000 Guineas almost a year ago, but couldn't quite resist the late charge of Belardo, who came home best to claim Group One glory from Euro Charline.

Winner of the Dewhurst Stakes as a juvenile, Roger Varian's Belardo endured a largely disappointing three-year-old campaign in 2015, but did sign off with an excellent effort to fill the runner-up spot in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

The Lope De Vega colt impressed on his Doncaster return, but could only finish fourth behind Toormore at Sandown next time and was available at 8-1 on his return to the highest level.

With Godolphin pacemaker Barchan weakening a long way from home, last year's runner-up Toormore found himself in front plenty soon enough and was soon claimed by the strong-travelling Euro Charline under Ryan Moore.

Marco Botti's mare looked likely to collect entering the final furlong, but having ridden an ultra-patient race, Andrea Atzeni delivered Belardo with a powerful late run on the far side of the track and he got up by a length.

Lyons said: "It was the same sort of feeling we had after the (Irish) Guineas - you'd take it in the morning but now you're a bit disappointed.

"It was a hell of a run for his first time back after nearly a year off and you've seen the size of him.

"He was caught a bit flat-footed when they quickened, but the positive to take out of it is Colin (Keane) reckons we'll get a mile and a quarter easy. That was a question that's been answered.

"There was a lack of races at home for him. I would have loved to have given him a run but the ground has been heavy for the races I could have run him in.

"We'll discuss it with the owners, but if the ground is kind you'd go to Royal Ascot and then give him a mid-season break with a view to going for a Champion Stakes either side of the (Irish) sea."

Atzeni said of the winner: "The last time I sat on him was the Dewhurst - he's a good horse on his day and it's a pleasure to be back on him. I remember when I first sat on him as a two-year-old I told Roger he was the fastest I'd sat on

"They went quick, he half-fell out of the stalls, but that's him and he travelled brilliantly throughout the race and picked up when he got daylight.

"It's just on the easy side of good and probably at his very best he just needs a bit of cut."

Hugo Palmer could count on Ninety in Irish Oaks

Hugo Palmer could have found himself another Darley Irish Oaks contender after We Are Ninety toughed out victory in the Haras De Bouquetot Fillies' Trial Stakes at Newbury.

Making her turf debut having won twice from three starts on the all-weather, Palmer's filly was 12-1 stepping up to Listed class.

Jim Crowley navigated his mount to the lead inside the final furlong, passing 11-4 favourite Beautiful Morning. The market leader came back for another crack as the post loomed, but We Are Ninety saw her off by a neck.

Palmer, who won the Irish Oaks last year with Covert Love, said: "She's a really tough filly. To have three runs in 22 days is not easy for any horse, particularly when it's the second, third and fourth run of their life.

"I've always liked her and I felt her work with Hawksmoor at home put her right on the premises of the favourite and that's what gave us the heart to have a go today. She and Hawksmoor have been working together all spring."

Looking to the future, he said: "Jim Crowley said she will stay further and we'll look to the Ribblesdale Stakes now as there's a nice gap.

"She's a very raw filly and is almost a mirror image of Covert Love with her white face and her white socks.

"The ground was a bit soft for her today and I could see her changing her legs round the top bend. I would have thought if she's going to be supplemented for an Oaks, it could be the Irish Oaks as she was born and bred there."

Charles O'Brien aiming high with Santa Monica

Charles O'Brien is hoping Santa Monica can secure some black type later in the season following her victory in the Crowne Plaza Hotel Race And Stay Package Median Auction Fillies Maiden at Dundalk on Friday evening.

The three-year-old counts Sakhee's Secret among her relatives and was good enough to be placed fourth in last season's Silver Flash Stakes.

However, she failed to build on that in two further outings last term and her handler was thrilled to see her bounce back to winning form when stepped up to 10 and a half furlongs at Dundalk.

O'Brien said: "I was a bit concerned as she was in season on Thursday but just came out of it in time.

"She was probably entitled to win that on her form. She lost her way a bit at the end (of the season)."

"The objective is black type. She bounces off firm ground."

John Gosden's Chesham option for Frankel colt Cunco

Cunco looks likely to be targeted at the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot following his headline-making success at Newbury on Friday.

The John Gosden-trained two-year-old was the first runner for Frankel in his stallion career, and did the mighty horse proud as he showed a smart change of gear to win in some style.

Gosden said: “ He's a grand colt with plenty about him and if we're going to go to Ascot, the Chesham would be the race that we'd go to."

Not only was the Chilean-owned Cunco the first offspring of Frankel to make it to the track, he was also his first-born foal, on January 11, 2014, meaning he shared a birthday with Frankel's late trainer, Sir Henry Cecil.