Investec Handicap quotes
Sky Defender saw off all comers to land the 10-furlong Investec Handicap. The Mark Johnston-trained four-year-old took up the running quarter of a mile from home and was not for passing, scoring by three-quarters of length.
Mark Johnston said: “I thought his starting price was non-sensical. I think he was even 33/1 when I was looking at my phone in the paddock.
“He had a long time off racing and I think he has only had three defeats since his last win and one of those seconds was against West End Charmer [also trained by Johnston]. We had a lot of faith in him because we knew he was a good horse.
“He is a high-class handicapper obviously, but I don’t tend to have too many long-term plans, but just take it as he comes and hopefully we will target another one.
“It was obviously very important to get today on. Everybody knows I felt we stopped too soon and started too late.
“It is just great to have it back. We have learnt an awful lot. It is terrible for the racecourses and the owners who can’t be there with a lack of atmosphere on course, but it’s teaching us what a good television product racing is.
“It is as good as ever and a big lesson that people watch racing because of the horses.”
Winning jockey Joe Fanning said: “We always liked this horse and he hasn’t run a bad race this year. Mark [Johnston] said in the paddock beforehand that he couldn’t believe how big a price Sky Defender was, so yeah, we fancied him.
“In his race before last [at Newmarket on June 7] Mark’s other horse, West End Charmer, won, and I thought that was a very good run [Sky Defender finished second]. It was just the draw I was worried about today, getting into it from there, but he jumped well and travelled well all the way, and was travelling well down the hill.
“Today is a bit different, but to be honest, we just go from the paddock to the track to the weighing room, so all that is missing is the crowd, really. The atmosphere is pretty similar in the weighing room to day to what it would be normally.”
Investec Handicap 1m 2f
1 Sky Defender Mark Johnston 4-9-05 Joe Fanning 22/1
2 Breath Caught Ralph Beckett 5-8-07 Harry Bentley 11/1
3 Tinandali David O’Meara 4-9-09 Jim Crowley 10/1
3/1 Fav Ironclad (10th)
Non-Runners: Desert Icon (self certificate, not eaten up), Sherpa Trail (unsuitable ground), Wargrave (withdrawn at start)
Winner owned by Hamad Rashed Bin Ghedayer
Distances: ¾, 1¾
Tote Win: £24.20 Places: £6.80 £4.30 £3.20 Exacta: £287.50