THE curtain came down on a fabulous four days at York last Saturday with the Ebor itself and it didn’t disappoint as five pound claimer Louis Steward enjoyed the biggest win of his career on Mutual Regard.
Trained by former top jockey Johnny Murtagh, the trainer confessed he’d never heard of Steward, whose booking was the decision of owner Andrew Tinkler, but the former legend of the saddle now holds the apprentice in the highest regard after he managed to achieve something Murtagh never did in his illustrious career and win the £265,000 handicap.
“I didn’t know who he was”
said a delighted Murtagh. “Our apprentice was banned and Andrew Tinkler is a man that’s hot on his stats and he said that Louis was the man to ride.
“I was close with Royal Diamond but this is a good horse. I was nearly going to run him in the Lonsdale Cup [on Friday], but we went for this instead and it has worked a treat.”
Tinkler bought the five-yearold for 60,000 guineas at the Tattersalls horses in training sale last October from Sir Mark Prescott, who trained the 9-2 favourite Pallasator to finish fourth from off the pace.
Cesarewitch sponsors Betfred have made Pallasator their clear 10-1 favourite.
Steward was always prominent on the Hernando gelding and turning for home he was travelling all over his rivals.
Patience has been a running theme in the saddle at York this week and Steward became the latest rider to bide his time, cajoling his mount for as long as possible before getting after him and in the final furlong the pair pulled a length and a quarter clear of 14-1 shot Van Percy, with Mick Channon’s Elidor third at 20-1, the same price as the winner.
Further south, trainer Mark Johnston also enjoyed a fine afternoon, as he saddled a double including a Group two success with Bow Creek under Joe Fanning.
Speaking afterwards, Johnston said: “Joe is on the top of his form, but we came here thinking Bow Creek had a great chance and he’s gone and done it. He’s a good horse who deserved his day and Joe said if he hadn’t done that goodness knows how far he would have won.”
The Middleham handler had earlier saddled Almargo to win a very valuable handicap under Royston Ffrench, who was on hand, saying: “The key was getting his ground and getting out in front. He was always going to be hard to pass.”
Back to the Yorkshire racing, as Beverley raced on Sunday and Ann Duffield was on the mark in the concluding handicap with Paddy’s Rock.
Duffield was on hand, saying: “He doesn’t help himself early on on his races, but he appreciated this trip and will probably stay further. PJ (McDonald) gave him a great ride.
Next day, at Ripon, Duffield and McDonald teamed up again, this time with Black Pudding in the seller.
The final race at Ripon was an amateur riders event and it produced a cracking finish with Graceful Act getting up close home under a very polished ride from Philip Dennis who is an amateur in name only.
Winning trainer Ron Barr was on hand, saying: “She’s been a bit disappointing, but she’s a grand, big mare and she got a good ride.”
A special mention must go to Middleham trainer Ben Haslam, whose last four runners have all come home in front, the latest being Ever So Much who was successful at Sedgefield on Tuesday evening.
Owned by JP McManus, the winner was ridden by AP Mc- Coy and appeals as the type to win again.
There is a really good card at Beverley tomorrow and veteran sprinter Kingsgate Native will bid to get off the mark of the campaign in the Betfred Beverley Bullet.
Winner of the Nunthorpe in 2007, and the Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot the following year, Kingsgate Native is in the twilight of his career as a nineyear- old, but has run consistently well in defeat for trainer Robert Cowell this season.
His latest effort, when eighth in the King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, was perhaps his most disappointing run of the year, but Cowell believes he will be better suited by the tougher test presented by Beverley.