Walker targeting Betfair Spring Cup for Starman

Trainer hoping for drier weather ahead of Haydock showpiece on September 4th

 Starman, ridden by Oisin Murphy, was beaten just under two lengths into third by the prolific Marianafoot in Sunday’s Prix Maurice de Gheest.  Photograph:  Alan Crowhurst/PA

Starman, ridden by Oisin Murphy, was beaten just under two lengths into third by the prolific Marianafoot in Sunday’s Prix Maurice de Gheest. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/PA

 

Ed Walker is targeting Betfair Sprint Cup success for Starman after his gallant effort in defeat in Sunday’s Prix Maurice de Gheest.

The July Cup hero was well fancied to double his Group One tally at Deauville, but was beaten just under two lengths into third by the prolific Marianafoot.

Starman disappointed in a soft ground Qipco British Champions Sprint at Ascot last season, while he was taken out of the Diamond Jubilee at the Royal meeting on account of testing conditions.

Walker believes a combination of the easy surface and an extended trip of six and a half furlongs proved his stable star’s undoing in France, but he has no regrets about allowing him to take his chance.

He said: “I think we were right to run. The ground wasn’t as bad as it was at Ascot either on Champions Day or at Royal Ascot, when we took him out.

“We nearly got away with it. At the six-furlong pole he was nearly the winner. He came there to win his race and didn’t get home.

“I’m very proud of him. He ran a massive race and was very brave. He’s genuine and talented and the ground just blunted his speed and put more of an emphasis on stamina. He was beaten by a couple of horses that have got very good form over further.

“I think he lost nothing in defeat and credit to David Ward [owner] for being brave enough to give it a shot.”

Walker is now praying for drying weather ahead of the Haydock showpiece on September 4th.

“We live to fight another day and when we get him back on proper fast ground we’ll see his true colours again,” the trainer added. “We’ve had so much rain we’re surely due a dry spell. We’ll aim for Haydock and see how we go.”

Wesley Ward will consider future plans for Campanelle after she returns to America following a disappointing afternoon in France.

The daughter of Kodiac completed a Royal Ascot-Deauville double last summer, following up victory in the Queen Mary Stakes with a Group One win against the boys in the Prix Morny.

Rearing up

Having won the Commonwealth Cup in the stewards’ room at Ascot this year, Campanelle returned to Deauville for the Prix Maurice de Gheest, but her race was over almost before it began – rearing up when the gates opened and hitting jockey Frankie Dettori in the face.

Campanelle soon made up the ground she had lost, but weakened to finish last of the 12 runners.

Ward said: “When you’re beaten fair and square it’s kind of easy to take, but it’s a little tough when things worked out like they did.

“Frankie obviously bumped his head and said it left him half-dazed for the first part of the race. He did well to stay on and at least he is okay and the filly seems fine.”

The Washington-born trainer admits his confidence was high pre-race, with Campanelle’s stablemate Twilight Gleaming – runner-up in the Queen Mary in June – claiming Listed honours at Deauville the previous afternoon.

But Dettori felt his mount became upset before Sunday’s feature, with French rules meaning she was not accompanied to the start by a pony as she would have been in America and was at Ascot.

“The other filly that travelled over with her won the previous day and they both had around the same timeline (having not run since Royal Ascot), so we were kind of having big hopes,” Ward added.

“The American horses are used to going to the start with a pony and it certainly helps them settle. It’s quite unfortunate in France that they don’t allow ponies.

“She was able to win the Morny last year [without a pony], but she was just two and now it’s a little more difficult. She came out of it well, so we’ll get with the owners and make a new plan and see what we’re going to do.”

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