Delight for Easterby with Nottingham double sealing seasonal best

Tim Easterby enjoyed a red-letter day at Nottingham as stormed past his previous best of 126 winners in a year with a double on Jockey Club Grassroots Series Finals day.

Matty Too gave the Great Habton trainer his 127th success of 2021 in the Nursery Handicap Final, before Ava Go Joe led home a 1-2-3 for the North Yorkshire stable in the Sprint Handicap Final. Both winners were in the colours of owner Brian Valentine and partner.

Easterby completed an across-the-card treble when Eye Knee (10-1) won at Catterick.

“It’s fantastic. We’ve had a great year and been really lucky. We’ve got a really good team, some nice horses and great owners. It’s been good,” said William Easterby, assistant to his father.

“Art Power was phenomenal the other day and Winter Power was the highlight of the season in the Nunthorpe, but it’s not just about the big winners – having any winner is nice and for the owners.”

Matty Too’s was an appropriate triumph as the two-year-old is by Mattmu, a former stable star with two Group successes and a Great St Wilfrid win to his name.

Like the Easterby team, Matty Too (4-1) has been consistent all year and was always prominent as he swept to a second career victory, by a length and a half from Magic Warrior.

“That was really good and he’s by Mattmu which is great. We bought him as a foal and he’s got a lot of his dad in him, and he enjoyed the ground,” said William Easterby.

“I think a bit of cut in the ground was the main thing that has helped him today and it’s great to have a go at some good money somewhere. We hoped he’d run well.

“Winning one of these races can make a big difference to an owner’s year.”

Ava Go Joe (11-2 favourite) would not be denied as he held his two stablemates at bay by three-quarters of a length and the same in the hands of Duran Fentiman.

“That was really good. You can’t beat that,” said Easterby.

“East Street Revue (third) is an old hero so you’re always hopeful about him, Ava Go Joe improved for cut in the ground and Wade’s Magic (second) has been running well all year. It’s a great result.”

Howzer Black (11-1), trained by Keith Dalgleish, rallied in game fashion for Callum Rodriguez to hold Natchez Trace by a short head in the Jockey Club Grassroots Series Middle Distance Final Handicap.

Rodriquez said: “He’s been in top form all year and keeps coming out and winning.

“He’s so tough and genuine it takes a good one to pass him. When one comes he just sticks his head out and doesn’t let them by.”

Idilico warded off the attentions of Haizmoom to spring a 25-1 surprise in the Stayers’ Handicap Final for trainer Ian Williams and jockey David Egan.

The six-year-old got home by a head with Forever William a neck away in a tight finish to the mile-and-three-quarter contest.

“The race panned out for him today. They went a nice strong gallop and he was able to get cover,” said Egan.

“He was doing his best work at the end and hit the front close to the line. It was a good performance for a horse of his rating to win a race with that prize money.”

Meredif (7-2 favourite) showed the benefit of her experience to run out a ready winner of the SME Graduate Employment EBF Slip Anchor Maiden Stakes.

The Owen Burrows-trained filly bounded clear in the final furlong to beat True Icon by half a length under David Probert.

Burrows said: “She’s a filly we’ve always thought a bit of. It went wrong at Wolverhampton first time, but she showed a bit more promise a couple of months ago here.

“I just felt at home she has been a bit more relaxed the last month and that has helped her strengthen physically. She did that well today.

“We’ll see what mark she gets now, she how she comes out of it and take it from there.”

The Mick Appleby-trained Raasel backed up his win at Goodwood a week ago with a gutsy display to take the Handicap.

James Doyle kept the 4-7 favourite up to his work to beat Not On Your Nellie by three-quarters of a length.

“The plan was always Goodwood and then this if he came out of that race fine,” said Chris Dixon, of owners The Horse Watchers.

“His form in the past has been best when fresh. I think he could be quite a nice sprinter. He’s had a few issues, but if he stays in one piece he could progress quite a bit.”

The two divisions of the EBF Oh So Sharp Maiden Fillies’ Stakes went to the Clive Cox-trained Cape Diver (12-1) and Ed Dunlop’s Hanaady (22-1) respectively.

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