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Richard Fahey emotions to run high
An orphaned foal who is fast becoming a star of the sprinting world will bid to land an emotional victory at York next week.
Mayson, trained by Malton’s Richard Fahey, has won his last two starts at Newmarket and is now set to step up to Group 2 company in the Duke Of York Stakes – a race Fahey won in 2009 with Utmost Respect, only a matter of weeks before his top-notch speedster and stable-star succumbed to peritonitis and lost his life.
Fahey has a daily reminder of Utmost Respect, who was laid to rest at his Musley Bank yard, and nothing would give him more pleasure now than to see Mayson, the horse who had such a bad start to his life, capture the sprinting showpiece of York’s Dante Festival on a course where Fahey has been leading trainer for the last six years.
Owned and bred by David and Emma Armstrong, Mayson was left orphaned at three months old when his dam, Mayleaf, died.
“She was riddled with cancer, nothing could be done for her,” said David, recalling the sad and dramatic turn of events, which saw Mayson being raised by hand, before a foster-mare could be found for him.
“My wife Emma and daughter Sophie looked after him, fed him milk pellets and kept him going, before we found another mare to turn him out with,” added the Lancashire-based enthusiast.
Mayson’s troubled early days have not tarnished his ability. A useful juvenile, he confirmed his talents last year, despite having a delayed start, but has really come into his own this season as a four-year-old.
“It was tough for him last year, as it often is for a three-year-old, and things just didn’t quite go right for him,” said Fahey.
It’s been different this year, however, with two impressive wins. “He’s more relaxed and more mature this season,” explained his trainer. “It’s all come together with him now.”
It shows. Having finished third in the Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster on his reappearance, Mayson ran out a decisive winner of the Abernant Stakes, a Listed race, at Newmarket next time and followed up last Saturday in the Group 3 Palace House Stakes.
“He’s beginning to look a very good horse,” acknowledged Fahey. “He’s got what only good horses possess, which is the ability to quicken off a fast pace. He’s done it over five and six furlongs, but I do think six furlongs is probably his best trip.”
Success in next Wednesday’s Duke Of York Stakes would be extremely poignant for Fahey, given Utmost Respect’s victory in the same race three years ago. Utmost Respect followed up a couple of weeks later at The Curragh but died that summer, which was heartbreaking for everyone associated with him.
“Utmost Respect was a hell of a good horse and was just approaching his prime,” said Fahey, now keeping his fingers firmly crossed that Mayson can scale similar heights.
“There’s more to come from him, I’m sure of that. It’s emotional for David and Emma when they watch him race, because he was hand-reared and means so much to them. And when Emma gets emotional, I get emotional,” admitted Fahey.
One way or another it will be emotional stuff next week. Mayson, the orphan, becoming a star on Knavesmire is the stuff of fairytales.
• Paul Hanagan will be able to maintain his association with Mayson at York, despite being forced to sit out two of the three days of the Dante Festival.
The dual-champion jockey fell foul of the stewards at Musselburgh last week when he was found guilty of careless riding on Fahey’s juvenile winner, Jubilee Games, and received a two-day ban.
The suspension will cost Hanagan the chance to ride the Roger Varian-trained Ektihaam, on whom he recently won at Newbury, in the Dante Stakes, plus he’ll also miss other plum mounts on Thursday and Friday. The good news, however, is he will be free to partner Mayson, whom he has ridden to two powerful wins this season.
• Among the opposition being lined up for the Duke Of York Stakes is Hoof It, one of the Gazette & Herald’s ‘Ten to Follow’ this season and the outstanding star of Mick Easterby’s Sheriff Hutton yard.
A horse who carries the colours of top golfer Lee Westwood, Hoof It was twice a York winner last season before running away with the Wokingham Handicap at Goodwood. He then narrowly and unluckily failed to win the Group 1 Haydock Park Sprint Cup on his final start.
His first appearance of the campaign is eagerly awaited by many on a course where he has such a loyal following.
The Easterby yard is in excellent form as Towbee confirmed when scoring at Beverley on Monday in the hands of Jimmy Sullivan, one of three winners at the meeting for the Norton jockey, who also rode a double for Stillington’s Ruth Carr.
• There was no joy for Ryedale’s two Classic runners last weekend.
Red Duke, trained by John Quinn, finished 11th of 18 runners in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas on ground much softer than he prefers, while Richard Fahey’s Lily’s Angel finished seventh of 17 in the 1,000 Guineas.
Fahey followed up by winning with Sparkling Portrait, who looks a horse with a big future. Also on the mark the previous evening at Doncaster was the stable’s apprentice, George Chaloner, on Calaf, notching his first winner since fracturing a knee in an accident in December.
• Ollie Pears and Linda Stubbs, neighbouring Norton trainers, both had a welcome change of luck last weekend.
Pears, who has been going through a frustrating barren spell, was on the mark with Noodles Blue Boy at Thirsk, while Stubbs, who admits that “our horses hadn’t been right and everything that could go wrong, did go wrong”, followed up at Hamilton on Sunday with Qubuh, who battled home by a head.
Paul Midgley was another Ryedale trainer among the winners last week, courtesy of Wiseman’s Diamond at Pontefract, while Great Habton’s Lawrence Mullaney opened his account for the season at Beverley on Monday with Lolita Lebron.
A couple of Ryedale apprentices to enjoy a taste of glory were the vastly experienced Lee Topliss, seen to excellent effect on the headstrong Half A Billion at Musselburgh, and Jake Butterfield, who made a rare Windsor trip on Monday and was rewarded with a victory on Gracie’s Games.
• Brian Ellison continues to fire in the winners. The Norton trainer spreads his net far and wide in search of success, a fact highlighted last weekend, when he scored with Lindoro at Musselburgh and, the following day, with Lifetime at Goodwood. The two winners were both ridden by apprentices, Amy Ryan and Darren Egan respectively.
Although Memory Cloth failed to add to Ellison’s tally at Newmarket on Saturday, he ran a blinder to finish second in a hot handicap and looks the type to bag a major prize in the weeks ahead.
• However many winners David O’Meara trains in his career, it’s perhaps unlikely he’ll secure a better bargain than Powerful Presence, bought for just £800 at Doncaster Sales in November 2010 with no wins to his name and little form to recommend him.
Previously trained in Ireland by Dermot Weld, Powerful Presence has since won six races and more than £24,000 in prize money since moving to Ryedale. His latest success came at Musselburgh last week with a decisive performance which suggests there is still more to come from this progressive gelding.
O’Meara’s Scottish success was a milestone victory – his 100th training triumph.
Number 101 came on Monday at Beverley with Toto Skyllachy, likewise ridden by stable-jockey Danny Tudhope.
• As old-timers go, Amicelli is in a league of his own. Trained at Scackleton by Cherry Coward, Mick Easterby’s daughter, he is now 13 years old. Not that you’d know it. At Cheltenham last week in the prestigious Aga Ladies’ Open Point-to-Point Championship Final Hunters’ Chase, Amicelli ran his heart out for trainer’s daughter Jacqueline Coward, who can surely never have given a horse a better ride in her young life. At the line, old and young passed the post with a neck to spare and returned to the winners’ enclosure to be given a hero’s reception.
It was on this same course, back in 2008, that Amicelli gained the highlight of his 11-winner career when landing the Christies’ Hunters’ Chase at 33-1 to add his name to roll of honour of the Cheltenham Festival. Still going strong, still as enthusiastic as ever, Amicelli is a horse in a million.
• Attaglance pulled off a notable double for Malcolm Jefferson when winning handicap hurdles at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals just a few weeks ago.
The Norton trainer can now dream about another from the same family. Hi George, a half-brother to Attaglance, gained at 7-1 success at Kelso last week under Harry Haynes. “He’s only a baby, but we’ve always thought a lot about him,” says Jefferson.