His two horses came into the race with seemingly very different chances. Mirrored had won first time out in both 2009 and 2011, so was clearly likely to be well tuned. Indeed, all three of the gelding’s three wins (from 30 runs) had come in the early part of the season. And as last year’s opener was over a very similar distance, and the horse was just two pounds higher in the weights, his 9/1 starting price was very reasonable.
In contrast, Deauville Flyer looked to need further. He had previously won at distance from 12 furlongs up to two miles, so yesterday’s shorter race would seem to have been primarily about blowing off the cobwebs. Odds of 20/1 showed what the market thought of his chances.
A strong early pace made this more of a stamina test than many 10 furlong races, and it was this that helped Deauville Flyer in particular. Both horses were at the back of the field throughout the first mile, and it was only in the straight that jockeys Graham Gibbons and Duran Fentiman got to work. So tight was the finish that it took the judge over two minutes to decide the two horses could not be separated.
Whilst Easterby said that he thought both his horses might need the run, he can’t have been totally surprised to have the winner. But both of them? As he said afterwards on his website, “That has to be a one off!”