Paul Hanagan rides Muhaarar to Gimcrack Stakes victory

Paul Hanagan rides Muhaarar to Gimcrack Stakes victory

Muhaarar, ridden by Paul Hanagan, right, wins the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes on day four of the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival at York. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Custom Cut, ridden by Daniel Tudhope, is victorious in the Betfred Play Today’s 2Million Scoop6 Strensall Stakes. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

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MUHAARAR got his head in front in the final strides to give former Malton jockey Paul Hanagan an Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes victory as the Ebor Festival came to a close at York Racecourse.

Jungle Cat, trained by Mark Johnston, did all he could to claim the six furlong Group 2 contest – leading from the start and sticking on gamely as challengers loomed all around him.

But Muhaarar (7-1), saddled by Charlie Hills, profited from a final surge that saw him claim a photo finish by just a nose.

Former dual champion rider Hanagan, who forged his successful career with Richard Fahey at Musley Bank, said: “He’s the most genuine horse. He had his head on the floor he was trying that hard. I couldn’t ask for any more.

“He’s really quite straightforward and he has got quite a lot of kick.”

Reflecting on Taghrooda’s defeat in the Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday, Hanagan added: “It was hard to take. If there were any excuses I couldn’t find that many.

“She was beaten by a better filly. There was such a big build up here, and with it being York especially, but you have just got to take it. That’s racing.”

Hanagan would later bag a double when Queensbury Rules (8-1) floored his opponents in the Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Handicap for trainer William Haggas.

David O’Meara had to wait until the fourth day, but York’s leading trainer finally got off the mark as the Ebor Festival came to a close as Custom Cut won the Strensall Stakes.

The five-year-old showed real grit and determination to win the £80,000 Group 3 contest – battling gamely back to the head of affairs after being overtaken by Trade Storm inside the final quarter of a mile.

Having led much of the way in his bid to rack up a quartet of successive victories, there seemed no way back for Custom Cut, and jockey Daniel Tudhope, when Jamie Spencer and Trade Storm came sailing by.

But the gelding put his head down admirably, forcing his way not just past his rival but also holding off the fast approaching Lady Lara to score by a neck.

It was Nawton trainer O’Meara’s ninth victory of the Knavesmire campaign.

“He’s tough and it was an excellent ride from Danny Tudhope,” said the Arthington Barn Stables handler. “He judged it absolutely perfectly.

“Fast ground is not really ideal for him but he has been a great little horse this year. It’s great to get a winner at this meeting.

“We were beaten by a head in the first race and it is always great to have a winner at York.”

A dramatic finish to the Betfred Melrose Stakes saw Vent De Force (16-1) produced with a late run to win.

But the one mile, six furlong contest had a tumultuous ending as Joe Doyle, on board Mantou, started to slip off the side of the three-year-old as the line approached as the saddle broke.

He crashed to the floor, somehow managing to avoid the onrushing remainder of the field, and somehow emerged unscathed.

Spencer, who announced his intention to quit the saddle at the end of the season earlier in the Festival, punched the air in delight as Mind of Madness (4-1) hit the line in front in the Listed Julia Groves Stakes.

It needed a photograph, though, to separate the David Brown-trained juvenile from 2-1 favourite Moonraker.

Sutton Bank trainer Kevin Ryan closed the meeting in fine style for North Yorkshire watchers when Online Alexander won the QIPCO Future Stars Apprentice Stakes under Kevin Stott.

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