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Frustration for Mark Johnston as Walk In Marrakesh is just denied in Natalma

Mark Johnston, who saddled the second and third in Saturday's William Hill St Leger, was just denied Grade 1 success at Woodbine on Sunday after Walk In Marrakesh lost out by a nose to Abscond in the Natalma Stakes.

Sir Ron Priestley and Nayef Road did Johnston proud at Doncaster but the weekend could have more profitable as Matterhorn was also an unlucky loser when beaten a neck in the Group 2 Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday. 

Having led the field under Jamie Spencer, Listed Sandown winner Walk In Marrakesh was challenged by Abscond and Fair Maiden a furlong and a half from home.

The three got involved in a protracted battle, with the Eddie Kenneally-trained Abscond winning on the nod from Walk In Marrakesh, with Fair Maiden a further neck back in third.  

Abscond's rider Irad Ortiz jnr told bloodhorse.com: "She's a fighter. She fought with the outside horse and came back on the inside. She fought back and put her head in front. Everything worked out good for us."

The Natalma is part of the Breeders' Cup 'win and you're in' challenge series, awarding Abscond an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in November.

Ortiz jnr recorded a top-level double on the card after winning the Summer Stakes on the Christophe Clement-trained Decorated Invader, a race in which the Joseph O'Brien-trained Vitalogy finished third for Spencer.  

Decorated Invader secured his place in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, a race Clement confirmed would be the target.

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