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Body And Soul hot but Mayson’s pipped in France
As Tim Easterby continues to trawl the yearling sales in England and Ireland, he surely faces an impossible task if he is to bag another bargain on the same scale as Body And Soul, writes Tom O’Ryan.
Twelve months ago at Doncaster, the Habton Grange trainer paid just £7,500 for the daughter of Captain Rio. Little did he know then that she would prove a superstar in her first season, though he did receive hints very early on it was money well spent.
“She’s been brilliant from the word go,” said Easterby on Saturday after Body And Soul gained her fourth win from six starts and boosted her prize-money earnings to a massive £285,956 after providing her handler with his third win in the richly-endowed Redcar Two-Year-Old Trophy.
Never before in the 25-year history of this race has a trainer won it three times, but Easterby, previously victorious with Pipalong and Somnus, completed the treble with a special filly, whose sire, Captain Rio, also won this event as a juvenile.
Said Easterby: “It’s not always that plans come off, but this one has.”
Part of that plan was to also win the Doncaster Bloodstock Sales Yearling Stakes at York’s Ebor Festival in August. But Body And Soul came up slightly short that time and was narrowly beaten into third place by the Kevin Ryan-trained Hototo. She got her revenge on Saturday, beating Hototo into second as she swept clear under Duran Fentiman to secure a whopping first prize of £125,385.
“I was never in any doubt, at any stage of the race, that she was going to win,” said the Ryedale jockey. “It was just a matter of getting a lead on her for long enough.”
Fentiman will be forever indebted to Body And Soul. He was also in the saddle when she won the Weatherbys Super Sprint – another jackpot-sized juvenile event – at Newbury in July and netted a winning purse of £122,925.
“They are the two biggest winners I’ve ever ridden, by a long, long way,” he confirms. Further confirmation will be reflected in his bank balance.
Before this season, Fentiman’s best season in terms of win prize money was the £129,000 accumulated in 2009. This term, thanks to Body And Soul, that figure has soared to more than £330,000, with his total haul just shy of £400,000 in a campaign which has yielded him 28 winners.
“She’s a wonderful filly,” said Easter-by, who trains her for long-standing stable patron Charles Stevens.
“She has gone a bit in her coat, but she’s as good as ever. She can’t half gallop and, although there are one or two races left for her this season, we’ll get home and see how she is before making any plans.”
Quite what Body And Soul will achieve in future seasons is anyone’s guess. But it’s worth noting Pipalong and Somnus, Easterby’s two previous winners of the Redcar showpiece, went on to land Group 1 prizes.
• So close yet so far. That was the tale of top Ryedale sprinter Mayson in France on Sunday when, after mastering neighbouring sprinter Hamish McGonagall inside the final furlong of the Prix de L’Abbaye, the 2-1 favourite was mugged in the dying strides by the fast finish of Wizz Kid to be denied his second Group 1 victory of the campaign.
“I was delighted with Mayson, but I do feel he got his pocket picked,” said trainer Richard Fahey after the neck defeat, which followed a sluggish start, in one of the most prestigious sprints in Europe.
Winner of the Group 1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket, Mayson was subsequently secured by Cheveley Park Stud, who bought a majority share in him with the intention of standing him as a stallion at the end of this season.
“He’ll run once more or not at all,” said Fahey. “He’s in the Qipco Champion Sprint at Ascot on Champions Day on October 20. The step back up to six furlongs would suit him, but we’ll see how he is and make a decision closer to the day.”
Tim Easterby was understandably proud of Hamish McGonagall, who finished only half a length behind Mayson in third place – a mighty effort from the front-runner, who started at 23-1.
“He’s just a superstar and he’s got a massive heart as well. He’s having a break now, but he’ll be back again next year,” said the Great Habton trainer.
While Fahey had also been narrowly denied in the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes at Ascot with crack juvenile Garswood, the Malton trainer has another opportunity of hitting the jackpot in Canada on Sunday.
Barefoot Lady, winner of a Group 2 race at Woodbine last month, is set to contest the prestigious EP Taylor Stakes, which carries $1 million in prize money.Can the Flame which burned so brightly at Cheltenham in March do so again at Newmarket on Saturday?
That’s the big question as Ryedale trainer John Quinn aims to pull off a notable double with his most versatile horse this weekend.
Countrywide Flame, who wrote his name into the Cheltenham Festival roll of honour this year when gaining a 20-1 success in the Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle, is set to bid for a major Flat prize at Newmarket on Saturday in the shape of the £160,000 Betfred Cesarewitch Handicap.
“He’d been on the go a long time, so we gave him a good break in the summer and he did really well,” said Quinn after Countrywide Flame had returned to winning form last month at Chester with a pillar-to-post victory over two miles.
That victory cemented the plan to go for the Cesarewitch – one of the most prestigious staying handicaps in Britain – before Countrywide Flame resumes his jumping career.
Quinn is hoping he can develop into a live Champion Hurdle contender, but there are options. “He stays well on the Flat, so we could look at three miles for him over hurdles, if we need to,” he said. “Take out Big Bucks, who is the best long-distance hurdler we’ve seen for many a year, and the rest of that division is wide open.”
That, though, is in the future. The immediate challenge is two and a quarter miles across the open plains of Newmarket Heath. If Countrywide Flame can do the Cheltenham-Newmarket double, he won’t be the first Ryedale horse to achieve it.
Quinn’s former boss, the late great Jimmy FitzGerald, won the 1990 Cesarewitch with Trainglot, who went on to win the Coral Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival six years later.
Countrywide Flame is attempting the two wins, under different codes, in the same year. It will be a monster feat if he pulls it off.
• It’s York’s finale this weekend, with a two-day weekend meeting highlighted by the Coral Sprint Trophy and Coral Rockingham Stakes on Saturday.
David O’Meara’s in-form Doc Hay, winner of a Listed race at Ascot on Saturday and successful in last month’s Portland Handicap at Doncaster, could line up in the sprint, along with Geoff Oldroyd’s impressive Ayr winner Jamaican Bolt and a host of hardened handicappers trained by Richard Fahey and Tim Easterby, who may run his course winner Royal Rascal in the Rockingham in a bid to gain a Listed win with this smart filly.
• If talent is the most important requirement in a racehorse, toughness comes a close second, and River Dragon lacks nothing in that department as he showed when winning twice within 48 hours last week – on the Flat and over hurdles.
Ridden by Barry McHugh, the Tony Coyle-trained gelding won a two-mile Flat handicap at Newcastle and followed up in a £10,000 two-mile handicap hurdle at Hexham two days later under Jack Quinlan, who steered him to an eight-length victory.
“He’s a grand horse, who likes soft ground and who is as tough as they come,” said Coyle. “We did it once before with him, running twice quick. He finished second at Carlisle one day and then won the next day at Wetherby by 17 lengths, so we knew he could take two races back-to-back.”
The Norton trainer has now given River Dragon his reward. “He’ll just have a little break now and freshen-up,” he added with a smile.
• Tight finishes were the order of the day for the Ryedale fraternity at Ayr last week.
Tony Hamilton gained a short-head success on Richard Fahey’s Ingleby Symphony before failing by a nose in a race on Arctic Feeling, who was pipped on the line by Another Wise Kid, trained at Westow by Paul Midgley.
Malton apprentice Laura Barry also had her photo taken to decide the outcome of the concluding contest, which she won by a short head on Goldmad-chen, trained by Keith Dalgleish.
• All-weather racing at Wolverhampton, often under lights, may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Mick Easterby has no complaints.
Although the veteran Sheriff Hutton trainer is a rare visitor himself to the Dunstall Park track, he enjoys plenty of success there and racked up another three winners last week – the David Simmonson-ridden Iceblast and We’ll Deal Again, partnered by Graham Gibbons, completed a Thursday evening double, while Jimmy Sullivan added another winner at the same venue on Saturday night, courtesy of Fame Again.
The most unusual winner there last week was the Richard Fahey-trained Yeomanoftheguard. Making a belated first appearance of the season, the three-year-old, a tricky customer, unseated Lee Topliss on the way to the start and cantered loose around the course, delaying proceedings in the process.
Once caught, he was reunited with Topliss, loaded into the stalls and duly made all for an 8-1 success.
• Hi George was a winner for Malcolm Jefferson and Harry Haynes at Sedgefield last week, looking every inch a horse who can add to his tally over hurdles in the months ahead.
The gelding is a half-brother to celebrated stable-mate Attaglance, who last season scored at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals for Jefferson and Haynes.
Currently being schooled over fences as he prepares to switch codes, Attaglance is expected to make his eagerly-awaited debut in a novices’ chase in the near future.