The David Barron-trained Pearl Secret narrowly retained his unbeaten record with a hard-fought victory over the gallant Free Zone in Sandown’s listed Scurry Stakes, justifying his trainer’s decision to side-step the showcase Royal Ascot fixture, writes Elliot Slater.
On very testing ground and with underfoot conditions having reduced the field for the five furlong contest to just six, the Richard Hughes-ridden three-year-old was sent off the red-hot odds betting 1/3 favourite having won in some style on his three previous racecourse appearances. Despite failing to find cover in the early stages of the contest and pulling hard under Hughes (who was taking over from Jamie Spencer), the son of Compton Place breezed past most of his rivals to move upside the front-running Free Zone, but then had to get serious inside the final furlong before eventually prevailing by a neck from his gutsy fellow northern raider.
A relieved Barron felt vindicated that he had not sent his rising star to Royal Ascot having been of the opinion that the three-year-old was still in need of racecourse experience before tackling Group 1 company. Now Barron feels that the imposing chestnut can set his sights on the Nunthorpe Stakes at York’s Ebor fixture in mid-August, with sport betting markets hoping that Pearl Secret will encounter better ground than at Sandown. It seems reasonable to expect that the Esher listed winner may seek at least one more piece of racecourse experience before tackling the cream of sprint performers on the Knavesmire.
Barrons’ charge is entered in the July Cup at Newmarket next month but David Redvers, spokesman for the unbeaten Sheik Al Thani-owned rising star, suggested that the Newmarket contest is an unlikely next step for the horse who has yet to taste defeat after two wins at York, one at Doncaster, and this latest triumph at Sandown.