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Envoy makes Champagne frame

War Envoy ran a pleasing race to fill the runner-up berth in the At The Races Champagne Stakes at Doncaster.

Aidan O'Brien's youngster was stepping up to seven furlongs for the first time in the Group Two and finished his race to good effect, reeling in all but length-and-a-quarter winner Estidhkaar.

Kevin Buckley, Coolmore's UK representative, said: "It was a slow pace to start with, then they went quick and fast.

"He would have preferred faster ground, but he stayed out the trip well which was encouraging - it was a step up from him as he'd been racing over six. After that it's not beyond the realms of possibility he'd stay a mile, but he needs to get his fast ground."

Sent off the 10-11 favourite, it was not totally straightforward for Estidhkaar, who was quite free in the early stages behind the front-running Aces. It took a little time for the Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned winner to reel in Aces and Belardo, but having asserted at the half-furlong pole he stayed on strongly from there.

It took an age for Paul Hanagan to pull the son of Dark Angel up, and he said: "He's got a great temperament.

"It was a bit of a messy race and I could have done to have gone a bit quicker, but at the same time he hadn't run for a while so he was little bit fresh. The further he went the better, I couldn't quite pull him up.

"He's bang up there (among the top two-year-olds)."

Trainer Richard Hannon said: "I think he could have been more impressive if they'd gone quicker.

"He's a horse we've always liked. We've taken our time, with the intention to come here and then go for the Dewhurst or possibly the Racing Post Trophy back here.

"He's a lovely, long-striding horse and really sticks his neck out and tries hard. This would have done him good and he's won with a penalty. The Guineas is the aim for next year."

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