Santosha hands first Group race success to trainer David Loughnane and jockey Thomas Greatrex in G3 Princess Margaret Betfred Stakes

The G3 Princess Margaret Betfred Stakes, staged over six furlongs for two-year-old fillies, saw both trainer David Loughnane and jockey Thomas Greatrex enjoy a first Group race success as 5/1 chance Santosha took the honours.

Shropshire-based Loughnane went into today’s race double-handed and it was his other runner Caroline Dale (Hollie Doyle, 4/1) who took the field along. Santosha challenged and took the lead entering the final quarter mile and kept on strongly to hold off the challenge of Hala Hala Hala (Kevin Ryan/Oisin Murphy, 7/1) by three-quarters of a length. Caroline Dale kept on to give the trainer a 1-3, a further three-quarters of a length adrift.

David Loughnane said: “It’s great to have my first Group winner at Ascot. It’s the Mecca, isn’t it, everyone wants to train winners here. We work very hard and we have had a lot of luck along the way, but it’s the icing on the cake that our first Group winner is here.

“I think from two out I was screaming, ‘come on, girls’ rather than any individual one of them. I sat on them both Wednesday or Thursday morning and I told bother owners I wouldn’t be able to split them. I told Tom and Hollie, you come to the half-furlong marker together and from there, may the best horse win, and it was pretty close to that. Caroline Dale’s run a blinder; she has got headed and she has stayed on and galloped all the way to the line. She is a very tough filly and has got so much speed. Hindsight’s a great thing; maybe we should have gone for the Molecomb Stakes [at Glorious Goodwood next week] but this felt like the right race. She will have her day.

“The ground was probably quick enough for Santosha. As Tom said afterwards, he has got to the front a touch soon on her, but you have to commit in these races, and he has committed, he has made up his mind and he has gone there. She has done it well and I’m over the moon.

“Obviously I would have preferred not to run the two horses against each other, because I would prefer two Group winners to one, but we have to train them as individuals and we have done that. It looked like the right race and we have taken our chance. They have both run their races; Caroline Dale has by no means been disgraced. She hss gone very hard in front and looked the winner at halfway. Santosha – the race ran to suit her just a little bit better. It was great.

“Santosha should never have been the price she was; my surname might have something to do with that, but we are looking to change that. She was still a touch green today; she is a very progressive filly and we’ve got a lot to look forward to. I think she will probably be a nicer filly next year, stepping her up to seven furlongs and a mile. She travels so sweetly, she never overdoes herself. She does what you want her to do and is push-button.

“Today was the plan, but the Lowther [at York] would have to be one of the next on her list. There are quite a few options in France for her. We’ll get them home safe and sound and make sure they are safe and sound, and sit down with the owners and make a plan from there. The owners, Susan and Paddy Lynas, mentioned the Cheveley Park Stakes after she ran in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes [at Newmarket on July 10], and if she keeps going in the right direction, that’s where we will be.

“We have got 63, 65 boxes, and that’s as big as we’ll be. Our ideal scenario is the idea of a boutique stable. I think you need to have 60 horses or 200, and we’ve no ambition to have 200 because it takes away from the way we train, which is a very personal approach. I still ride out every day and I like to get to know the horses. We have got a good team and are never worrying about not having enough staff – we are probably the only yard in the country that isn’t understaffed. It just works, and we have proved that again today. We have slowly but surely been putting ourselves on the map in the past few years. We were adamant from day one that we could compete at any level, given the ammo. We have the owners now who are giving us those opportunities, and we are over the moon that we are able to repay them for that.”

Tom Greatrex said: “That was brilliant; it’s another step in the right direction. Her form has worked out well – the horse that was second [when Santosha was third] went on to win a Listed race at Sandown, so we thought we had a good chance, and we had Caroline Dale to set a good gallop. We got a lovely run into the race and she has really stuck her head down and galloped. She got a bit lonely in front in the end, but she was brilliant. Stepping up in trip will be no problem at all – she stayed really well.

“Santosha is still learning – I was running in snatches during the race, but once I got hold of her at the two-furlong pole, she actually went down a gear and took off. She was impressive and still improving, and it was great to get my first Group winner today. It is what we work towards. It is something I never really thought I would be doing, and it’s great to get the opportunity from Dave [Loughnane], and the team at home support me a lot, so it’s great to give them a Group winner.”

3.40pm G3 Princess Margaret Betfred Stakes

1 Santosha – David Loughnane 2-9-00 Thomas Greatrex 5/1

2 Hala Hala Hala – Kevin Ryan 2-9-00 Oisin Murphy 7/1

3 Caroline Dale – David Loughane 2-9-00 Hollie Doyle 4/1

Winner owned by Ms S Lynas

Breeding: b f Coulsty (IRE) – Princess Zoffany (IRE) (Zoffany)

Breeder: Paddy Murray

7 ran

11/8 Fav More Beautiful (6th)

Time: 1m 14.53s

Distances: ¾, ¾

Tote Win: £6.50 Places: £3.20 £2.90 Exacta: £35.70