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Cracking quartet on agenda for Tim Easterby
The journey from Great Habton to Redcar, a picturesque drive across the North York Moors taking in Hutton-le-Hole and Castleton en route, is one that Tim Easterby knows only too well on the first Saturday in October. More than once it has proved a road to riches.
Twelve months ago at Redcar’s biggest day of the year, Easterby won the featured Totepool Two-Year-Old Trophy with Body And Soul, whose success in a race which carried a winning purse of more than £125,000 carried on a tradition for the trainer.
Easterby also won the juvenile showpiece – one of the richest races for first-season performers in Europe – in 1998 with Pipalong and in 2002 with Somnus. Indeed, he is the only trainer to have won the race three times in its 24-year history.
On Saturday, Easterby will bid to make it four trophy wins with a strong team of entries, spearheaded by See The Sun, Ventura Mist and Azagal. Fittingly, See The Sun is owned by Charlie Stevens, a long-time patron of Habton Grange, whose colours were carried to success last year by Body And Soul.
Although beaten in his first two outings this season, See The Sun has made rapid headway since, breaking his maiden at Pontefract before overcoming a tricky draw in handicap company at Thirsk. Significantly, Easterby nominated Saturday’s race as his target after his latest success.
Ventura Mist, also a dual-winner this term, is tough and consistent. She appeared in the Group 3 Firth Of Clyde Stakes at Ayr a couple of weeks ago and ran a blinder to be narrowly beaten into third in a blanket finish on behalf of her owners, Middleham Park Racing.
As for Azagal, owned by Roger Sidebottom, one of the partners in 2002 winner Somnus, she finished unplaced and failed to produce her best in the Ayr race but she had previously gone down narrowly at Doncaster in another big-money juvenile event as she sought to gain her third success of the season.
A huge field, likely to include representatives from the Aidan O’Brien stable in Ireland and that of Richard Hannon, Britain’s leading trainer, is guaranteed at Redcar.
But for many people the main focus of attention will be on horses trained by Easterby as he seeks to strike it rich yet again and win this coveted trophy for a record fourth time.
• Richard Fahey, who has experienced joy and frustration at Longchamp’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe meeting, will be returning to the prestigious Paris venue this weekend hoping to add to his scoresheet.
Twelve months ago, Mayson, Fahey’s July Cup winner, was caught in the dying strides of the Prix de l’Abbaye, but in 2010 Wootton Bassett made every yard of the running to claim the Prix Jean-Luc Lagadere and provide the Malton trainer – and jockey Paul Hanagan – with their first Group 1 triumph.
Three years earlier, Anna Pavlova had won the Group 2 Prix de Royallieu Hotel Hermitage Barriere for Fahey with Frankie Dettori in the saddle.
Trainer and jockey team-up again on Sunday when Sandiva, the north’s best juvenile filly, tackles the Prix Marcel Boussac on a day when Fahey will be bidding for a Group 1 double courtesy of Garswood in the Prix de la Foret. Sandiva, beaten only once in four starts – when second in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot in June – was most recently successful at Deauville in August when winning the Group 3 Prix du Calvados in impressive fashion.
That was the first time Dettori had ridden her following her purchase by the jockey’s new retaining Qatar-based owner, Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Al Thani, an emerging force in European racing with an ever-growing string of classy horses.
On Sunday, Sandiva steps up in distance once again as she aims to further enhance her claims for next year’s 1,000 Guineas. A Longchamp triumph would almost certainly see her figure among the market leaders for the Newmarket Classic for which she is currently priced at around 16-1.
Fahey said: “She worked well last Sunday and could not be in better form. She has to get the mile, but Frankie was very keen to try her.”
Whatever the fate of Sandiva, Fahey has another Longchamp arrow to fire in the shape of Garswood, who steps back up to seven furlongs after creditably finishing a staying-on sixth in the Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock over six furlongs on his latest outing.
Garswood’s two previous wins this season, in the European Free Handicap at Newmarket, a Listed event, and Goodwood’s Group 2 Lennox Stakes were both gained over seven furlongs.
In opposition to the Malton colt at Longchamp is the brilliant French filly Midnight Cloud, who looks sure to go off a red-hot favourite, and Irish challenger Gordon Lord Byron, winner of Garswood’s Haydock race, and also successful in this contest 12 months ago.
• Any votes for the unluckiest horse of the Flat season? Racy would surely attract a few after maintaining a luckless sequence at Haydock last Saturday.
Trained by Brian Ellison for Koo’s Racing Club, who shrewdly acquired the sprinter at the end of May for £10,000 after he’d easily won a modest claimer at Brighton, Racy has multiplied his purchase price since – but has not been able to get his head in front.
His runner-up effort at Haydock last weekend extended a frustrating sequence, which includes a close-up fourth in the Portland Handicap at Doncaster, an identical finishing position in Goodwood’s Stewards’ Cup, a half-length second at Ascot and being beaten a mere whisker in the Scottish Sprint Cup at Musselburgh.
That Racy is a talented handicapper with a big prize in him is beyond doubt. But, now a six-year-old with only two victories from 32 attempts, he has been difficult to win with throughout his career as his previous trainers, Sir Michael Stoute, Kevin Ryan and Ed McMahon know full well. Ellison will keep on trying. One of these days, Racy will, hopefully, get his head in front again where it matters most – at the winning post.
• Paul Midgley’s knack of training sprinters continues to stand him in good stead.
The Westow handler has enjoyed a good time of it lately with Oldjoesaid gaining a slender 12-1 win under George Chaloner at Pontefract and Irish Girls Spirit doing the business at 7-2 at Musselburgh in the hands of fellow apprentice, Shirley Teasdale.
York’s Jake Butterfield was another claimer to shine last week. He rode his 15th winner of the season on Shamrocked for his boss, Ollie Pears, at Ripon’s final meeting of the campaign, where the experienced David Nolan took the principal honours with a stylish success on the David O’Meara-trained Doc Hay in the featured sprint.
• Last Saturday’s Cambridgeshire Handicap may have fallen to a Newmarket-based horse, trained by a native of the UAE and ridden by a top Irish jockey, but the winner was bred in Ryedale.
Educate, who got home by a short-head from Code Of Honour on behalf of the trainer-jockey combination of Ismail Mohammed and Johnny Murtagh, was bred by Lady Caroline Legard of Scampston Hall.
By the sire Echo Of Light, Educate is a son of Lady Legard’s mare Pasithea and is comfortably the best of her progeny, having now won six races, including the famous first leg of the Autumn Double.
• Last, but certainly not least, congratulations go to Dudley Taylor, who has been deservedly recognised and honoured for his long-time role as Easthorpe Hall Stud Manager.
The conscientious Taylor, a hugely-experienced horseman, started working at the stud for Peter Easterby in 1973 and, up until his retirement last year, managed 14 stallions and reared the St Leger winner Bollin Eric, trained by Tim Easterby.
Taylor scooped the Stud Staff Award at the Pride of Racing Awards, in aid of Racing Welfare, at Haydock Park last weekend.
“It was a great day and a great honour because it shows that the people who do work aren’t forgotten, which is very important. It’s nice to think that other people do appreciate the work you have done,” said Taylor.
Among the other prize winners was Paul ‘Barney’ Bamford, the former stable-lad left paralysed by a riding accident in 2006, who last year raised more than £80,000 for Racing Welfare after hand-pedalling his wheelchair 105 miles between Redcar and Doncaster racecourses, a route which included an overnight stop in Malton, where he caught up with his racing friends.
Bamford picked up the Outstanding Contribution Award.
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