Santosha shines in Princess Margaret heat

Filly takes Ascot honours for Loughnane.

Santosha provided trainer David Loughnane and jockey Thomas Greatrex with the first Group race win of their respective careers in the Princess Margaret Betfred Stakes at Ascot.

For good measure, Loughnane also saddled third-placed Caroline Dale, with Kevin Ryan’s Hala Hala Hala splitting the stable companions.

Santosha had the distinction of being sent off at 50-1 for the first two runs of her career – a surprise win at Lingfield and when she stormed home to be third in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket.

The form was the best on offer as the winner, Dandalla, had triumphed at Royal Ascot and the second, Fev Rover, claimed a Listed race next time out.

It was Caroline Dale who showed blistering pace out of the stalls, as she has in all her races to date, but this time she had an extra furlong to tackle and she faded a little in the finish.

Santosha travelled supremely well, looking as though she would win comfortably when she took up the running, but the filly began to drift to he left, giving Hala Hala Hala a chance.

Greatrex soon straightened up his mount, though, and the 5-1 chance won by three-quarters of a length for Loughnane.

“I’m lost for words really. I’d be an emotional person at the best of times. We love what we do and to get our reward is phenomenal,” said Loughnane.

“I think from two out I was screaming ‘come on girls’ more so than one of them. I sat on both of them on Wednesday or Thursday morning and I told both owners I wouldn’t be able to split them.

“I said to Hollie (Doyle on Caroline Dale) and Tom going out ‘you come to the half-furlong marker together and may the best horse win’.

“It was pretty close to that. Caroline Dale has run a blinder. She has got headed and stayed on all the way to the line. She is a very tough filly and she has got so much speed. Hindsight is a great thing and maybe we should have gone for the Molecomb on Wednesday, but this felt like the right race. She will have her day.

“The ground was probably quick enough for Santosha and, as Tom said, he probably hit the front too soon, but you have to commit in these races. He has committed and he has gone there and she has done it well.

“Tom sat on her at home before she ran and he said she would win first time out and he was spot on. She should never have been the price she was second time out, but my surname may have had something to do with that – but we are well and truly working towards making changes there.

“I think she will be a nicer filly next year, stepping her up to seven furlongs and a mile. She travels so sweetly.

“Today was the plan. We like to take each race at a time. The Lowther would have to be one of the next ones on the top of her list. There are quite a few options in France for her.

“To be fair, the owners said after she ran in the Duchess of Cambridge that the Cheveley Park would be on the map. That will be her long-term goal this year.

“This is the mecca and everyone wants to train winners here. We will enjoy a winner here as much as we will anywhere. To get a winner on the board is brilliant, but it is the icing on the cake that it is here. It’s a dream come true.”

Greatrex said: “This is another step in the right direction. Her form has worked out well. Coming here we thought we had a good chance.

“We had Dave’s other horse to set a good gallop and she has done. We’ve got a lovely run into the race and she has really stuck her head down. She got a bit lonely in front in the end, but she was brilliant.

“She is still learning. I was still running in snatches in the race. Once I got hold of her, she kicked down a gear and took off. She is progressive and is going to keep improving and it is great to get my first Group winner.”

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