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Return to seven furlongs expected to suit Yafta in Hungerford Stakes

Newbury Racecourse stages Ladies Day with Rudimental this Saturday, August 18, when the highlight is the £150,000 G2 Ladyswood Stud Hungerford Stakes (3.35pm) over seven furlongs. Ladyswood Stud, a 90-acre establishment situated on the Gloucestershire Wiltshire border near Malmesbury, owned by Alex Frost, is sponsoring the Hungerford Stakes for the first time in 2018.

Sir Dancealot (David Elsworth) is the form horse among the 18 confirmations. He finished fourth in the G1 July Cup at Newmarket on July 14 before getting up on the nod to win the G2 Lennox Stakes over seven furlongs at Goodwood on July 31.

Librisa Breeze, photo Liesl King

Last year's runner-up Librisa Breeze could turn out quickly after staying-on to fourth in the G1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville, France, on August 5. He gained the biggest victory of his career in the G1 QIPCO British Champions Sprint at Ascot in October.

The Richard Hannon-trained Yafta has progressed with every run this year and boasts winning course form at Newbury, having captured the six-furlong G3 bet365 Hackwood Stakes by a head on July 21.

The three-year-old son of Dark Angel has finished second on both of his starts over seven furlongs, which included a head defeat in a handicap company at Newmarket in June.

However, Angus Gold racing manager to owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, believes there is more to come from Yafta over seven furlongs.

Gold said today: "Yafta is in very good form at home. Richard Hannon is very happy with him and everything has gone well since Newbury last time out.

"He is a very progressive horse, who has a lovely attitude to racing. We have decided to go for the Hungerford as the race fits nicely into the calendar, but we also think there is more to come from him over seven furlongs.

"Yafta was very tough in the Hackwood Stakes. I was slightly surprised he had the speed to win over six furlongs and the step back up to seven furlongs will suit him ideally on Saturday.

"We are looking forward to the race and hopefully he runs well."

Aidan O'Brien, reigning champion trainer in Britain and Ireland, has a trio of three-year-old colts among the acceptors, including G1 St James's Palace Stakes runner-up Gustav Klimt and G1 July Cup third Fleet Review.

The 2014 winner Breton Rock (David Simcock), who finished third behind Sir Dancealot at Goodwood, and progressive three-year-old filly Pretty Baby (William Haggas), a G3 winner over seven furlongs at Goodwood on August 3, also remain engaged.

Alex Frost, owner of Ladyswood Stud, said: "Ladyswood Stud is delighted to be sponsoring this year's G2 Hungerford Stakes, which looks set to be another competitive renewal.

"Newbury is our local racecourse and as a family we have a long association with the race. My grandfather Tom was a keen racehorse owner and in 1965 he was lucky enough to win the Hungerford Stakes with a grey horse called Roan Rocket. We can only hope that we may be lucky enough to breed a future Hungerford Stakes winner ourselves.

"I am really pleased that we have also been able to support both Racing to School and the charity, WellChild on Saturday afternoon, both of which do valuable work with young people and are very important to me."

Julian Thick, Chief Executive of Newbury Racecourse added: "We are very grateful to Ladyswood Stud for its sponsorship of the Hungerford Stakes and enabling us to support two charities for young people as part of racing on Saturday for our Ladies' Day.

"Always a popular day with our racegoers, the feature race is always competitive and this year's renewal looks very interesting. I would also like to thank our other sponsors, Irish Thoroughbred Marketing and Sportsguide for their support on the day."

John Blake, Chief Executive of Racing to School said: "The education charity Racing to School is very grateful to have been offered a title sponsorship by Alex Frost and his Ladyswood Stud on the prestigious Hungerford Stakes card.  

"We work closely with Newbury year-round and a record total of 14,000 young people will participate in our activity programmes across 350 days nationwide this year, the majority of which will be meeting the sport for the first time."

Elsewhere on the card, the £60,000 G3 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2.25pm) over mile and a five furlongs is often used as stepping-stone to big end of season targets such as the St Leger and Melbourne Cup.

Among the 11 entries for this year's renewal is Godolphin's exciting four-year-old Hamada. Trained by Charlie Appleby, Hamadamade in three from three so far this year when taking a valuable 14-furlong handicap by seven lengths at Newmarket on July 13.

Raymond Tusk (Richard Hannon) looks the pick of the two three-year-old contenders judged on his decisive two and a half-length victory in the Listed Glasgow Stakes over 11 furlongs at Hamilton on July 20.

Two-year-olds put their reputations on the line in the £25,550 Listed Denford Stakes (1.50pm, 16 entries) over seven furlongs. Notable names on the roll of honour include subsequent Classic winners Rodrigo De Triano, Lammtarra, Haafhd and Just The Judge.

Newbury's eight race programme starts with a race for purebred Arabians at 1.20pm and ends at 5.15pm.

The going at Newbury is Good to Firm (Good in places), with showers forecast on Monday.

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