In-form Hughes turns up the heat
Richard Hughes has hit form in no uncertain fashion, and rode his 14th winner from the last seven days at Ascot on Sunday.
Despite missing the first month of the season because of a controversial ban he received in India, the jockey's startling run saw him move to within eight wins of the championship leader Ryan Moore.
Hughes is not likely to commit himself to another gruelling title race until after Glorious Goodwood - he fought in vain to the wire with Paul Hanagan in 2010 - but his trainer Richard Hannon is providing a constant supply of strong rides.
Dalkova (11-4), who moved from Sir Michael Stoute this year, came with a powerful run to pull three-quarters of a length in front of 2-1 favourite Light Shine and get off the mark at the fourth attempt in the Better Prices On Betfair Mobile Maiden Fillies' Stakes.
"I couldn't do it without Richard Hannon, but I'm loving it," said Hughes.
"Last night at Lingfield a horse kicked out and a leg just whistled past me, I could feel the 'whoosh'.
"If it had hit me I could have been out for the season, so it shows how lucky you can be.
"I'm clear of Goodwood for picking up a ban and Richard has a lot lined up for it, and is picking me two or three nice maidens every week, too."
Of Dalkova, he said: "She looked quick when we first got her, but we've found out she just needed further.
"I expect we'll find her a handicap, but she's a very stoutly-bred filly."
Marco Botti's visit was as swift as it was effective as Moohaajim (13-2) and Fattsota (7-1) provided a double from the opening two races.
Fellow Italians Andrea Atzeni and Mirco Demuro were the respective jockeys, with the former helping the trainer to make a perfect start in his collaboration with Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum by tearing away from several fancied youngsters in the Anders Foundation EBF Crocker Bulteel Maiden Stakes.
"It's my first runner for the owner, and he was the standout horse in the breeze-up sales when I bought him," said Botti.
"He's been ready to run but we've been waiting for better ground. You'd like to think he'd be able to run in a better race and will get seven furlongs."
Fattsota (7-1) then made most of the running in the GL Events Owen Brown Handicap, ahead of the admirable Cill Rialaig, who is in foal and likely to be running her final race.
"We'd been trying to hold him up but we changed tactics today and were happy to let him bowl along," said Botti.
"He stays well, and might even get two miles in time."
Speed is of the essence for progressive sprinter Nassau Storm (3-1 favourite), who ended a frustrating run for William Knight in the Betfair-sponsored handicap.
"We've had eight or nine seconds in the last couple of weeks - we haven't changed anything but keep hitting the crossbar," said the Sussex trainer.
Saaed bin Suroor's Ahzeemah (100-30 favourite), third in a hot event at York last time, took the Keltbray Handicap under a focussed Silvestre de Sousa.
Taajub (14-1) and Eddie Ahern headed Mass Rally in a tight finish to the SIS Sprint Handicap and made it a moment to treasure for owner-trainer Peter Crate.
Crate said: "That's the biggest winner of my career, no doubt.
"He's a joy to train and will come back here next week for the £100,000 handicap."