Bow Creek lined up to take on Europe’s elite

Bow Creek surges clear to win. Picture: Malcolm Wells (142370-8922)
Bow Creek surges clear to win. Picture: Malcolm Wells (142370-8922)
Minellatillmorning won the Happy Birthday Sarah Cotty Handicap Hurdle. Picture: Fontwell Park

Balding celebrates Glory at Fontwell

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Mark Johnston admitted the time has come to unleash Bow Creek on Europe’s elite milers.

The Yorkshire trainer sent out his three-year-old Shamardal colt to triumph in the Doom Bar Celebration Mile at Goodwood on Saturday.

Picking up where he left off at the Glorious festival, the Middleham Moor handler also scored with Almargo in the 32Red Stakes as he capped another triumphant visit to the South Downs.

However, it was Bow Creek’s success in the Group 2 feature race on the second day of the three-day bank holiday meeting that was the highlight.

The 9/2-shot very nearly threw it all away, though.

Bow Creek drifted dramatically left at the death and, while jockey Joe Fanning averted a potential disaster, his winning margin was reduced to a length and a half.

Fanning had earlier caught his rivals half asleep with two furlongs remaining as he surged clear.

And while Bow Creek did not make it easy for him in the closing stages, his jockey had matters in hand.

The Irish-bred colt was third to Wannabe Yours in the Group 3 Thoroughbred Stakes at Glorious Goodwood earlier this month.

But Johnston paid tribute to the work of his jockey and revealed the Celebration Mile triumph may well have booked Bow Creek a ticket to Champions Day at Ascot in October.

He said: ‘It was a great ride and Joe is on the top of his game.

‘But he’s a good horse and I thought we came here with a decent chance.

‘Ryan Moore said he veered left in the Britannia at Ascot.

‘We worked our horses on the track at Ascot so perhaps he knew where the gate was.

‘I don’t know what happened this time but he’d have obviously won very well if he hadn’t done it.

‘He’s had big entries before – races like the Jacques Le Marois (at Deauville).

‘So we’ve thought about it.

‘He’s in the QEII and now he’s won a Group 2, I suppose we’ll have to go for it.’

The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes is a Group 1 mile battle on Champions Day.

If Bow Creek takes his chance, he is likely to face talents such as Sussex Stakes winners Kingman (2014) and Toronado (2013), the 2012 Vintage Stakes champion Olympic Glory and Irish superstar Australia.

Rated 108 before his success on Saturday, Johnston’s charge is also entered in the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket next month.

However, whether he will take his chance in that heritage handicap – where he is currently priced 16/1 – will depend on what the handicapper does to his mark this week.

Almargo’s 16/1 win for Johnston in the 32Red Stakes marked a return to form for jockey Royston Ffrench.

The trainer said: ‘Royston was in a bit of a rut.

‘He had a lot of rides without winning for us but he’s back on song like he was a few years ago.’