A MEMORABLE week for trainer William Haggas was capped with a fifth victory when the classy colt Ajaya streaked clear to win the prestigious Gimcrack Stakes on the Ebor festival’s concluding day.
Like Recorder, Tasleet and Besharah, the victor is a two-year-old of limitless potential while the other member of the ‘famous five’, Storm The Stars, is favourite for next month’s Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster.
“This horse has changed completely,” said Haggas who was crowned leading trainer at the meeting.
“I was all for sending him home in March and giving him six weeks off. He’s done nothing but improve physically. We’ve got some two-year-olds who can run a bit this year and I’m sure they help each other along.”
The Skipton-born trainer was also encouraged by the run of Raucous who was back in third – the Haggas pair were separated by Ribchester whose run delighted Malton trainer Richard Fahey while USA challenger Finnegan faded into seventh after setting the early pace.
The Group Two race was slightly devalued by the defection of Mark Johnston’s Royal Ascot winner Buratino – the Middleham trainer said the horse will only run again this season on “fast” ground while he reported that star fully Lumiere sustained a few superficial ‘war wounds’ when runner-up in the Lowther Stakes at York on Thursday.
However, Johnston did celebrate a welcome winner when outsider Polarisation grabbed a last-gasp victory in the Betfred Melrose Handicap under Liam Jones.
It was a successful final day for Yorkshire horses after Mondialiste, runner-up in the season-opening Betway Lincoln at Doncaster, landed the Betfred Strensall Stakes under Danny Tudhope.
Stepping up to nine furlongs, the horse needed every yard of the trip – Tudhope incurred a four-day whip ban for his troubles – and Nawton trainer David O’Meara suggested the horse might need further after repaying owner Geoff Turnbull, who had bought the horse for €190,000 out of Freddy Head’s stable last summer.
This training performance is so typical of O’Meara’s uncanny ability to rejuvenate horses that have lost their way at other stables, and why rumours abound that he could be asked to train at the all-conquering Ballydoyle stables in Ireland next year if Aidan O’Brien opts to pursue a new challenge under National Hunt horses with his eldest son Joseph who has well-documented weight issues.
The O’Brien riding arrangements continue to perplex in the injury absence of Ryan Moore.
The trainer’s youngest son Donnacha, a five-pound claimer, hardly covered himself in glory aboard Outspoken in the aforementioned Melrose or on the free-travelling favourite Fields of Athenry in the Betfred Ebor where he set up the race for Oisin Murphy on Litigant.
The meeting ended with Thesme showing the opposition a clean pair of heels as she swept to an all-the-way win under Rachel Richardson.
Malton trainer Nigel Tinkler said: “They say a good filly can beat the colts and she has. She’s tough and genuine.”
KARL Burke’s Odeliz, so often the bridesmaid, finally gained the big win her consistent efforts deserved by landing the Darley Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville.
The win gave the Leyburn trainer a second Group One victory in France after Lord Shanakill’s Prix Jean Prat success in 2009.