Stars reigns in Pontefract Castle test

River Of Stars survived a late challenge from Ching Shih to secure Listed honours in the Pontefract Castle Fillies’ Stakes on Sunday.

Winner of the Group Three Bronte Cup last year, Ralph Beckett’s five-year-old was a consistent performer in some hot events during 2023, but had to settle for third when returned to the Knavesmire for her reappearance and defence of her crown.

Dropped back to a mile and a half for this Pontefract assignment, William Buick was always towards the head of proceedings aboard the daughter of Sea The Stars.

Asked to go and win her race entering the home straight, River Of Stars looked to have victory sealed having beaten off Rae Guest’s eventual third Divina Grace.

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However, with the winning post looming, David Simcock’s Ching Shih came motoring home, with River Of Stars eventually holding on by a nose.

“It was a very good spot for her and a good opportunity to gain some more black type and to win one, it’s very important for these fillies,” Buick told Racing TV.

“Ralph was wanting me to ride her forward which was what I did and she got into a nice rhythm. She stays this trip well and a bit further, which is always a help.

“I wasn’t sure (if I had held on), I was hoping we had our head down. I haven’t checked the photo finish, but she deserved that so I am glad she didn’t get beat.”

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