THE pre-race enthusiasm of trainer David Griffiths was more than vindicated when stable star Take Cover made every yard of the running to land Saturday’s big sprint at Newbury.
The Bawtry trainer had told The Yorkshire Post that the 10-year-old sprinter had not had his ideal fast ground conditions all season despite victory in the Beverley Bullet this month.
Reunited with regular rider David Allan, Take Cover’s blistering ‘catch me if you can’ approach paid off with a scintillating win in the Group Three Dubai International Airport World Trophy Stakes in a time just 0.3secs outside the five-furlong course record at the Berkshire track.
“Better than ever,” declared an elated Griffiths in the post-race winner’s enclosure after his stable’s 19th win of the season to equal the yard’s previous best tally of triumphs.
Take Cover has won 13 of his 40 starts and more than £600,000 in prize money for owner Andrew Hollis, of Mansfield’s Norcroft Park Stud.
Led to the start by the trainer’s wife, Sophie, Take Cover was last into the stalls and Allan – rerouted to Newbury following Ayr’s abandonment – whipped the blindfold off as the gate opened.
From then on, the gelding controlled the race from the front and never appeared to be in danger.
Caspian Prince, another notable front-runner, could never get on terms and Take Cover had sufficient reserves to hold off Cotai Glory by three-quarters of a length. The classy Muthmir, carrying a penalty, suffered traffic problems and stayed on into third.
The plan is to find another suitable race for Take Cover this season – he does require good ground or quicker – and for the horse to stay in training next year.
Griffiths said: “I don’t know what to say, everything went right and he stuck on. He’s an absolute legend. He’s won four Listed races, two Group Twos, a Group Three now and been placed in a Group One – he’s just unbelievable.
“He’s got two speeds, slow and flat out. He’s not a complicated horse, but he’s strong. David gets on so well with him so it was lucky for us Ayr was off. Hopefully, he is as good as ever and he will be back next season.
“When everything is right for him, when they come to him, he doesn’t lie down. He would run through a brick wall for you. He is that game.”
Ryedale-based Allan said: “Thanks to Dave and the owners for letting me switch on to him. Not many were happy Ayr was off, but I was.
“If the stalls didn’t open I’d have taken them with me as I timed taking the blind off just right; as soon as they are off, he jumps. Normally, horses his age are on a downward spiral, but he keeps coming back.”
This year’s Ayr Gold Cup will be run at Haydock Park on Saturday after the abandonment of the three-day meeting at the Scottish track because of waterlogging.
Simple Verse, winner of the St Leger at Doncaster in 2015, has been retired, said trainer Ralph Beckett.
Time has been called on the five-year-old mare’s career after having struggled for fitness since she finished last in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June.
Simple Verse, owned by Qatar Racing, won six times from 15 starts and earned over £965,000 in prize-money.
Her last victory was at Doncaster when she won the 2016 Park Hill Stakes under Oisin Murphy.