Annual Invictus clings on for Great Yorkshire honours

Chris and Freddie Gordon combined for a memorable family success as the latter’s buccaneering ride aboard Annual Invictus paid off in a pulsating renewal of the SBK Great Yorkshire Chase.

A quality field of 18 runners went to post for the prestigious Doncaster handicap, with Annual Invictus a 16-1 shot under his 18-year-old rider.

The 5lb claimer took the bull by the horns from the off, sending his mount into the lead from flag-fall and setting a gallop that saw many of his rivals struggling a long way from home.

Annual Invictus led those still in contention into the home straight and looked in command until Ben Godfrey arrived late on the scene aboard recent course-and-distance scorer Forward Plan.

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It looked for all the world as though Godfrey had timed his challenge perfectly and supporters of Annual Invictus were set for a heartbreaking last-gasp defeat, but the Gordon runner had other ideas and roared back once challenge to ensure the pair passed the line almost as one.

Following a brief wait, the judge confirmed Annual Invictus had won the day by a nose, with Charlie Uberalles best of the rest in third.

“That was brilliant, I’m thrilled for everyone including the owner Tom (Smith), who is my farrier,” said the winning trainer.

“He’s happier out in front and it’s not very often you can get a soft lead like that. He’s not the quickest horse in the world but he carries on a good gallop.

“I thought the other horse had got us but we scrapped back. It’s lovely and it looks like we’ve turned the corner in the yard.

“It’s very special with my son on board. He’s a conditional with Nicky Henderson and he’s loving it down there.

“My plan was to get him in the Grand National, so I’d like to see him go up. But there are some wonderful staying chases, he stays well and gallops and goes on top of the ground.”

Freddie Gordon said: “That was amazing. My old man said to try to just pop out and go on your own. So I thought I’d go out there and do it.

“When the other horse came to me, I was just hoping he had a bit left in the tank and I think he kept his head in front the whole time. As soon as he gets a bit of company he keeps going, it gives him a bit more encouragement.

“It’s some day. It’s lovely to do it for my dad. I’ll thank him when I get home later, we’ll have a nice dinner together.”

Godfrey was disappointed to beaten aboard Forward Plan, but not with his partner’s performance.

He said: “My lad has lost nothing in defeat and has ran a cracker.

“I thought the other horse was going to drop back, I was staying on and was trying to save every bit I could. I thought I’d got my head in front and thought I’d got my timings bang-on, but the other horse has battled back hard and just got up on the line.

“My lad has lost nothing in defeat, but seconds don’t quite count as winners, do they? He’s in the form of his life and he’s a very fun horse to go to war with in these type of races.”

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