Exciting Xtension has his day in the sun
Even sitting at home in his box yesterday, the Derby winner Ambitious Dragon was an awesome presence as John Moore and Darren Beadman claimed the BMW Champions Mile with Xtension and pencilled in plans for Royal Ascot and quite possibly a Cox Plate.
It was Xtension's day after three second placings from his five runs here, taking advantage of a fool-proof ride from Beadman and claiming Lucky Nine, Musir and Beauty Flash in the final 100m to score in a blanket finish.
'He came here and acclimatised very quickly. He has been a dream to train and very sound, but he has just been unfortunate to find a better one on the day in his other runs,' Moore told the media after Xtension was a well-backed second favourite.
'Back to 1,600m after the Derby was some kind of gamble but he freshened up well and he's done the job. Now we can look to the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, which he has already been entered for, and I would love to take him to the Cox Plate later in the year. I have yet to really discuss that with the owner but, if he'd let me take the horse, I think he would be an ideal type for it.'
Beadman said Xtension shuffled out of the stalls, as is usual, but the rest of the race broke perfectly for him.
'Everywhere I went in the race it worked out perfectly. When I asked him to go, he could have just run with the pack, but he was up for it when the battle came today and knowing he's had the 2,000m of the Derby under the belt I knew he would be tough,' Beadman said. 'It isn't easy for the English horses to come here and acclimatise - especially him being a colt - and handle tracks that are firmer than they would like them. Even though he hasn't won before today, he's done a good job and beat the third by a big margin in the Derby. This win will give him some confidence. And you have to remember he was beaten by a pretty good horse in the Derby.'
It was no secret Moore had taken the Champions Mile path to avoid Ambitious Dragon in next Sunday's QE II Cup after the Derby winner had plenty to spare in recent runs beating both Lucky Nine and Xtension, and yesterday's result augurs well for Sunday.
While Xtension's race could not have panned out better, the same wasn't true for Lucky Nine (Brett Prebble) and trainer Caspar Fownes felt a pang of disappointment.
'I think not being able to get cover for the first half of the race was the difference between winning and losing today but he's run fantastic,' he said. 'I need to discuss it with the owner but I would be happy enough to finish the season with him now. He's done a great job and there's not a lot left for him. When he comes back next season he'll be a very serious horse.'
Prebble was adamant an awkward run early cost Lucky Nine the race, too, as he didn't drop his head and relax without cover but was positive about the four-year-old's future.
'From what he's done this season, I feel he'll come back better than a horse like Beauty Flash after a break,' he said. 'Darren had everything go right, which is how you win these big races - we didn't and he got beaten a neck. There's no reason Lucky Nine won't be the champion miler next season.'
As for Beauty Flash himself, trainer Tony Cruz is eyeing another tilt at the Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo in June after a close fourth when he conceded the chestnut was not at his very best.
'He scoped with mucus after he worked the other day. He was clean this morning or he wouldn't have run and he's still run very well and wasn't beaten far, but I do feel that he'll be a better horse in Tokyo if he's invited,' he said.