Zeeband impresses with Northumberland Vase victory for Roger Varian

Zeeband powered clear of his rivals in the William Hill Pick Your Places Northumberland Vase at Newcastle.

Third on his comeback run over a mile and three-quarters at Newmarket last month, Roger Varian’s charge was a 4-1 shot as he stepped up to two miles for the first time in the £75,000 consolation race for the Northumberland Plate.

Always travelling well in a first-time visor, Zeeband moved onto the heels of the leaders under a motionless Andrea Atzeni on the far side of the track before readily extending two and a half lengths clear of Margaret Dumont.

“He’d won over a mile and six (furlongs) and his comeback run at Newmarket was quite nice,” said Atzeni.

“He’s obviously improved since then, he worked with a set of visors on last week and Roger was quite confident this morning.

“The draw is obviously a big help here, but the way he won you’d think he could have won from any draw.”

Ejtilaab followed up success on Derby day at Epsom with a dominant display in the Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap.

Three weeks on from a narrow verdict on the Downs, the Ian Williams-trained sprinter was the 9-2 favourite to add to his tally at Gosforth Park under David Egan.

Having bagged the near side rail early, Ejtilaab looked to have his rivals covered from a long way out and was two and a half lengths clear of nearest pursuer Mondammej at the line.

The winner is entered in both the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket and the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood next month, and Williams said: “He’ll go for one or the other – it’s nice to have options like that.

“It was a cracking performance. The drop to six furlongs has really helped him improve on his previous form over seven.”

Catch Cunningham came out on top in a thrilling climax to the opening William Hill Play Responsibly/EBF Novice Stakes.

Catch Cunningham (second left) won the opener on Northumberland Plate day
Catch Cunningham (second left) won the opener on Northumberland Plate day (Tim Goode/PA)

Sixth on his debut at York before finishing third at Haydock a fortnight ago, the Kodiac colt was a 9-1 shot to make it third time lucky in the hands of Tom Eaves.

There was not much to choose between Kevin Ryan’s juvenile and Secret Strength passing the post, but the judge had confirmed Catch Cunningham had won the day by a short head.

Ryan said: “It didn’t work out the way we’d planned. We’d intended taking a lead, but he jumped well and nobody else wanted it, so we had to revert to plan B.

“It (making the running) is hard to do here, but he’s game and genuine.

“He’ll be a better horse in a better race being dropped in.”

Spectators during William Hill Northumberland Plate Day at Newcastle
Spectators during William Hill Northumberland Plate Day at Newcastle (Tim Goode/PA)

James Fanshawe and David Probert teamed up to claim top honours in the William Hill Build Your Odds Handicap, with the impressive Second Slip (11-4) skipping almost five lengths clear of 9-4 favourite Hasty Sailor.

Having earlier landed the Group Three Chipchase Stakes with Chil Chil, trainer Andrew Balding completed a double on the card with Oo De Lally edging out Sunset Breeze by a short head in the William Hill Extra Place Races Handicap.

Winning jockey David Probert said: “Andrew’s horses are in great form and we knew this horse handled the track.

“Will Carver gave him a great ride at Goodwood the last day to finish second, so he was probably in the form of his life really going into today.

“Things never really went my way. We got stopped a bit coming out of the gates and then late on we got a bit of bump off the second, so it was a tough performance and he probably deserves to win a race like this.”