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Mist clears way for Tim Easterby four-timer
VENTURA MIST, who hit the jackpot last Saturday when pocketing a first prize of more than £93,000 in the Redcar Two-Year-Old Trophy, could make a quick reappearance this weekend at York’s final meeting of 2013.
Great Habton trainer Tim Easterby has entered the filly in the £45,000 Coral Rockingham Stakes on Saturday, giving Ventura Mist the opportunity of gaining Listed race status, in an event he won last year with Royal Rascal.
Last Saturday saw Easterby continue his domination of Redcar’s showpiece contest, but he was made to sweat a little inside the final furlong before Ventura Mist came out on top in a blanket finish.
The verdict between the first three horses at the line was a neck and the same, but it was the Middleham Parkowned filly who took the honours at 10-1 in the hands of David Allan, also enjoying a notable payday. Spare a thought, however, for Duran Fentiman. He had ridden Ventura Mist in all her nine previous races, which included two wins and a Group race placing at Ayr. He was suspended on Saturday and so missed the opportunity of riding in a race he had won 12 months ago for Easterby on Body And Soul.
No other trainer in the 25-year history of this richly-endowed race has won it more than twice, but Ventura Mist was Easterby’s fourth success.
Pipalong in 1998 and Somnus in 2002 also figure on his roll of honour.
“It’s a race we always think about and target because it’s worth such a lot of money and it’s just down the road,” said Easterby, who saddled four of Saturday’s 23 runners.
“I thought she was our best chance.
She had run a blinder in a Group 3 race at Ayr last time and she’s so tough,” explained the trainer, reflecting on the fact that Ventura Mist has been on the go since April and whose previous successes included the Hilary Needler Trophy at Beverley in May. “She’s as hard as nails and just tries and tries,” added Easterby.
Ventura Mist has been entered in the Horses-in-Training Sales at Newmarket at the end of this month.
Easterby, however, doubts whether she will be sold. “I see no reason why she won’t train on and become an even better filly next year,” he predicted.
First things first, and she could be out again on Knavesmire on Saturday bidding for another useful payday in what promises to be a crackerjack of a race.
In opposition will be Richard Fahey’s Rufford, runner-up in the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury last month, while Ollie Pears is seriously considering running his useful and improving filly No Leaf Clover with Robert Winston in the saddle.
With prize money on offer of over £315,000, the closing York fixture on Friday and Saturday is the most valuable October finale ever staged on Knavesmire.
The £75,000 Coral Sprint Trophy takes pride of place and a strong local representation looks assured.
There is also the little matter of the trainers’ title. Malton trainer Fahey’s seven-year domination of this championship is facing serious competition.
Going into the final two days, Nawton’s David O’Meara and Hambleton’s Kevin Ryan lead the way with ten and eight winners respectively while both Fahey and Newmarket-based William Haggas are on seven winners.
Danny Tudhope, O’Meara's stable jockey, is in second place with seven winners in the riders’ trophy behind Ryan Moore, who is currently on nine.
• IT IS not only York where Ryedale attention will be focused this weekend.
At Newmarket on Saturday, the Betfred Cesarewitch Handicap over two-and-a-quarter miles sees John Quinn aiming to go one better than 12 months ago when his Countrywide Flame was narrowly beaten into second.
The Norton trainer is set to saddle Moidore and Recession Proof this time in a famous handicap which tests the limits of stamina.
It’s more about speed in the Middle Park Stakes and this Group 1 juvenile event is the target of Richard Fahey’s Supplicant, who has been supplemented for the race after continuing his rock-solid progress at Newbury last month winning the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes.
• FAST ground prevented Top Notch Tonto contesting the famous Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket when the Norton gelding was considered “a good thing” by his trainer Brian Ellison.
One week on from that aborted mission, the three-year-old gained a Listed victory at Redcar last Saturday in the Guisborough Stakes.
Ground considerations had again come under the radar, but Ellison, having received early assurances from the groundsman that the going was not at all firm, and having been satisfied by conditions when walking the course himself, was happy to give Tonto the go-ahead.
“It was lovely ground, just on the slow side of good and it proved he doesn’t need it soft. He just needs to get his toe in,” said Ellison after seeing Top Notch Tonto, under regular rider Dale Swift, run out a decisive 5- 1 winner from Caspar Netscher.
“He just loves it,” said the Spring Cottage trainer of the horse, whose previous success had come in Group 3 company at Haydock in the mud.
“Everyone said that was a fluke, but the form has worked out well,”
Ellison pointed out. “This time, he’s given weight and a beating to the others, so he can’t do any more.”
Plans for Top Notch Tonto do not include any immediate targets. “I think we’re going to give him a little holiday,” said Ellison, who, when pressed about the heights he may reach next year, added: “He could be a Group 2 horse. He’s already won a Group 3 and he’s still improving.”
Swift went on to complete a Redcar double on San Cassiano, trained at Stillington by Ruth Carr.
• A VICTORY at Longchamp on Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe day may have eluded Richard Fahey, but it was still a highly satisfactory weekend for the Malton trainer, who not only hit the 150-winner mark for the season on Saturday but also captured Ascot’s feature event.
Heaven’s Guest, who has proved a remarkable money-spinner this season, bagged a £93,000 winning purse when landing the Betfred Challenge Cup by a neck at 9-1 in the hands of Ryan Moore.
The three-year-old was winning his fourth race of season and, after previous big paydays at Epsom’s Derby meeting and Newmarket, not to mention a fourth-placed effort in the Ayr Gold Cup, has now amassed prize money of just short of £200,000 in his short career.
Fahey also scored on Saturday with Emerahldz, who followed-up a recent Carlisle win under Lee Topliss.
Garswood ran a blinder for Fahey at Longchamp, finishing third to the brilliant Moonlight Cloud in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret, while Sandiva failed to handle the soft ground and was seventh in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac.
The soft ground was also hardly in favour of Ladies Are Forever, but the talented sprinter, trained by Geoff Oldroyd for owner-breeder Reg Bond, ran a fine race to finish seventh in the Prix de l’Abbeye.
• TWO wins in four days with a sprinter, plus a handicap hurdle success, combined to produce a week to remember for Tony Coyle.
Thatcherite may not be the easiest of horses to handle, or the most predictable, but the Norton trainer has the gelding in rude health at present, a fact underlined by wins last week at Newcastle and Redcar, both times ridden by Stephen Craine. “He’s a bit tricky, but he’s done us proud,” said Coyle.
Equally at home training Flat horses or jumpers, Coyle followed up at Uttoxeter on Sunday with Flicka Williams, who justified favouritism in the hands of Noel Fehily to follow up a recent triumph at Bangor.
• RYEDALE apprentice David Bergin clinched a thrilling success on Ingleby Angel in the final of the Redcar Straight Mile Championship, but was made to pay a price for his photo-finish triumph.
Bergin was handed a seven-day ban for using his whip above the permitted level when bringing Ingleby Angel with a late run to post a short head success on behalf of his boss, David O’Meara, who was notching his 61st victory on Yorkshire courses this season.
• IF at first you don’t succeed...is an adage Neville Bycroft has stretched to the limit with Valentine’s Gift.
But the Ryedale trainer was deservedly rewarded for his patience at Nottingham last week when the five-year-old gelding finally gained his first success – at his 27th attempt!
Having given notice that a winning turn might not be beyond him when finishing second at Beverley last month, Valentine’s Gift came good under Catherine Walton in the lady amateur riders’ handicap over ten furlongs.
It was pretty decisive stuff.
Valentine’s Gift, carrying the colours of Hambleton Racing Partnership, won by one and three-quarter lengths at 20-1.
• KEVIN STOTT figured in the Redcar winners’ enclosure last Saturday when he recorded a milestone success on Bling King, trained by Geoff Harker.
It was Stott’s 20th career win and Kevin Ryan’s smart apprentice now has his allowance reduced to 5lb.
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