Clive Cox has trained several sprinters who have achieved more than Tis Marvelous, but few are above him in his affections as the redoubtable seven-year-old landed another notable prize in Ascot’s Oakman Group Rous Stakes.
Cox had always felt Tis Marvelous was at his best on a sound surface – but with the ground worsening by the hour thanks to persistent rain, he showed his versatility with arguably a career-best display as he won at the track for the fourth time.
Running with a penalty earned for success in the Beverley Bullet earlier in the season, Adam Kirby tracked Dakota Gold – and when the previous dual winner of the race drifted off the rail, Tis Marvelous shot clear.
With Hurricane Ivor disappointing, it was left to last year’s Gimcrack winner Minzaal to take second – on his first start of the season.
Cox said: “He’s so full of confidence and is an absolute superstar to have anything to do with.
“He was a good two-year-old and broke the track record at Maisons-Laffitte when winning the Robert Papin, and broke the record at Beverley in the Bullet, so to finish off the season like this is brilliant.
“We were worried about the ground, as everyone is today, but he loves Ascot – as he has shown throughout his career – and he’s performing at his best level ever.”
Owen Burrows was thrilled with Minzaal, on his first outing for 371 days, and may bring him back to Ascot for the British Champions Sprint in two weeks – a race for which he was cut to 8-1 from 20s by Paddy Power.
“He ran a blinder, and I’m chuffed to bits,” said Burrows.
“If he comes out of this well Champions Day has to come into the equation.
“We were worried about the ground, which was why we ran over five. He’s having a nice blow, but it could enter calculations.”
Few fillies in training excel more when the mud is flying than With Thanks, and the rain came just in time for her to get her toe in to win the World Mental Health Day British EBF Stakes.
The William Haggas-trained four-year-old had won three and been second once on heavy ground – and while it was not quite that testing for the opener, there was a distinct ease in the ground.
With just over a furlong to run, Tom Marquand appeared blocked behind a wall of horses as Royal Ascot winner Highfield Princess set the pace – but when the gap came, With Thanks (7-2) was good enough to quicken clear.
Bounce The Blues gave vain chase but failed by a head.
Marquand said: “She ran at Newbury two weeks ago on ground quicker than she likes, but it was all in preparation for when the ground was in her favour.
“I got a little bit short of room, but she quickened up really nicely when she had to.”
Maureen Haggas added: “She loves this ground and she’s a game little thing.
“She was all dressed up with nowhere to go. But when she got out she toughed it out, and on this ground she’s a talented filly. She’ll make a nice broodmare.
“I’m sure there’s be something left for her if the ground stays like this. She hasn’t had much racing.