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2000 up for King as stable cues up successful weekend

The master of Barbury has brought his stable back into form in the nick of time for Ascot. Following a winnerless June, the stable was back among the winners this weekend with 4 winners spread between Sandown and Aintree. And for good measure, Westerton's 4 1/2l victory under Ryan Moore in a maiden brought up the trainer's 2000th winner in the UK.

It's not as if the horses had been running poorly. Three runners-up had been beaten no more than a neck, but sometimes Lady Luck's glance passes you by. This changed for the better on Friday at Sandown when 4 year old Paradias led close home to win a 1m2f handicap under Hollie Doyle, then 3 year old Lionella ran out a comfortable winner of a handicap over an additional 4f also at Sandown under Rossa Ryan. Fifty minutes later and 224 miles north west, Tom Cannon pushed another juvenile, Two Past Eight, to hold a 2 1/2l advantage at the line in a 3 year olds hurdle at Aintree.

But there were sore heads at Barbury on Sunday morning after King achieved a personal milestone in the smart 1 1/4m maiden on Saturday. Westerton has been running in the best of company these past few months, with runner-up positions at Nottingham, Doncaster and Ascot. What better way to bring up a 2,000th career winner 24 years after setting out in 1999.

The stable has earned a place among the most versatile of training establishments, as comfortable turning out winners at Royal Ascot as at Cheltenham. Ever the pragmatist, King is at his best with 3 and 4 year olds who can win their handicap over a middle distance, and then turn their attention to a jumps career when the clocks change. The stable earned nearly £950,000 from its flat runners in 2022, slightly more than 50% of the stable's total earnings - not entirely surprising insofar as the flat calendar continues all year round nowadays through AWT racing.

Sandown winner Paradias may well reappear in one of York's marquee events the John Smith's Magnet Cup on Saturday, but before then, there are chances for Tritonic in the Ascot Stakes, Raymond Tusk in the Copper Horse Handicap, and Trueshaan in the Royal meeting's feature Gold Cup. Trueshaan may be past his peak, but he owes the stable nothing, and merits his place on previous record alone.

The next 2,000 winners should take less than half the time of the first. Let's drink to that.

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