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Spice too hot for Pontefract rivals

Plenty of water has passed under the bridge since Dash Of Spice triumphed at Royal Ascot in 2018 but he finally returned to winning ways in the Mary Clark “Favourite Day Of The Year” Handicap at Pontefract.

Trained by David Elsworth in those days, he only raced once more that season when the beaten 3-1 favourite in the John Smith’s Cup won by Euchen Glen.

He picked up an injury there which kept him off the track for two full seasons and when he returned to action last year he looked a light of his former self.

Picked up for a relatively paltry £29,000 at the sales by the Ontoawinner syndicate and partners and sent to Adrian Keatley, he has had four runs for new connections, with a second at Pontefract in June his best effort.

Off a mark of 87, down from a high of 104, he was able to dictate under Tom Marquand and won by three lengths from Possible Man.

“It worked out perfect for him today. They left him alone in front and he’s got a lot of class this horse,” said Keatley.

“Hopefully there’s another one or two similar races like that in him this season and then we’ll put him away and hope for another good season next year with him.

“Tom has been lucky for us. It’s nothing against the other jocks, you can only ride what’s under you, but Tom used to ride him for his previous trainer Mr Elsworth and was very complimentary about him after.

“I’ve nothing immediately in mind for him, there might be something at the big Ayr meeting. I’ll speak with the owners but I wouldn’t be keen on over-racing him this season.”

David O’Meara’s Forced Entry had shown precious little in two starts to date but looked a different proposition in the Trevor Woods Memorial British EBF Novice Stakes.

Well beaten at both Carlisle and Lingfield, he looked much more professional on this occasion and was a cosy winner.

Forced Entry (grey) sees off all challengers
Forced Entry (grey) sees off all challengers (Tim Goode/PA)

Jason Watson, stepping in for Danny Tudhope who was riding in America on Saturday evening, always had the 7-1 chance in the box seat just on the outside of Where’s Diana and he quickened up to win by half a length.

Odds-on favourite Bloomington Bride got going too late and was just behind in third.

“I think he enjoyed the track, it’s quite a quirky place going up and down and I think he learned a lot in his last race at Lingfield,” said Watson.

“He’s got ability, I think he’s just been a bit too green to show it and he stayed on gamely today. But to be fair it probably was a bit of a surprise – a welcome one.”

Kevin Stott has enjoyed a good weekend as fresh from a double at Ripon, which included the Great St Wilfrid on Justanotherbottle, he teamed up with Sir Michael Stoute’s Duty Of Care for another winner.

A half-brother to Breeders’ Cup winner Expert Eye, he disappointed at Chelmsford last time out and got back on the winning trail.

The 2-1 joint-favourite did not have much in hand over fellow Newmarket raider, William Haggas’ Ready To Venture, but came out on top in a photo.

Stott said: “He’s a lovely, big horse and he’s done that really well. I’d say he wants further. He’ll get a mile and a half no problem.”

The Fergal O’Brien-trained Teqany (7-2) was second in the Elite Hurdle to Sceau Royal in November but since then has run exclusively on the Flat.

A winner at Chepstow last time out, his first success on the Flat, he made all once more for Dougie Costello.

O’Brien’s partner and assistant Sally Randell said: “He’s such a legend, we’ve had him three years and he’s never been out of the first four.

“He just loves winning, so while it was hard work last time, I did say to Dougie that he might have an easier ride this time because since Chepstow he’s been wild!

“His hurdle mark is so high that we thought going on the Flat was the obvious thing. Hopefully the handicapper doesn’t go mad.”

O’Meara doubled up when Alpha Cru (7-5 favourite) made most of the running under David Nolan in the Happy Retirement Mick Henshaw Novice Stakes.

“She’s done it nicely. We only got her a couple of months ago and she won a novice here and clearly improved for that. We’ll see what the handicapper does,” said O’Meara.