Ancient cross holds on to see off Goldream

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LIBERTARIAN was the centrepiece of a Yorkshire four-timer on day two of the Dante festival.

After local runners drew a blank on Wednesday, there was a popular success when Ancient Cross made a sparkling return to form in the opening Betfred Mobile Sports Stakes.

Sheriff Hutton trainer Mick Easterby was not on the Knavesmire – he was wheeling and dealing at the Doncaster Sales – but delighted owners Pete Bown, Ritchie Fiddes and Steve Hull were present to savour this moment.

Their 14-1 chance has only landed one other race since taking the corresponding contest two years ago, but Ancient Cross was always close to the pace and stuck on well to defeat Goldream by a neck.

“It’s been a great team effort, and the Easterbys love having a winner at York,” said jockey Paul Mulrennan.

Danny Tudhope timed it to perfection on Smoothtalkinrascal (5-2) in a blanket finish to the British Stallion Studs Supporting British Racing EBF Conditions Stakes.

An unlucky loser at Sandown on his second start, he was behind Polski Max and Lucky Beggar last time out but turned the tables for in-form Nawton trainer David O’Meara, winning by a nose from Lucky Beggar.

Richard Fahey’s Parbold (100-30 favourite) looks to have a nice future after making a winning debut in the Stratford Place Stud For Royal Ascot 2yos EBF Maiden under Tony Hamilton, but there were plenty who ran with promise in behind.

None more so perhaps than the winner’s stablemate Tiger Twenty Two, who flew from the rear to claim third.

Malton-based Fahey said: “We did fancy him so it’s nice to see him go and do it.

“He’s one of the better ones we’ve got but I’d like to get him home now.

“People love to mention Royal Ascot but I’d like to have a good sort out over the next couple of weeks. I was worried about the rain, as he’s a good-moving sort.”

Jonjo O’Neill’s Well Sharp (16-1) turned the Investec Specialist Bank into a procession, winning by six lengths.

O’Neill and the horse’s owner JP McManus are stalwarts of National Hunt racing and it was perhaps fitting that they should take this contest – a torrential deluge which began immediately after the Dante saw conditions rapidly deteriorate to soft as the afternoon progressed.