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A winning year for North Yorkshire racing
Libertarian and jockey William Buick with trainer Elaine Burke, and her husband, Karl, after victory in the Betfred Dante Stakes at York
WHEN a new year is about to dawn there’s only one thing to do... spend a while looking back at the last one. So as the festive season gets into full swing, these are Turf Talk’s best North Yorkshire racing moments of 2013.
9) Tony Hamilton’s big win on Glen’s Diamond
HE may have ridden for 14 years, and bolted home more than 400 winners, but Tony Hamilton’s biggest success came in May when Glen’s Diamond landed the Group 2 £140,000 QIPCO Yorkshire Cup on Knavesmire.
He was made to sweat for the win as well, the Richard Fahey-trained Malton gelding crossing the line almost simultaneously with French raider Top Trip in a thrilling finish.
But to the joy of Hamilton’s colleagues, and a partisan York crowd, Glen’s Diamond got home by a nose at 25-1.
8) Cape Tribulation beats Imperial Commander
MALCOLM Jefferson’s stable star at Norton had nothing to prove following a fantastic double at Cheltenham and Aintree last year.
But the hugely talented nine-year-old catapulted himself towards the top of the chasing division when taking down 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Imperial Commander in the Argento Chase in January in Gloucestershire.
Collaring his rival following the final flight, the victory paved the way for the Cape to play his own part in National Hunt racing’s blue riband event – he finished fifth behind Bobs Worth in the Gold Cup in March.
7) Peniaphobia wins the Weatherbys
Super Sprint PENIAPHOBIA means fear of poverty, but there was little chance of that for the owners of the Richard Fahey-trained colt after he won the £250,000 Super Sprint in July.
One of five runners sent down from Fahey’s Musley Bank base, the two-year-old was brought with a storming run down the centre of the track to catch the favourite, the Richard Hannon-trained Lilbourne Lass, in the final stages to win by a neck.
6) Garswood wins the Lennox Stakes
HE was described by trainer Richard Fahey as “a big schoolboy”, but three-year-old Garswood was top of the class when he struck gold at Glorious Goodwood.
He took the opening day feature of the five-day festival when the son of Dutch Art – a 9-4 favourite – came from last to first under jockey Ryan Moore to beat former Gimcrack Stakes winner Caspar Netscher by a cosy neck.
The three-year-old won the Free Handicap on his seasonal debut before a seventh place in the 2,000 Guineas and a fourth in the Jersey Stakes.
He scooped a £66,840 first prize for owners David Armstrong and Cheveley Park Stud.
5) David O’Meara is top trainer at York
A NEW king was crowned at York Racecourse in 2013.
After a seven-year spell as Knavesmire’s top trainer, Richard Fahey was eclipsed by Nawton’s David O’Meara. He didn’t even need a final day winner, his tally of ten keeping him two clear of Fahey.
4) Countrywide Flame finishes third in the Champion Hurdle
IT’S such a shame injury has ended this talented gelding’s career – ruling out another crack at hurdling’s best at Prestbury Park in March.
Nine months ago, John Quinn’s speedy jumper proved himself worthy of a place in the sport’s elite.
Lining up in a top-notch field which included the likes of Zarkandar and Binocular, the five-year-old found only Hurricane Fly, a previous winner, and Rock On Ruby, the defending champion, too good.
It was a performance which netted connections £42,800 and left everyone dreaming about what was to come. The injury – a stress fracture of a hind joint – struck before he got the chance to defend his Fighting Fifth Hurdle crown at Newcastle.
Unfortunately for Quinn and all at Highfield Stables, in Norton, Countrywide Flame had to be retired last weekend.
3) Top Notch Tonto shines at Ascot
HOWEVER confident they were, it was still a big gamble.
Norton trainer Brian Ellison, and owner Keith Brown, played the highest stakes when they supplemented Top Notch Tonto into the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II at Ascot at a cost of £70,000.
Having given Ellison his first Group 1 Flat winner in the Superior Mile at Haydock, and subsequently winning a Listed race at Redcar, the trainer may have felt he was playing with profit – but it was a risk that paid off in grand style.
Anticipating heavy rain and perfect soft ground for his charge, Ellison got it right in spectacular style.
Top Notch Tonto finished runner-up to Olympic Glory and netted a shade under £228,000.
2) Astaire’s late summer glory
OWNER Angie Bailey likes to name her horses after film stars renowned for being light on their feet, and boy could Astaire move on the racetrack.
He’d shown a glimpse at York in a maiden win in May and it was back on Knavesmire at the Ebor Festival where he really announced himself when winning the Gimcrack Stakes.
A neck too good for Wilshere Boulevard then, even better was to come at the start of October.
Neil Callan rode the colt to a half-length success over Hot Streak in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes, and great things surely await the Kevin Ryan-trained talent in 2014.
1) Libertarian wins the Dante Stakes
THE journey from the bottom to the top for the Spigot Lodge yard of Elaine and Karl Burke in Leyburn was climaxed in Libertarian.
Having built their stable back up again after Karl served a year-long British Horseracing Authority ban, they saddled the first Yorkshire-trained winner of the Dante Stakes for nearly 50 years in May.
Not since Ballymarais, in 1965, trained by Snowy Gray in Beverley, had the county achieved success in York Racecourse’s leading Derby trial and Libertarian tore up the form book to do it – beating Trading Leather by a length-and-a-quarter.
If that was a surprise, what Libertarian did a couple of weeks later was a huge shock.
He came from the back of the field at Epsom to finish runner-up to Ruler Of The World in The Derby and seal a fairytale comeback for Team Burke.
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