Trillium (7/1) showed a sparkling turn of foot to provide trainer Richard Hannon with back-to-back wins in the G3 Markel Molecomb Stakes.
The daughter of No Nay Never, the only filly in the eight-strong line-up, was ridden with maximum confidence by Pat Dobbs and displayed sharp acceleration once angled to the stands’ rail.
Trillium, following in the footsteps of 2021 winner Armor, picked off even-money favourite Rocket Rodney in the final furlong to score by a cosy length and a quarter, with a further half-length back to Walbank (4/1).
Hannon said: “Trillium has always been a lovely filly and I was amazed she did not win here first time. She probably did not know enough and was a bit keen.
“She won her maiden very nicely at Newbury. We have come back from six furlongs to five and she is starting to look like a very nice two-year-old. She came in late and is a credit to Rockcliffe Stud [owner-breeder]. We have been extremely lucky with these colours, Sky Lantern and Snow Lantern, and it is lovely.
“We will look at the Prix Morny and Ed Sackville mentioned the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. I did not put her in the Lowther as she was not showing this much speed then. She does not have to sprint, and six furlongs won’t be a problem.
“She looks like a very tall, strong two-year-old, kind of in the Happy Romance mould, although she is not as ‘long’ as Happy Romance. I would love to think she is a filly for next year, but she is a Group winner now and that would be a bonus.
“I did want to run her in the Alice Keppel, and that is worth nearly as much money… but if we had won that and then thought we might have won the Molecomb with a homebred, we would have slipped up there slightly!”
Dobbs said: “Trillium has loads of speed. Richard just said that she can be a little fiery, but she has plenty of speed.
“I followed Rocket Rodney and I knew from the two-furlong pole that I would pick him up. I got there a little quicker than I thought I would. She has a really good turn of foot and it’s about keeping a lid on her. She is getting better with every run.
“She won over six furlongs at Newbury and she wasn’t stopping. When you’re sitting on her, she has more in behind than in front, so she has a bit of growing to do. She will definitely get six, although I am not sure about any further than that.”
Ed Sackville, racing manager for winning owner-breeder Rockcliffe Stud, said: “It is absolutely fantastic. This is a homebred filly out of a mare called Marsh Hawk, who was fourth in the Fillies’ Mile for us.
“We were offered a lot of money for Marsh Hawk and luckily turned it down. It has paid off as Trillium has just won the Molecomb in impressive style – we are delighted.
“This was Richard Hannon’s decision. He was keen to drop her down to five furlongs as he feels that she just shows so much speed. We had her in the Alice Keppel, but as we’re owner-breeders, the Black Type is more important, so it’s great.
“I’ll talk to Richard about future plans, but a race that interests me is the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint – a Group One race, a million-dollar race – that would be exciting. We’ve got Black Type and can go anywhere now.”
Rocket Rodney’s trainer George Scott said: “We were beaten fair and square by a better horse on the day. Trillium was the fly in the ointment really for me going into the race – a well-bred filly from a good operation, who was impressive last time out. She was always the one I was worried about. We’ve beaten Eddie’s Boy by the same distance we’ve beaten him in the last two starts, so we’ve probably just run to our form and she has improved past us.
“We are working back from the Breeders’ Cup. We will probably give him a couple of easy weeks and then work towards the Flying Childers. Then he will run once more depending on the ground, and we want to end up at Keeneland for the two-year-old five-furlong race on the Friday. It’s a newish race. It will be perfect for him.”
Rossa Ryan said of Walbank: “It was good. I had to do the donkey work on my own side, but I was a step slower away so that didn’t help. He has run well and he’s a real, true five-furlong horse, he just gets it. He should win his black-type race – I would be disappointed if he doesn’t.”
3.00pm Markel Molecomb Stakes (Group 3)
1 Trillium (Rockcliffe Stud) Richard Hannon 2-9-00 Pat Dobbs 7/1
2 Rocket Rodney (Victorious Racing) George Scott 2-9-03 Daniel Muscutt EvsF
3 Walbank (Amo Racing and Omnihorse Racing) David Loughnane 2-9-03
Richard Hannon – 22nd Qatar Goodwood Festival winner Pat Dobbs – 6th Qatar Goodwood Festival winner