William Haggas’ Aldaary made a pleasing comeback to win the Listed Pertemps Network Spring Trophy Stakes in the manner of a top-class horse.
Sent off the 2-5 favourite, he was held up in rear in the early stages, before swooping into contention approaching the final furlong and drawing clear to record a three-and-a-half-length win.
The Territories gelding holds entries for both the Lockinge Stakes and Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, with the four-year-old a three-time winner at the Berkshire track in the handicap ranks last season and a respectable fifth when sent off favourite for the Britannia Handicap at the Royal meeting.
Betfair cut Aldaary into 8-1 for the Queen Anne Stakes and big-race jockey Jim Crowley is hoping he can keep on progressing throughout the summer.
He said: “He was entitled to do that on the ratings, but I think the key to this horse is he has to have cut in the ground and when he gets it he’s a fair horse. The only time he’s really disappointed was on good to firm and he won two big handicaps last year, so hopefully he can progress into Group company.”
There was a shock in the Grade Three Swinton Hurdle as N’golo (28-1) got on the scoresheet for the first time since switching to Ann Duffield.
The seven-year-old was a Grade Three winner over hurdles when trained by Willie Mullins in Ireland, but a second at this track last month is the closest he has come to troubling the judge since being housed in North Yorkshire.
The Leyburn handler is perhaps best known for her exploits on the Flat, but this mixed card was the perfect time for her star jumper to make a statement, pulling six and a half lengths clear of 4-1 favourite Severance at the business end of the race.
Overseeing the Gavin Sheehan-ridden winner’s preparation as Duffield’s assistant has been Paddy Neville – a Grade Three-winning trainer in his own right in Ireland – who is hoping to become joint-trainer alongside Duffield before to long.
“I’m delighted for everyone and it’s a pity Ann didn’t come, she’s got a runner at Thirsk so she’s probably gone there. He’s owned by a syndicate of a few lads from Ireland and Gavin gave him a great ride. We knew coming into this that the horse was in super order and we were hoping for the best.
“I came over from Limerick with a handful of horses and teamed up with Ann, who is looking after us very well and we’re a great team. She’s been very good to us and long may it continue.
“I started in Ireland in 2006 and I’ll either join with Ann on her licence or take my own out. It’s a bit more complicated a process than I thought, but I came over last year and had a few winners so we said we’d stay with a few – there’s more of a variety of races here.”
Fresh from saddling two winners at Chester’s May Festival, Hugo Palmer was in the winner’s enclosure in the north west once again when his Brad The Brief proved much the best in the Pertemps Network Conditions Stakes.
Archie Watson’s front-running Glen Shiel was sent off the 5-4 favourite, but the Group One winner had nothing else to give once Palmer’s five-year-old made his challenge approaching the final furlong.
The son of Dutch Art stormed clear to record a commanding three-and-a-quarter-lengths victory with Glen Shiel second and Final Song claiming the final spot on the podium.