Shantaram shows steel at HQ
Shantaram managed to shed his maiden tag but was still made to work fairly hard in unfavourable conditions at Newmarket.
If losing by a nose to subsequent Chester Vase runner-up Model Pupil on his reappearance was not strong enough form, Shantaram's most recent effort had been to finish less than a length behind Main Sequence in the Lingfield Derby Trial.
The fact Main Sequence went on to get closest to Camelot in the Derby itself went a long way towards explaining why John Gosden's colt went off the 1-8 favourite for the Countryside Alliance Foundation Maiden Stakes.
William Buick looked happy, despite the soft ground, for much of the way but suddenly had distance to make up on stablemate Mashaari and Black Mascara, only overcoming them inside the final furlong to finish three-quarters of a length ahead.
"William said he travelled all right and asked him to go but his legs went all over the place," said Gosden.
"The one thing we have learned is that he doesn't like soft ground so we'll see how he comes out of it.
"We'll get a bit of work into him on decent ground, but he could go anywhere."
Shantaram is entered in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and Buick said: "The ground wasn't in his favour, he's still a big baby but he's a nice horse and has won his maiden.
"All options are open, but I sense they won't be rushing him into anything he can't handle."
The betting did not foreshadow it, but there have been few more impressive two-year-old fillies seen so far than Gosden's Newfangled (10-1).
While many of the newcomers were left trudging through the mud, Princess Haya's runner made it looked a piece of cake as she strolled four and a half lengths clear in the Lloyds TSB Commercial EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes.
Gosden was worried about Newfangled knocking a leg in the stalls, but said: "This filly has always shown me a lot, I didn't know if she would handle ground as all her work has been on good and she has a lovely stride on her.
"Provided the leg is OK, if you want to run at Ascot, it's a nice fit."
Charlotte Rosina (20-1) made all of the running in division one of the Countryside Alliance British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies' Handicap to defy the hat-trick-seeking Athenian (2-1 favourite).
"We'll just climb the ladder steadily," trainer Roger Teal told Racing UK.
"She has done so well this year, we'll just see what's on the cards."
Lollina Paulina (4-1) badly hampered Bella Ophelia in division two but kept the race after a long stewards inquiry, although officials elected to give winning jockey Neil Callan a four-day careless riding ban (June 24-17).
The nomadic Paramour (9-1) struck when making all on his debut for Alan Bailey in the Lloyds TSB Cardnet Handicap.
One likely to go down the King Edward VII route is Sir Henry Cecil's Thomas Chippendale.
After making a reasonable reappearance at Newbury, the 13-8 favourite was in a class of his own in the Lloyds TSB For Journey Handicap.
"He's taken a long time to come to himself, he wasn't eating very well and came round the outside at Newbury," said Cecil.
"I wanted to run to see if there was any chance he could go to Ascot for Sir Robert Ogden. I think he wants a mile and a half and he'll hopefully he'll come out of this race and go for the King Edward.
"The horses are just beginning to come into form and they've got to keep stepping up. I think Wrotham Heath and Stipulate will go a mile and a quarter at Ascot (Tercentenary Stakes). Twice Over is probably going to the Eclipse."
Pat Phelan's Dellbuoy (10-1) remains unbeaten after the Lloyds TSB Cardnet Classified Stakes.
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