Talking Horses: Havlin lands Group One breakthrough with Commissioning

Talking Horses: Havlin lands Group One breakthrough with Commissioning

  • John Gosden’s No 2 jockey wins Fillies’ Mile for overdue success
  • Havlin: ‘I’m elated and don’t think it will sink in until I get home’
Rab Havlin celebrates his breakthrough Group One victory with Commissioning

After 31 years in the saddle, more than two decades as John Gosden’s ever-loyal No 2 jockey and around 40 attempts, Rab Havlin finally added a Group One winner to his record here on Friday, and the rider’s determination not to allow another chance to slip through his grasp was palpable as Commissioning, odds-on for the Fillies’ Mile, approached the final furlong with a length still to make up on the front-running Novakai.

For a moment, as she became a little unbalanced on the run into the Dip, it seemed that Commissioning would struggle to reel in Novakai, and she briefly traded at 2-1 in running on the Betfair exchange. Once she found her stride, however, she rapidly closed down Novakai, hit the front around 100 yards from the line and stayed on well for a one-length success.

It was not an entirely convincing success but Commissioning remains unbeaten after three starts having only made her racecourse debut in late July, and most bookmakers took the chance to trim her price for next spring’s 1,000 Guineas to around 4-1 second-favourite behind the impressive Moyglare Stud Stakes winner, Tahiyra.

Havlin took over on Commissioning in place of the suspended Frankie Dettori, Gosden’s No 1 rider, who was in the winner’s enclosure to lead the congratulations after Havlin’s breakthrough win at the highest level.

“She gave me a worrying moment going into the Dip when she got a bit unbalanced but God, once she hit the rising ground …” Havlin said. “She was taking off at the line.

“I’m feeling elated and I don’t think it will sink in until I get home. I knew she had a hot chance but they have still got to come here and do it. In the last half a furlong she’s done nothing but quicken so she has all the attributes to be proper good next year.

Quick Guide

Greg Wood’s Saturday tips

Show

Hexham
1.18 Ardera 1.54 Pileup 2.29 Jelski 3.04 Avoid De Master 3.34 Paddy The Horse 4.08 Punxsatawney 4.43 Perculator

York
1.30 Grey’s Monument 2.05 Alpha Capture 2.40 Protagonist 3.15 Dusky Lord 3.50 Garden Route 4.25 Praiano 5.00 Faylaq

Chepstow 
1.42 Age Of Sail 2.17 Kitty’s Light 2.52 McFabulous 3.27 Paint The Dream 4.02 Knappers Hill 4.37 Winterwatch 5.12 Max’s Champ  

Newmarket 
1.50 Flying Honours 2.25 Epictetus 3.00 Naval Power 3.40 Vino Victrix (nap) 4.15 In These Shoes 4.50 Gale Force Maya 5.20 Regal Reality  

Chelmsford City
4.53 Rosette 5.25 Manettino 6.00 Fiorina 6.30 Ciotog 7.00 Astro Jakk 7.30 Flavius Titus 8.00 Griggy 8.30 Janus 

“I had a plan in my head and changed that about three times before I went out there, and I thought, I will see what happens when I come out the stalls, as I didn’t want to be a prisoner to any plan. You feel a little bit of pressure but once the stalls open, everything goes out of your head.”

Thady Gosden, who trains Commissioning jointly with his father, paid tribute to Havlin’s efforts at the yard down the years.

“Everyone loves him and you couldn’t get a better man,” he said. “Everyone is thrilled for him as he has finally won a Group One, and no one deserves it more. Rab got her very well balanced and luckily she stayed on up the hill and her class came through.”

William Buick, who will be crowned champion jockey for the first time at Ascot next weekend, had to settle for second place on Novakai but had earlier moved on to 150 winners during the campaign with a front-running success on Pogo in the Group Two Challenge Stakes.

Charles Hills’s ultra-consistent six-year-old is now likely to be aimed at the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland in Kentucky next month, a track that could suit his running style ideally.

“He has been to most battles this year,” Hills said. “He has very rarely come up short and just loves racing and loves the game.

“He is a really tough boy and he has got a great cruising speed. He travels and he wants it and he is aggressive. If every horse was like him, it would be very easy.”

Saturday preview

Sir Michael Stoute will hope to bridge a 36-year gap when Nostrum, one of three unbeaten colts in a seven-strong field, goes to post for Saturday’s Group One Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.

Stoute has enjoyed a long and hugely successful career on the turf but has won Britain’s most prestigious juvenile event just once, with Ajdal in 1986, and his colt Expert Eye, who arrived with a similar profile to Nostrum in 2017, finished last of nine at 4-7.

Nostrum should also head the market, at likely odds of around 6-4, but that feels too short for a colt who took a four-runner Group Three last time out and is now stepping up to contest a strong Group One with several hugely promising two-year-olds in opposition.

Quick Guide

Greg Wood’s Saturday tips

Show

Hexham
1.18 Ardera 1.54 Pileup 2.29 Jelski 3.04 Avoid De Master 3.34 Paddy The Horse 4.08 Punxsatawney 4.43 Perculator

York
1.30 Grey’s Monument 2.05 Alpha Capture 2.40 Protagonist 3.15 Dusky Lord 3.50 Garden Route 4.25 Praiano 5.00 Faylaq

Chepstow 
1.42 Age Of Sail 2.17 Kitty’s Light 2.52 McFabulous 3.27 Paint The Dream 4.02 Knappers Hill 4.37 Winterwatch 5.12 Max’s Champ  

Newmarket 
1.50 Flying Honours 2.25 Epictetus 3.00 Naval Power 3.40 Vino Victrix (nap) 4.15 In These Shoes 4.50 Gale Force Maya 5.20 Regal Reality  

Chelmsford City
4.53 Rosette 5.25 Manettino 6.00 Fiorina 6.30 Ciotog 7.00 Astro Jakk 7.30 Flavius Titus 8.00 Griggy 8.30 Janus 

Chaldean, Aesop’s Fables and Isaac Shelby all fully deserve their place in the field but Naval Power (3.00), unbeaten after four starts, has arguably the best piece of form in the field – a six-and-a-half length win at Ascot in an excellent time. He looks at least a point too long at around 7-2 to give Charlie Appleby his third success in this race in the last four years.

Newmarket 1.50 A sedate gallop did not suit Flying Honours in the Royal Lodge Stakes last time but there should be more pace on here and the step up to 10 furlongs should suit him too.

York 2.05 Form in sales races is sometimes best treated with caution but the event at Doncaster’s Leger meeting was run in a decent time and Alpha Capture, who lost out by a short-head to an opponent that won at Listed level next time up, should go one place better here.

Newmarket 2.25 Epictetus was weak in the betting before his debut at the July meeting but won with something to spare under a hands-and-heels ride and should have much more to offer.

York 2.40 Protagonist ran better than the bare form might suggest in the Cambridgeshire last time, finishing second in a small group from the low-numbered stalls, and a return to the form of his win at Sandown in August would give him every chance at around 11-4.

York 3.15 The reapplication of cheek pieces drew a big chunk of improvement from Dusky Lord in the Ayr Silver Cup last time and his winning time confirmed the visual impression of his three-length success. At around 8-1, he is an excellent bet to follow up.

Newmarket 3.40 A smaller field than usual for the Cesarewitch but still no end of possibilities. Vino Victrix, with Benoit de la Sayette taking off a useful 3lb, appeals as the pick of the prices at around 16-1 to follow up his win at Goodwood in August.