Tag Archive for: York

York seeks to rename Duke of York Stakes to distance from Andrew

York Racecourse is to rename the Duke of York Stakes in a bid to distance itself from the Queen’s controversial second son.

Even though the prestigious six-furlong sprint was named after another Duke of York – Prince George, Duke of York who became King George V – officials at the course are to attempt to make its history clearer.

Andrew has been stripped of his honorary military titles by his mother and has stopped using his HRH style as he faces a civil sexual assault case.

Calls have also been made for Andrew to lose his York dukedom, which was given to him by his mother on his wedding day in 1986.

York’s head of marketing and sponsorship, James Brennan, said: “In the current news cycle, it has made the name a distraction.

“At the current time, what we want to do is stress its history and that it was in honour of the Duke of York who became King George V from 1898.

“So, any connection to Prince Andrew is through the title and it wasn’t named in any shape or form for him – it has been run as a Pattern race since 1971 and he did not become Duke of York until 1986.”

The Duke of York Stakes has been run as a six-furlong conditions event since 1968 and was promoted to Group Two status in 2003. The race was won last year by Starman, who went on to be crowned champion sprinter.

“It is something we have gone around the houses with a bit, because it is a recognised name and the whole point of Pattern races is that the name can be tracked down through the equine generations by bloodstock agents, trainers, racegoers etc,” Brennan added.

“You change a Pattern name with caution.

“But what we wanted to do, so the race could be left to be ‘the race’ and so we can talk about the next generations of Starmans and those sorts – rather than obsessing about the title in the current climate – was the proposal to the Pattern Committee to clarify its history and the man that it honours by just inserting an ‘1895’ prefix.

“The application will go for the 1895 Duke Of York Stakes and I wouldn’t want to second-guess the European Pattern Committee, but it would seem a reasonably straightforward request, you’d have hoped.”

Andrew was appointed the racecourse’s first patron in 2015, but gave up the position in 2019 after stepping down from public duties following his disastrous appearance on Newsnight.

Virginia Giuffre is suing the duke in the US for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager.

She claims she was trafficked by the duke’s friend, convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, to have sex with Andrew when she was 17 and a minor under US law.

The duke has strenuously denied the allegations.

Roger Teal fizzing with anticipation over Oxted return this year

Roger Teal is hoping his hand will heal in time to pop a few corks this summer – and get out of the doghouse with his wife – after suffering an accident over Christmas.

“I’m just off to the doctors to get the stitches out of my hand. On Christmas Day, I fell onto a glass candle and made a bit of a mess of my hand,” explained Teal.

“It is driving me mad – and my wife, Sue. I can’t open a bottle of wine, you see.

“I just wave a bandage at her… but I can’t tell you what she said – you can imagine!”

The Lambourn-based Teals hope to put their 2021 injury woes behind them over the next few months, with stable star Oxted back in training after suffering a bone chip problem that prematurely curtailed his season.

After landing the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, Oxted was a close-up third in defence of his July Cup title at Newmarket.

Of the six-year-old son of Mayson, Teal said: “Oxted is back off his holidays and doing a little light exercise at the moment, just tipping away quietly and we will see how he goes over the next couple of months and make a plan.

“He had a bone chip removed after the July Cup. We did a bit more investigating because he hung across the track.

“We knew it was there – it was a floating chip – but we had always monitored it and it has never really been too much of a problem, but when he hung across the track at Newmarket, we had an MRI scan because the X-rays weren’t really showing where it was, and it had moved between the joint, so it was time to take it out.

“He has just had a long recovery – as much time as you can give him – and touch wood, that will give him every chance to have a full recovery.

“He looks amazing. He has come back and he looks like a bull. We are thrilled with the way he looks.

“Obviously his main target will be the July Cup and the King’s Stand again, probably. The Abernant at Newmarket or the Duke Of York that we ran in last year, will be his starting point. It will be either one of those two, I should think.”

Teal appears to have an embarrassment of sprinting riches as he looks ahead to the new Flat season, with Oxted’s four-year-old full-brother, Chipstead, ending the season with three successive victories at Bath.

“Chipstead came good at the back end of last season and the penny finally dropped,” said Teal.

“He had a lot of ability, but his brain didn’t really match his ability.

“But once the penny dropped, he got the hang of it and he came forward and finished the season on a high, winning three in a row, including the Bath Series Final. I went to see him the other day and he looks brilliant as well.”

The 54-year-old expects a big season with four-year-old Dark Angel gelding Whenthedealinsdone, who signed off a progressive three-year-old campaign when beaten two lengths in the Portland Handicap at Doncaster.

Whenthedealinsdone won the World Pool Handicap at Glorious Goodwood under William Buick
Whenthedealinsdone won the World Pool Handicap at Glorious Goodwood under William Buick (John Walton/PA)

Teal added: “We are very excited about him. He had a good season, winning at Glorious Goodwood. It was just unfortunate that the ground went against him in the Portland, but I’m very excited by him.

“Hopefully, he will progress into a Pattern horse this year. He is on a rating of 96 at the moment.

“He was a big three-year-old, probably too big for his own good, size-wise.

“He has just come back from Charlie Vigors’ Hillwood Stud and he looks an absolute picture. He was always a big, rotund horse, but he has filled his frame now – and he and Oxted look like two peas in a pod.”

Top stayer Ocean Wind, who pushed triple Gold Cup hero Stradivarius close in Ascot’s Sagaro Stakes at the end of April, has not been out since finishing third as a hot favourite in the Group Three Henry II Stakes at Sandown in May.

Ocean Wind is a classy stayer
Ocean Wind is a classy stayer (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Teal said: “Ocean Wind has had a nice long break and is due to come in shortly.

“He is doing some light prep work. I’m not sure what we are going to aim at yet. We will wait until the programme book comes out and then we will start making a plan.”

One thing is for sure, Champagne corks look set to pop in the Teal household at some point this summer.

“But right now I’d just settle for being able to open a bottle of wine – just to keep the wife happy,” Teal laughed.

Volatile Analyst bags Coral Sprint Trophy

Volatile Analyst won York’s Coral Sprint Trophy Handicap for Scotland after final-furlong drama on the Knavesmire.

Keith Dalgleish’s gelding started at 11-1 and was returning to the scene of his last triumph, a seven-furlong handicap success in May.

Ridden by Callum Rodriguez, the four-year-old ran prominently and was clear of his rivals approaching the last furlong but began to hang towards the rail and briefly blocked the path taken by Ado McGuinness’ 11-2 favourite Laugh A Minute.

Dalgleish’s runner crossed the line half a length ahead of Laugh A Minute but was subject to a stewards’ enquiry for possible interference.

It was announced, however, that the placings remained unchanged, and Rodriguez said: “He’s obviously a very talented horse.

“He loves soft ground, and it’s nice that he’s got a big pot here today.

“He’s deserved that. He stays seven (furlongs) as well, but he’s clearly got enough speed to come back to the six today.”

Canonized takes Rockingham prize to cap busy campaign

Canonized signed off her busy season with a Listed victory in the Coral Beaten-By-A-Length Free Bet Rockingham Stakes at York.

William Haggas’ filly was last seen finishing a neck runner-up in the Group Three Firth Of Clyde Fillies’ Stakes at Ayr in September, when she was running for the second day in succession, and has gone close in a string of black-type contests throughout her 2021 campaign.

This time she was not for beating, battling up the centre of the track under Tom Marquand to prevail by three-quarters of a length at 7-2 from Witch Hunter.

“She’s a consistent filly and she deserves to have a good race next to her name,” said Marquand, who became York’s leading jockey for the season following the success.

“She had to be very tough there, but of course she went to Ayr on the Friday and the Saturday and justified that when she only just got beat in a Group Three.

“It’s very well deserved – and she’s done well to win because it’s quite testing ground, and she’s not a big filly.”

William Haggas' Canonized
William Haggas’ Canonized (PA)

“I was looking forward to riding her because she’s so consistent, and Mr Haggas loves having a winner at York.”

Bay Bridge returned from a lengthy absence to score an impressive victory in the Play Coral Racing-Super-Series For Free Handicap, for Richard Kingscote and Sir Michael Stoute.

The three-year-old was an easy winner of two early-season contests, taking a novice by five lengths and a handicap by four before a 147-day break during the height of the season.

Starting as the 15-8 favourite despite this spell away from the track, the colt showed he had lost none of his ability when triumphing by half a length on the Knavesmire.

“He’s been progressing very well,” said Kingscote.

“He’s had a bit of a break and he had a nice smooth run round there – that was good, and he’s done absolutely nothing wrong.”

Oh Herberts Reign made a winning handicap debut when taking the Watch Racing Free Online At Coral Nursery Handicap for Dane O’Neill and Richard Hannon.

The Acclamation colt was a novice winner earlier in the season but was well beaten when 10th in the Weatherbys Scientific £200,000 2-Y-O Stakes at Doncaster.

This step up to a mile saw him triumph at 16-1, crossing the line two and a quarter lengths ahead of Caio Shark.

Richard Fahey’s Blenheim Boy was then announced the winner of the Coral ebfstallions.com Novice Stakes following a photo finish.

Starting at 25-1 under Tony Hamilton, the Churchill colt ran keenly and was eventually able to hunt down The Cookstown Cafu and get the better of the long-time leader by just a short head on the line.

Fergal O’Brien’s Gumball produced a winning Flat performance when taking the Coral Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap as 9-4 favourite under Hollie Doyle.

The grey gelding is better known for his jumps exploits and was previously trained to Graded level by Philip Hobbs before joining O’Brien.

Partnered by Doyle, the seven-year-old was given a bold, front-running ride and held off a challenge from Buriram to ultimately triumph by a head.

Gumball after his York success
Gumball after his York success (PA)

“It was a great training performance there from Fergal,” said Doyle.

“He settled beautifully, he had it easy enough on the front end – and he went through the gears nicely.

“He had to dig deep that last furlong or so. I thought I might just have got pipped on the line, but he was very tough when he needed to be.

“I love riding these old stayers. He’s such a gentleman of a horse.”

Doyle then sealed a double when Something Enticing took the concluding race of York’s 2012 season, the Coral Proud Sponsors Of British Racing Finale Handicap, aboard 9-1 chance Something Enticing for David Elsworth.

Ambassador highlights York treble for Tom Marquand

Tom Marquand took the riding honours at York with a 40-1 treble highlighted by the success of Great Ambassador in the Biowavego Garrowby Stakes.

The four-year-old took the step up to Listed company in his stride as he gave both Marquand and trainer Ed Walker back-to-back victories in the six-furlong event.

They struck with subsequent July Cup hero Starman 12 months ago and Great Ambassador repeated the trick in good style.

Third in the Stewards’ Cup and winner of a Newmarket handicap on his last two starts, the Exceed And Excel gelding took full advantage of this opportunity in a higher grade against three rivals.

Great Ambassador tracked the leader Gulliver in the early stages before Fivethousandtoone took it up. Leading in the final furlong, Great Ambassador (11-10 favourite) kicked away to hold main market rival Tabdeed by a length and a half.

“I was most impressed by the way he jumped into the race a furlong and half out and put it to bed. He didn’t do an awful lot in front but he seems to be thriving at the moment and Ed has got him in great order,” said Marquand.

“Hopefully he can carry on with his improved form and go on from today.”

It was a double for Walker and Marquand after the victory of Kindness (13-2) in the opening IRE Incentive, It Pays To Buy Irish EBF Novice Stakes.

The No Nay Never filly, wearing the Starman colours of owner David Ward, made it third time lucky when beating Buckshaw Village by half a length.

“It was great for the owners to have a home-bred winner at York,” said Marquand.

“It was a tough day yesterday with Starman beaten in a Group One. I was over the moon with the run but you’ve got that element of heartbreak as well. It’s the nature of the game and they’re super people to ride for.

“They both turned up today and had smiles on their face, happy to be there. It makes the job so easy. It’s always a pleasure riding a winner.”

Marquand went on to complete his treble on the William Haggas-trained Aramaic in the Hanson Springs Handicap.

The three-year-old colt, making his handicap debut on his fourth start, looks to have a bright future after he swept to an emphatic success over seasoned campaigner Pivoine by three and a quarter lengths.

“He’s a lovely horse. I rode him first time and then on his reappearance after a long time off at Kempton. He’s progressed really nicely,” Marquand added.

“He won at Musselburgh and today was a big step up and an extra furlong as well, but he’s shaping into a really nice horse. It’s great to ride for Sheikh Isa who is heavily involved in my sponsors, Bahrain’s Rashid Equestrian and Horseracing Club, so it’s nice to have a winner for them.”

Tabdeed bidding to return to winning ways at York

Owen Burrows hopes he has found Tabdeed a good opportunity to land his first success of the season in the Biowavego Garrowby Stakes at York on Sunday.

The Lambourn trainer admitted being a little disappointed with Tabdeed’s effort in the Hopeful Stakes at Newmarket last weekend, when he was second to Summerghand.

He is turning out the six-year-old again quickly as he appears to have taken that race well and only has three rivals in the Listed contest.

“I was a little bit disappointed with him at Newmarket. He didn’t run bad, but I didn’t think he travelled like he normally does. Whether that was the undulations of the track, I don’t know. The ground was a bit loose,” said Burrows.

“He’s a six-year-old now and he’s come out of that race well. When we had to enter it was a speculative one. As the week has gone on, I’ve been pleased with him and it’s cut up to a four-runner race.

“He’s not getting any younger, but he if can run to his Hackwood form, when he was just beaten, then he’d have to go very close.

“For a horse like him there aren’t many options at this time of year. You’ve got the Bengough (at Ascot) at the beginning of October so he would only stand in his box for a month.

“He’s a six-year-old gelding and this year, touch wood, he’s been easier to train, so it’s fingers crossed.”

Tabdeed is 6lb clear on ratings, with David O’Meara’s course specialist Gulliver second-best after only going down by a neck to Commanche Falls in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood. The Ed Walker-trained Great Ambassador was third in the Stewards’ Cup and has won since.

Andrew Balding’s three-year-old Fivethousandtoone completes the quartet.

Breeders’ Cup target for Golden Pal after York disappointment

Wesley Ward is targeting Breeders’ Cup redemption for Golden Pal following his disappointing performance in the Nunthorpe at York.

So impressive when winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Keeneland last year, the Uncle Mo colt’s return to action was delayed by an early-season setback.

But having made a sensational reappearance at Saratoga in July, hopes were high that Golden Pal could provide his American trainer with a first Nunthorpe success, having seen both Acapulco and Lady Aurelia finish second in the Group One contest.

However, while Golden Pal displayed blistering early speed on the Knavesmire, he ultimately weakened out of contention tamely.

“He came home safe and sound and is back here training at Keeneland like he never left,” said Ward.

“Every trainer is different, but historically for me, when I bring a horse back from a long lay-off and they run a big race like he did at Saratoga, they need a little bit more time before they run again.

“I knew how important the Nunthorpe was to the Coolmore team for his stallion career, as opposed to the Flying Five (at the Curragh in September), so I factored that in and there was no real reason not to run, with the exception of the time factor.

“Every horse is different and this horse trained beautiful going into it and came out of the race beautiful, so I think it was just a question of it kind of zapped him from the inside, that first big race he had (at Saratoga).”

Wesley Ward is keeping the faith in Golden Pal
Wesley Ward is keeping the faith in Golden Pal (Julian Herbert/PA)

Golden Pal is likely to have one more run before bidding for back-to-back Breeders’ Cup wins at Del Mar in November.

Ward added: “We’ll make a decision on whether we run him in the Woodford here at Keeneland (October 9) and then aim for the Breeders’ Cup – I think that will be the plan.

“Hopefully he can run right here on his home track and he’ll bounce forward right into the Breeders’ Cup and show what he is.”

Morrison mulling the possibilities for Ebor second Quickthorn

Hughie Morrison will ponder the options for his brave Ebor runner-up Quickthorn.

The Royal Ascot winner hit the front a long way from home, only to be headed in the closing stages by eventual winner Sonnyboyliston before battling back near the line.

He was eventually beaten just a head, but Morrison cites a lack of suitable options for the rest of the season.

“He’s well, he moved well this morning which is encouraging as he obviously put a lot into it,” said Morrison.

“Maybe with a bit more experience – who knows, it was only his eighth race and he’d never been in one like that before.

“As he gets bigger and stronger, which he should do as he’s got a big frame to fill, he will improve enough next year to compete in all the decent races over a mile and six (furlongs) and two miles.

“The handicapper can’t hammer him, otherwise they’d have to put the winner up to a Group One-type mark.

“The winner ran in the same race as us at York before the Ebor and he got dropped 1lb for a below-par run but we didn’t. That’s life.

“At the beginning of the week we didn’t think we’d get in the race or get our ground and then during the race I thought he’d get swallowed up but he didn’t, he galloped on.

“I’m going to have to think what to do next as handicaps are probably out. While I wouldn’t say I’d fancy his chances, if the entries for Champions Day hadn’t closed so early I’d have put him in that.

“We might have a look at options in France. Two miles might be too far for him, but I’m trying to think what else to do. Either way he’s an exciting horse for the future.”

York chief Derby delighted with four brilliant days on the Knavesmire

York chief executive William Derby reflected on a memorable Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival which saw capacity crowds back to enjoy top-class action on the Knavesmire.

Like every other racecourse, York was hit hard by the pandemic and has been grateful to see the lifting of restrictions.

With attendances building towards the end of the week, Ebor day itself was sold out on the stands’ side of the track, and Derby and his team were able to look back on a job well done – despite the weather taking a turn for the worse on Saturday.

Derby said: “We saw some brilliant action on the track, highlighted by the three Group Ones with world-class performances by the winners – Mishriff, Snowfall and Winter Power.

Mishriff thrilled the crowds at York on Wednesday
Mishriff thrilled the crowds at York on Wednesday (Nigel Ffrench/PA)

“They were special, each in their own right with their own story, plus the magic of Stradivarius on Friday winning an amazing race in the home straight.

“And also Battaash coming to parade (before the Nunthorpe). We were hugely grateful to Sheikha Hissa (Hamdan Al Maktoum). We wrote to her asking and she kindly agreed. Jim Crowley wore a jockey cam and you can see that on our Twitter feed. The packed crowd thoroughly enjoyed it.

“Winter Power for a local yard – she’d won here twice before. She’s a real local favourite taking on the best in the world in terms of Golden Pal and Suesa.

“And for Silvestre de Sousa, who was based at Thirsk, to win for King Power who’ve had such an amazing season and won the John Smith’s Cup with Johnny Drama. It was great.

“We’ve had some fantastic racing, Mark Johnston winning the Tattersalls Acomb was another one for a Yorkshire stable.”

Winter Power was dazzling quick in the Nunthorpe
Winter Power was dazzling quick in the Nunthorpe (Nigel French/AP)

He added: “We’ve been really encouraged by the response of the crowd to racing – the feeling of people being back and relieved to get back to live sporting events.

“This is the first time we’ve reached our capacity on the stands’ side for Ebor day.

“Real World gave us a great start to Saturday winning the Strensall Stakes and Sonnyboyliston winning the Ebor for Johnny Murtagh was fantastic.

“The crowd figures are there or thereabouts to our 2019 level. We had a record for a Friday at the Ebor Festival. Hopefully encouraged by Stradivarius, Battaash and an amazing Coolmore Nunthorpe.”

Sonnyboyliston grabs Ebor verdict for Murtagh

Sonnyboyliston hung on to give trainer Johnny Murtagh a second victory in the Sky Bet Ebor at York.

The handler sent out Mutual Regard to win the handicap feature back in 2014, and Sonnyboyliston (10-1) fended off Quickthorn to once again take the prize back to County Kildare.

Jockey Ben Coen bided his time through the early stages, sitting in mid division while Blue Cup and Humanitarian raced a couple of lengths clear at the head of affairs.

It looked as though Blue Cup had a handy advantage at the top of the straight, but he quickly dropped away, leaving Quickthorn in front.

However, Coen was poised to challenge down the middle of the track – and he edged in front in the final furlong, with 16-1 shot Quickthorn giving his all but eventually falling just short in a photo.

Alounak kept on for third, with Shanroe fourth. Favourites Ilaraab and Mt Leinster both finished down the field in heavy rain on the Knavesmire.

Johnny Murtagh celebrates with the Ebor trophy
Johnny Murtagh celebrates with the Ebor trophy (Nigel French/PA)

Murtagh said: “It’s all the hard work everybody does at home. It’s me knowing the kind of horse it takes to win these races, like when I was riding in them.

“I’m going back to my experience as a jockey. That’s the kind of horse we need for this track or that race.

“The last time he ran here he ran very well, and I liked the way he came home. He came on for that run, and that gave us confidence.

“He’s out of a good staying mare. Fair play to Ben. He was good.”

Sonnyboyliston is entered in the Comer Group International Irish St Leger at the Curragh on September 12, while Murtagh also nominated him for the Melbourne Cup at Flemington on November 2.

An Australian trip has not been ruled out, but Murtagh’s sights are set on the Curragh for now.

He said: “I have him in the Irish St Leger, and we’ll have to think about that first now before we consider Australia.

“Last year when he won (on) Irish Champions weekend over a mile and a quarter, I always thought when he stepped up in distance he’d get better.

Sonnyboyliston and connections at York
Sonnyboyliston and connections at York (Nigel French/PA)

“At the start of the year I thought he might end up in the Ebor. It doesn’t always work out like that, but today it did – by a head.

“He is a pretty good stayer. He has to improve a lot for the Irish St Leger – but he’s probably going to get a hike for that. It’s the next logical step.

“There have been a lot of people looking at him before today, and I’m sure they will be on again after today, but my plan is to go for the Irish St Leger.”

Valley Forges ahead to take Melrose honours

Valley Forge overcame his inexperience to win the Sky Bet Melrose Handicap at York in battling fashion on only his fifth start.

Having his first run in a handicap, the Andrew Balding-trained three-year-old came out on top in a bunch finish to the mile-and-three-quarter test – with the winner guaranteed a place in next year’s Ebor.

That may be 12 months away to the day, but the way Valley Forge (10-1) stayed on well for David Probert to hold Moshaawer by half a length, with Ravenscraig Castle a nose away in third and Dhushan a neck back in fourth, suggests he could turn up for the big one in 2022.

Balding’s wife, Anna Lisa, said: “It’s nice to have a winner for George Strawbridge. Andrew’s father trained for him as well. It’s a pity the owner can’t be here, but I’m sure he cheered him home.

“I think he’s a really exciting horse. He’s good looking, and I’ve just been reminded if you win this you’re in (the Ebor) next year.

“He’ll go home tomorrow, and Andrew will make sure he comes out of the race all right and then make a plan. I’m so pleased.”

Probert said: “We didn’t have the ideal draw in 16. I just wanted him to get a mid-div position without being too far out of his ground.

“I thought with him being slightly inexperienced he might not be able to do that, but he was brave throughout.

“When the race opened up, he found an extra gear – and he was very tough at the line. The second horse gave a run from a furlong out, but my horse picked up well.

“He has a great attitude at home. He’s not the flashiest in the mornings – but when he’s at the races, he’s very professional. He’d probably have the stamina for a Cesarewitch.

“He’s lightly-raced but he might benefit for another year. He’s potentially very nice for next year.”

Valley Forge was cut to 12-1 from 25-1 for the Cesarewitch at Newmarket.

Attagirl (7-2) made amends for a narrow defeat at Newbury eight days earlier when taking the Listed spoils in the Julia Graves Roses Stakes.

The Karl Burke-trained filly stuck on well to beat Caturra by half a length in the hands of Danny Tudhope to compensate for her head defeat by Tardis in the St Hugh’s Stakes.

“A winner at York – you can’t beat it – and a fast time as well,” said Steve Parkin, executive chairman of owners Clipper Logistics.

“We weren’t going to run her, because she ran last week at Newbury and she should have won. She drifted and got chinned on the line.

“Karl said she was bouncing and she is a big filly. I thought she did it very well.

“We’ll get her home and let Karl and the team see how she is. It was important to get black type because we own the mare.

“I haven’t had a drink all week, with sponsoring and having guests here, but we’re having a big party tonight, so I will have a drink. We’ll celebrate tonight.”

Migration (3-1 favourite) gave William Buick a double in the Sky Bet Handicap, following the jockey’s win on Space Blues in the City Of York Stakes.

David Menuisier’s five-year-old was adding to his success at Glorious Goodwood on what was only his third start since returning from 641 days sidelined through injury.

Menuisier said: “When they come out after an injury like he did you always hope they are going to come back to their level.

“When they do that and improve by God knows how much in their next stride it is so special. We do love him. He’s in the Cambridgeshire. He will carry a lot of weight, I suppose – so as we speak, I’m not sure.”

Trainer Michael Dods took the concluding Sky Bet Apprentice Handicap for a fourth time when Blackrod (5-1) finished strongly under Billy Garritty to beat Digital by a neck.

“Fair play to David Armstrong (owner). We had him in at Newmarket last week, and he said ‘is there anything at York’? I said there was only the three-year-old race over five furlongs,” said Dods.

“I said I couldn’t see him being sharp enough for five, especially if we didn’t get any rain. Fair play to him, he said let him take his chance.

“This horse is better over six. But his class has saw him through, and we had the strongest apprentice available.

“This a horse with a massive future. He could be anything in another year.”

Space Blues proves class in City of York

Space Blues made his class tell as he claimed a cosy victory in the Sky Bet City of York Stakes.

A Group One winner last term, Space Blues had claimed a big-money prize in Saudi Arabia earlier in the year – but subsequently disappointed on Dubai World Cup night and was given a break until reappearing at Goodwood.

Fourth on his return, Space Blues had clearly taken a big step forward for the outing and was travelling supremely well with two furlongs to go as early leader Lord Of The Lodge dropped away quickly.

William Buick had to get to work on the Charlie Appleby-trained winner in the final furlong, as stablemate Glorious Journey and the admirable Highfield Princess tried to peg him back, but Space Blues had the required extra in reserve to prevail by a length and a half as the 11-8 favourite.

Highfield Princess just edged out Glorious Journey by a neck for the runner-up spot.

Buick said: “That was ideal for him. He settled well, which he does do now in his races. The loose ground on top was a bit of an unknown. It’s shifting a little bit underneath them.

“He was struggling a bit early on and then when he changed gear and lowered himself, he really found his stride. It was a good performance and in many ways it was what we wanted to see from him.

“He ran so well in the Lennox at Goodwood on very soft ground and the race didn’t work out the way we hoped it would. He came on for that and it was nice to see him do that.

“Six and a half furlongs and seven is his trip. A stiff six on good or softer ground might suit him.

“We’ll see where he goes next but I don’t think we’ll be trying to change too much in distance.

“He might work into a Foret horse on Arc weekend or something like that.”

Real World rules in Strensall Stakes

Real World successfully graduated to Group Three class with an impressive verdict in the Sky Bet And Symphony Group Strensall Stakes at York.

An easy winner of the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot in June, the Saeed bin Suroor-trained colt had followed up with Listed glory at Newbury before switching up another level on the Knavesmire.

Partnered once again by Marco Ghiani, the evens favourite Real World took up a position on the heels of pace-setter El Drama in the nine-furlong heat, racing rather keenly in the early stages.

However, when Ghiani gave the signal with a couple of furlongs to run, Real World really started to engage top gear – and the Godolphin runner stretched clear in style.

Lord Glitters finished with a flourish from the back of the pack – but Real World had flown, coming home a length and a half clear as Ghiani saluted the crowd to celebrate his first Group-race victory.

Bin Suroor said: “He’s been a lovely horse all the time – and after he won at Ascot and at Newbury, we thought we would run him in this race.

“This horse has always looked class in the morning, the way he trains and the way he works. He ran a huge race today, and the jockey is happy with him and was happy to ride him.

“Marco is going to be one of the top jockeys in the future. He tries to copy Frankie (Dettori). That is his aim still, but he has a long way to go. He is good, and I’ve always liked him.

“I saw him ride, and then he came to work me for me in the mornings, and he looks one for the future.”

Real World is an 8-1 shot for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over a mile at Ascot on Champions Day in October, and Bin Suroor confirmed that Group One as his end-of-season aim – although he may have another outing along the way.

He added: “We may take Real World to Newmarket first or to France, but the race for him at the end of the season is the QEII as we speak.

“He’s a nice horse, but he needs to improve more. We took him to Dubai this year, and he was still weak. When he came back here we gave him a chance.

“Every time he runs he has improved, and he is a horse for next year too.”

Super Stradivarius still a staying colossus

Flat racing has many fixed features, the racecourses remain the same, the fixture list changes only slightly, the whole travelling circus moves from track to track in an unchanged order season after season.

But the horses continually flow across the turf and off to stud in a cycle that affords us a relatively brief glimpse of the finest equine athletes before they are tasked with producing the next generation.

Bucking that trend is the beloved chestnut Stradivarius, who is in the thick of his sixth season in training having sportingly been kept in action by owner Bjorn Nielsen.

Stradivarius refused to buckle against Spanish Mission
Stradivarius refused to buckle against Spanish Mission (Nigel French/PA)

Nielsen makes up a third of the trio associated with the seven-year-old, with Frankie Dettori and John Gosden the other principal figures in the Stradivarius corner – though Gosden’s son Thady has recently been added to the Clarehaven licence.

Stradivarius’ career is one that no one has ever found good reason to end, regardless of his age and his status as an entire horse capable of becoming a sire.

He has won four Goodwood Cups, three Gold Cups, two Yorkshire Cups and now three Lonsdale Cups.

He has been beaten by a small margin and has been beaten by a longer margin and he has, without fail, dusted himself off and returned to another parade ring at another racecourse with all of the machismo of an undefeated heavyweight.

His age is not immaterial, however, and a beaten run in the Gold Cup at Ascot caused some to suspect that a changing of the guard may be afoot.

His trip to the Knavesmire, a track on which he is undefeated, was his chance to silence those suggestions and prove that there are pages yet to be turned in the Stradivarius story.

Frankie Dettori salutes the crowd as he returns aboard Stradivarius
Frankie Dettori salutes the crowd as he returns aboard Stradivarius (Nigel French/PA)

The Lonsdale Cup only attracted a field of four, with Trueshan a non-runner after the forecast rained failed to fall and produce his obligatory soft ground.

Two of those contenders were unable to trouble Stradivarius. The Grand Visir went off hard and fast but ultimately faded and Willie Mullins’ Stratum never really looked a danger.

It was Andrew Balding’s Spanish Mission that ensured the small-field affair was no walkover, throwing himself into a neck-and-neck duel with the reigning champion from the two-furlong pole to the winning post.

The naked eye could just identify Stradivarius’ white-striped face dipping across the line ahead of his opponent, and a photo finish then ensured his fist was raised by the judge and he was deemed the victor.

It was the sort of box-office finish every racing fan relishes, it was the last-gasp grit of a horse who seemed intent on proving that not only is his ability still intact, but also that his will to win is not fading in the slightest.

Jubilant scenes at York
Jubilant scenes at York (Nigel French/PA)

Dettori never attempts to conceal his emotions and this victory left the Italian at his most effusive, unsurprising perhaps considering that this partnership has been one of the defining features of the rider’s recent career.

“I just love the horse so much,” he said.

“He (Spanish Mission) passed me, I passed him, he passed me again and then on the line Stradivarius said ‘boom…I’ve won!’.

“He did it all himself, I kept him close to keep him interested as he likes to have a target, but with four runners I always knew what was going to happen.

“I had to play cat and mouse a bit with William (Buick, Spanish Mission) but when it really came down to it, he went again.

“He likes to chase one, we knew where the line was, he stuck out his neck and said ‘I’ve won this, thank you’.”

Gosden was similarly thrilled to see this stalwart of the staying division back to his brilliant best having been drawn into a tussle that required every ounce of his vim.

“Full marks to him, it was a great performance,” he said.

“He still enjoys his training, he’s very enthusiastic – a stronger-run race at his age, so he can come at them, probably suits him better.

“The horse will tell us, it’s not our decision, as long as he’s enjoying his racing and training and he’s very enthusiastic, which he is and he’s a very happy horse, he has a very good sense of humour as well, as long as you’ve got all of that then fine, we keep racing.

“The moment that seems to be fading, that’s when we stop.

“He used to sting like a butterfly and float like a bee, but he’s a little more rope a dope now!”

But the sting in the tail is evidently still present and Gosden’s willingness to discuss future entries suggests the Stradivarius era is not winding to a close just yet.

The Doncaster Cup and the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day at Ascot were both mentioned, races in which his appearance is likely to inspire the same rousing reception he enjoyed on the Knavesmire.

He may be ageing and he cannot rule the division forever, but Stradivarius remains ​the Goliath that nobody wants to see fall at the hands of David.

Euchen Glen chasing more York riches

Jim Goldie is confident the burden of top-weight will not prevent Euchen Glen from putting up a bold bid in the Sky Bet Ebor at York.

A former winner of the John Smith’s Cup on the Knavesmire, the popular veteran returns to the track having enjoyed another tremendous campaign – landing a pair of big-race victories at Sandown with wins in the Brigadier Gerard and Gala Stakes.

The eight-year-old failed to fire in a soft ground Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock a fortnight ago, but while he must carry 10st 2lb and will break from stall one in Saturday’s £500,000 feature, Goldie feels it would be dangerous to leave him out of calculations.

“He’s in grand order,” said the Scottish trainer.

“It’s a mighty task carrying that weight, but Red Rum carried 12st in the Grand National, so big weights can be carried.

“He’s won a John Smith’s Cup, so he obviously acts at York. Some might say being drawn one is a negative, but we’ll be going the shortest road. I would rather be one than 22, anyway.

“We’ve got a good jockey (Paul Mulrennan) who knows him well so it will be interesting.”

Proud Newmarket-based Yorkshireman William Haggas declared four runners in a bid to win the county’s most prestigious handicap for the first time.

Dual course and distance winner Hamish is the trainer’s shortest-priced runner, despite having been off the track since finishing fourth in the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot last summer.

Hamish (near side) winning at York
Hamish (near side) winning at York (Clint Hughes/PA)

The gelding’s involvement depends on significant rainfall, however.

“He needs rain and quite a bit of it, so I don’t know if he’ll get it,” said Haggas.

“We’ll decide about his participation nearer the time, but he’s trained very well.

“He’s a smart horse and we’ve had this in mind for a while, so it would be nice to have a go, but we’ll see.”

Hamish’s stablemate Ilaraab has proven his liking for the York track already, having won there twice to date.

The Ebor represents a step up in trip for the colt, but Haggas is confident that he possesses the stamina necessary to succeed.

“He’s in good shape and he’s ready to go,” the trainer said.

“I think it looks like he’ll get the trip no problem.

“He’s got a lot of weight (9st 11lb), but he’s a good horse and I think he prefers going left-handed, so that will suit him on Saturday.”

Roberto Escobarr is one of two Haggas entrants owned by Hussain Alabbas Lootah, the other being his full-brother Pablo Escobarr.

William Haggas would love to win the Ebor
William Haggas would love to win the Ebor (Nigel French/PA)

“Roberto stays well and likes fast ground. He should run well. He’s a very genuine, game horse,” Haggas added.

“Pablo is Pablo. He ran a good race last weekend (third in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes) and enjoys his racing. He’s here hoping for the best.”

Ireland have a handful of chances to take home the huge prize, one of which is Karl Thornton’s dual-purpose gelding Shanroe.

The bay won his place in the field with victory in the Ebor when winning the Race To The Ebor Handicap at the Curragh in June.

Shanroe winning over hurdles at Fairyhouse
Shanroe winning over hurdles at Fairyhouse (Niall Carson/PA)

Thornton is another trainer praying for rain, saying: “We’ll see what the weather does. His work has been really good and everything seems to be going to plan.

“It’s a case of the more (rain) the better, that will definitely be to his benefit, so hopefully the rain does come now.

“He definitely stays and everything’s gone to plan with him, so we’ll be hoping for a big run.”