Simon and Ed Crisford’s Without A Fight may have booked his ticket to Australia with a business-like success in the John Smith’s Silver Cup at York.
The five-year-old gelding was a 10-11 chance for the Group Three event, which attracted only three runners with Ed Dunlop’s John Leeper and Mark and Charlie Johnston’s Thunderous the other participants.
Over a mile and six furlongs it was the Crisford-trained runner who prevailed, leaving behind Thunderous and shaking off John Leeper to triumph by three and half lengths under Andrea Atzeni.
Now thoroughly proven at the trip after a prior York success over course and distance, a trip to Flemington for the Melbourne Cup will be the big aim for the bay.
“He’s an improving five-year-old, we wanted to try him over this trip and we did it a few weeks back when he won the Listed race (Grand Cup Stakes) here,” said Ed Crisford.
“It opens up a lot of doors. Today there wasn’t much pace, we thought the Johnston horse was going to go forward but he just really settled today.
“He’s done everything the right way, it was a straightforward win.
“I think at the end of the year we’ll go for the Melbourne Cup and take him down to Australia, he’ll have a summer break, run in September and then probably go there.
“It’s very exciting, to have a horse like this in the stable is great.”
Karl Burke’s Eilean Dubh continued on an upward trajectory when winning the John Smith’s Racing Handicap at 4-1 under Clifford Lee.
The four-year-old is in the middle of his first season with Burke having previously been trained in France and has done little other than improve since arriving in Yorkshire.
A winner over course and distance on the Knavesmire in May, the Vadamos colt was then stepped down to six furlongs when chasing the Sunday Series bonus pot at Pontefract, a race in which he finished 11th.
Back has his optimum trip he was a winner again, striding to a half-length success ahead of David O’Meara’s Blue For You.
“He’s a tough horse, he turns up every time,” said Burke.
“The last time we ran him we were chasing the £100,000 bonus on the Sunday Series (for the first horse to win three races in the series), that’s why we ran him over six because it was the last race to run him in.
“I can’t comment on what they were doing with him in France but since he’s arrived he’s just physically improved and everything’s gone right for him. He’s so versatile with trip and ground.
“We’ll see what the handicapper does on Tuesday, he’s in at Goodwood and I’d imagine he’d go for one of the big handicaps there.”
Richard Spencer’s Danni California opened up future long-distance options when claiming the two-and-a-half-mile John Smith’s Staying Handicap.
The grey was the 100-30 favourite after a five-length win on seasonal debut and a narrow defeat at Thirsk when last seen.
At York the filly was slowly away and raced at the rear of the field for much of the race, but when Danny Tudhope asked her to move up a gear she strode clear to succeed by three-quarters of a length.
“It was a step up in trip today from when she won at Wetherby, another two furlongs, but she’s done it well and that was a good ride from Danny,” said Spencer.
“If the handicapper doesn’t hammer her there are a couple of good Sunday Series pots she could go for, it gives us more options now she stays two miles and she’s clearly progressed.”