Flotus bounced back to form with an impressive victory in the Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Ripon Champion Two Yrs Old Trophy Stakes.
Joint-trainers Simon and Ed Crisford were winning the Bank Holiday feature at the North Yorkshire course for the second year in succession – while Silvestre de Sousa was back on board for the first time since Flotus was an equally emphatic winner on her debut at Goodwood in May.
The daughter of Starspangledbanner had been partnered by Frankie Dettori and then James Doyle in the intervening months, but finished well beaten on all three starts at up to Group Two company.
De Sousa tracked across from an awkward draw in stall two this time, claiming the stands rail and forging ever further clear to win at 6-1 – by four and a half lengths from the consistent Hellomydarlin.
After her second career victory, Flotus was halved in price by Betfair into 8-1 for the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes over this same six-furlong trip at Newmarket at the end of next month
The key, De Sousa suspects, is to allow her to have her own way and demonstrate her natural speed throughout.
“I think perhaps they’ve probably been trying to ride a race on her, and she’s very ‘on’ and (just) wants to get on with the job,” he said.
“I think it maybe suits her to not complicate things. I just let her be where she wanted to be.
“She’s a really talented filly, and when I won on her first time I really liked her.
“But not every story is a fairytale – so I lost the ride.”
De Sousa was understandably all smiles after renewing the partnership successfully, and extending his 100 per cent record on Flotus.
“I’m glad I’m back on her,” he added.
“She’s a typical sprinter, just likes to get on with the job, and I didn’t complicate things today.
“Drawn two is never ideal (here), especially with speedy horses on your left.
“But she jumped smart, she travelled and she quickened (again) when I wanted her to.
“From halfway, I thought I was a winner.”
Garden Oasis was a brave winner of the Ripon Rowels Handicap as he overcame an over-reach in the final furlong to beat Kettle Hill by a nose in a thrilling tussle to the line.
Tim Easterby’s course specialist was following up his Ripon victory two weeks ago, and also accounting for the runner-up for a second time after a head separated them at York last month.
David Allan challenged two furlongs out this time – and despite sensing the 9-1 shot was in slight discomfort, he was able to eke out the required response to just get the better of William Haggas’ favourite again.
Easterby said: “He’s a wonderful little horse – he really tries his heart out, and he loves it round here.
“The ridges (at this course) and all that don’t bother him.”
Garden Oasis proved himself full of heart as he ran through the pain barrier.
“He struck into the bulb of his heel before the half-furlong pole,” added Easterby.
“Dave said he felt him falter, and thought he’d pulled a shoe off, and it was quite sore when he came in.
“But he’s fine, he’s sound.
“He loves this track, just acts here. That’s a good horse, the second – but he’s really tough and genuine and did really well to win (after over-reaching).”
Tom Marquand had to settle for second once more on Kettle Hill, but senses the four-year-old is still improving – and he did not have to wait long for a winner anyway on his trip north, taking the Examworks UK Supporting Wooden Spoon Maiden Stakes on Haggas’ 6-4 joint-favourite Pride Of Priory.
Marquand said of Kettle Hill: “It’s disappointing he didn’t win. He ran a superb race up at York last time, and I thought today would be his day.
“But he had earplugs in, and sometimes it can be a little bit of a lag when you go for them, with them on – and I think, while it helped him relax, it’s probably undone him in the last half-furlong.
“Without a doubt, he’s still improving. We’re still learning plenty about him on the way through, and there’ll be plenty more to come.
“You have to come, whether they’re winners or not. It was a solid run in defeat, and he’s a really nice horse to go forward with.”
As for Pride Of Priory, he added: “This chap, I hope this is the start of his forward progression.
“He’s had a couple of runs on the all-weather, bumping into some speedy types – and he’s not speedy, he’s a lovely galloping horse – so I hope today’s experience will him a lot of good.”