TIDDLIWINKS sprang a 25-1 surprise when coming from the rear of the field to capture the Grade Two Duke Of York totepool Stakes.
The six-year-old, trained by Kevin Ryan at Hambleton, was held up by Jamie Spencer in the early stages as his stablemate Bogart helped make the pace with Bannock and Soul also prominent.
A close third in this six-furlong feature last year, Tiddliwinks produced a telling turn of foot to take the lead and hold on dourly by a neck from The Cheka with strong-finishing Society Rock a neck back in third. Bogart was fourth.
The big disappointment was Mick Easterby’s Hoof it, co-owned with golfer Lee Westwood and sports agent Chubby Chandler, who was unplaced – Ryan Moore never looked comfortable aboard the sprinter.
As for Tiddliwinks, Ryan said: “We really fancied him (yesterday) and Bogart will improve an awful lot for that run too.
“It means an awful lot to me to have a winner for Guy Reed (owner) at this meeting.
“He’s a huge supporter of mine and a great man. I thought he’d got there too soon, but when Jamie gave him a squeeze he just took off. Thankfully, he held on.
“He’s had plenty of bad draws and no luck in big sprint handicaps. The ground was too soft for him at Newmarket last time, but you can’t win this without having a run, so we had to run him there.”
James Doyle emphasised why he is a rising star when Secret Witness (14-1) was a ready winner of the William Birch & Sons Construction Stakes for York owner Paul Moulton.
The jockey, victorious on Cityscape at the Dubai World Cup meeting when he deputised for the sidelined Steve Drowne, brought the six-year-old through on the near side to hit the front a furlong out.
Doyle said: “The plan was to ride a patient enough race and creep into it and it worked out well. I’ve almost ended up getting there too soon as the ones in front of me just stopped. I just had to edge out as I didn’t want to disappoint him and he’s done it nicely. He idled a bit close to the line.”
Chepstow-based trainer Ronald Harris revealed Secret Witness could reappear in today’s opener. “There’s no reason why not. He ran twice in two days at Doncaster last year. When the owner, who now lives in York, saw what price he was, he ran off quickly so I’d imagine he backed him. He’s better in a big field. He got a great tow into the race, but James went a bit too soon really because he idles in front.”