Martyn Meade can dream once more of a first Classic success, having got Technician back on track with a surprise victory in the Geoffrey Freer. The 71-year-old trainer has tackled the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby with high hopes in recent seasons, only to see Advertise and Eminent come up short, but next month’s St Leger may provide him with a happier outcome.
Technician was himself tried in a couple of Derby trials in the spring and fared respectably when runner-up to Bangkok at Sandown, but Saturday’s performance was a new career best as he outbattled the favourite, Morando, after a protracted duel up the soggy home straight. He took a long time to get on top but looked the likely winner from over a furlong out and appears well suited by a test of stamina.
“He’s been a funny horse,” said Meade’s son, Freddie, on duty as assistant trainer while his father was buying yearlings in Deauville. “You have a short amount of time to work these horses out and he’s only had six runs. A galloping track and a bit of juice in the ground, and he just keeps giving and giving.
“You need to ask him to give, he doesn’t give it to you without asking. He’s good like that, which means hopefully he’s got a bit of longevity.”
Meade Jr pointed out the horse had managed to win over 10 furlongs just a couple of months ago. That now seems a formidable test of speed, by Technician’s standards, and it is impressive that he was able to cope.
The St Leger in four weeks’ time was described as “the logical next step” and “a race that’s been on our radar for some time”, and bookmakers duly hastened to cut Technician’s odds. But he was still available at 20-1 by Saturday evening, which seems generous in the context of a race for which the betting is due a shake-up. After all, six of the top eight in betting lists are from Aidan O’Brien’s stable and there must be every chance that half of those will drop out. The current favourite, Japan, seems especially at risk of missing the Leger, since the trainer named other targets last week for the colt, who is being aimed at the Juddmonte International and the Irish Champion.
In any case, Technician is hopefully going to be a “Cup” horse for next year, turning up in all the best marathon races. If Stradivarius has retired by then, he will be a contender. “He’s a nice horse to have,” said Meade Jr.
This proved the right day to give another chance to a frustrating animal, as Glorious Journey, who would also fit that description, won the Hungerford Stakes, having gone 361 days since his most recent success. A son of Fallen For You, who won the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, he won his first two starts in 2017 and was supposed to be a Dewhurst candidate but things have evidently gone sideways since then.
“We thought quite a bit of him as a two-year-old,” said James Doyle, the winning jockey. “He’s got a fantastic pedigree, but we just lost him a little bit. I think dropping back in trip has definitely been the making of him.
“I hit the front too soon. I tried to hold on to him as long as he could and I was a little bit nervous whether he’d have the tenacity, late on, to hold off Librisa Breeze but that was a sure sign of him growing up.”
Connections of Librisa Breeze were also encouraged, considering this was his first start since November and he started at 16-1. The popular grey, a Group One winner in 2017, may have another big day in him at the age of seven. The Prix de la Forêt was mentioned as a possible target and he might clash again with Glorious Journey in that race on Arc weekend.
While John Gosden was saddling Terebellum to win the Prix de la Nonette at Deauville, there was a good report here of his star mare Enable, who will run in the Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday. Rab Havlin said he had been impressed when riding her in work on Wednesday and added that she went well again under Frankie Dettori on Saturday.
“She normally doesn’t do a lot on the Al Bahathri gallop,” Havlin said, “but she just pulled out and went whoosh. Oh, she’s ready.”