THERE was a silver lining when Glen Clayton’s request to her husband Steve for a diamond ring fell on deaf ears.
Instead she was given a racehorse – the aptly-named Glen’s Diamond – who won a sparkling renewal of yesterday’s stamina-sapping Qipco Yorkshire Cup at York.
The 25-1 shock success completed a memorable week for Yorkshire runners on the Knavesmire headlined by Libertarian becoming the first locally-trained winner of the feature Betfred Dante Stakes in almost 50 years.
Second in this stayers’ test 12 months ago, Glen’s Diamond had to survive an agonising wait for the result of the photo-finish to be called – York’s racecourse announcer increased the tension still further with a long and deliberate pause before confirming that “horse number five” had withstood the late thrust of Francois Doumen’s French-raider Top Trip.
As the result was finally announced, the Claytons embraced each other in the winner’s enclosure while jockey Tony Hamilton – out of luck on Garswood in the 2000 Guineas a fortnight ago – celebrated the most significant victory to date in his career.
Positive from the off on the strongly travelling five-year-old, Hamilton had enough up his sleeve as Top Trip finally found his stride after appearing to struggle on the soft underfoot conditions.
That the runner-up was ridden by Mikael Barzalona, the 2011 Epsom Derby-winning rider, will give Hamilton great confidence as he fills the riding boots vacated by his great friend Paul Hanagan, the dual champion jockey, at Richard Fahey’s Malton yard.
Fahey was absent with flu, but his assistant Robin O’Ryan was buoyant.
“That’s the best medication I’d say,” he said. “He ran a great race last year but we were frightened of the ground and we only ran him because it was York I think. He relaxed in front and we left it all to Tony, who gets the credit.”
Hamilton, 29, was not sure if he had won as the two horses flashed past the post after such a close finish, one that saw him incur a two-day ban for whip misuse.
“I wasn’t sure if I’d won. He’s tough, he can be keen but Robin left it to me and they said put your hands on his neck and see where he lands,” he explained.
“We always knew he had a lot of ability. He was second in this race last year but didn’t have his ground after that. The weather was so bad. This is my biggest win and it’s great to do it at York.”
The soft going was certainly blamed by the aforementioned Doumen for Top Trip’s defeat.
“I’m never pleased, especially when I’m beaten by a couple of inches. He lost the race with the storm yesterday because that was not his ideal surface,” said the despondent French trainer, who saddled The Fellow to Cheltenham Gold Cup glory in 1994 over Peter Beaumont’s Jodami.
“It was a big test on ground he doesn’t like but I’m happy that we’ve got a good horse.”
Such excuses did not perturb Glen Clayton and her family who hail from South Yorkshire. Glen’s Diamond has now won £180,000 after landing this £79,394 first prize by a nose and a trip to Australia could now beckon for the Melbourne Cup.
She said: “I wanted a diamond ring but I got the horse instead. He’s been more fun than a diamond ring. I didn’t think he was going to win, I wasn’t confident at all, I thought the ground had gone against him.”
The day had begun with Clive Cox’s Beldale Memory destroying a quality field of juvenile fillies in the Langleys Solicitors LLP EBF Marygate Stakes under Jamie Spencer – the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot now beckons for the precocious youngster.
There was further success for former champion jockey Ryan Moore, who took his winning tally at the three-day Dante meeting to six aboard Sir John Hawkwood in the Betfred Jorvik Handicap; Pavlosk in the Fillies’ Stakes and Rye House in the One Marketing Communications Handicap.
All three were trained by an in-form Sir Michael Stoute – the same combination were also responsible for Liber Nauticus, who confirmed her Epsom Oaks credentials when winning Wednesday’s Musidora Stakes.
Another popular winner was Moviesta. Hambleton trainer Bryan Smart’s sprinter, part-owned by football manager Hary Redknapp, survived a photo-finish to land the five-furlong handicap under Paul Mulrennan.
Esteaming’s victory in the finale for Thirsk trainer David Barron and jockey Phil Makin brought Yorkshire’s tally of winners at the three-day meeting to seven.
Meanwhile, there is now every likelihood that Dante-winning jockey William Buick will retain his partnership with North Yorkshire trainer Elaine Burke’s Libertarian in the Epsom Derby on June 1 after the horse emerged unscathed following his win.
Buick’s main trainer John Gosden no longer has any runners left in the blue riband Classic after the latest declarations. Jim Bolger’s Dawn Approach heads the ante-post betting, while Aidan O’Brien is responsible for seven of the 24 remaining entries.
An intriguing contender is Mirsaale – his young up-and-coming trainer James Tate used to be stable vet at Mark Johnston’s Middleham yard before switching to Newmarket, while his widely-respected father Tom trains at Tadcaster.
Buick’s winning run continued when Winsili prevailed at Newbury yesterday – the Gosden filly could contest the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.
“They didn’t go that slow, it ran like a sound race, and she galloped all the way to the line,” said the Northern Racing College graduate. “She did it well, and it’ll be up to the boss what he wants to do now.”
The jockey then completed a double on Zanetto.