GBI RACING

Never Back Down on Commonwealth Cup trail following Newbury surprise

Never Back Down wins the Shalaa Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury (Tim Goode/PA)

Hugo Palmer was given a pleasant surprise as Never Back Down made his first start since being gelded a winning one after making all in the Shalaa Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury.

Having proved virtually unsteerable on All-Weather Finals Day at Lingfield last time out, the son of Kodiac kept to a true line on his return to turf, building on his fast exit to run out a half a length winner of the six-furlong Listed prize.

The winner was cut from 66-1 to 20-1 for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot by Paddy Power, and Palmer said of his 25-1 chance: “He has always had a lot of ability and we didn’t run him in a Listed race thinking he was no good.

“Sometimes when they are 25-1 they might ignore you in front, as you might stop, but he didn’t and Silvestre de Sousa got his fractions perfect.

“I had thought it was a waste of my owners’ money putting him in the Commonwealth Cup, but I suspect that’s where we will go next.”

Communique broke his maiden tag at the fifth time of asking in the Al Zubarah London Gold Cup.

Having shown potential finishing in the frame in each of his four previous starts, the 7-1 chance took a decisive step forward to land the mile-and-a-quarter contest by a length and three-quarters, complete a double for De Sousa.

Winning trainer Mark Johnston said: “I said to Joe Fanning beforehand that I thought Poet’s Prince was my first string. With a furlong and a half to go I thought it was all over, as Poet’s Prince was travelling so well.

“I thought Communique was falling back and I had to do a double take when I saw something coming out the pack and realised it was him.

“Silvestre de Sousa said he is not a fast-ground horse, but I think for the moment he is.

“He has seen it out well, but it didn’t look like that early on in the race. My first thought would be the King George V Stakes.”

The Irish Rover made amends in style for ruining his chance at Ascot last time out with an emphatic victory in the Olympic Glory Conditions Stakes.

The son of No Nay Never had lost several lengths at the start, but was still only beaten half a length when last of four at the Berkshire track on what was his second start.

There was no repeat of that as The Irish Rover (7-2) broke much better and travelled kindly before being asked by Ryan Moore to lead over a furlong out and win smoothly by two and a half lengths from Barbill.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien revealed The Irish Rover could now return to Ascot for the Royal meeting.

“We were thinking of one of the races at Royal Ascot, either the Coventry, Windsor Castle or Norfolk. Ryan thinks he has plenty of speed,” said O’Brien.

“He was very babyish at Ascot and we didn’t expect that to happen. He just reared up and lost six to eight lengths out the gate.

“If you lose six to eight lengths out of the gate, it is very hard to make up in any race and he still ran back to half a length, so we were delighted.

“He is like No Nay Never and shows plenty of speed. I think either five or six (furlongs) is not a problem. What will happen is the lads will decide a week before the way they want to split them up.”

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