DAVID Griffiths thought his horse of a lifetime Take Cover was back to his very best – and the South Yorkshire trainer was vindicated when his ever popular stable star put up a career best performance to land the Qatar King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and first prize of nearly £180,000.
Now nine years young, Take Cover has made this five furlong Group Two sprint his own in the past three renewals. Victorious in 2014 to help launch the training career of Bawtry-based Griffiths, this fabulous front-runner was runner-up 12 months ago before winning an epic renewal yesterday.
The last to enter the stalls because of a fractious temperament – the gelding has injured himself in the past by banging his head on the stalls – Take Cover was first out under regular jockey David Allan and never surrendered the advantage, even when his sprint rivals threatened to draw level late on. Those on the far rail did not enjoy luck in running, there was some significant scrimmaging, but the quality of the field was superior to 2014 and Take Cover now heads to York’s Ebor festival in search of a change of luck in the Group One Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes.
As flagged up by The Yorkshire Post yesterday, Griffiths was quick to attribute his stable star’s lacklustre showing at Royal Ascot to unsuitably soft ground.
“He’s come right back to his best,” said the one-time riding tutor at Doncaster’s Northern Racing College. “I’m over the moon. He drifted a bit right today but that’s just him. It seems to do it here for some reason but it doesn’t stop him.
“Today has been fabulous. It’s a dream day for myself, my wife Sophie, who rides the horse out at home, and my staff.
“This is one of the quickest five furlongs in the country and he’s a quick horse.
“He just keeps rolling and seems to love it here. We were beaten a short-head in the Stewards’ Cup in 2013, then we won the King George in 2014 and we were narrowly beaten in the same race last year – that’s some record!
“He’s nine but has no miles on the clock and retains all his enthusiasm. He’s the perfect sprinter.
“He’s our flagship horse and puts us on another level when we can compete at the likes of Royal Ascot, York and here.
“Financially, it’s very important too! The Nunthorpe will be the plan, all being well.
“He just hasn’t had any luck in the Nunthorpe.
“The first time he ran, he hit his head on the stalls and then last year he went under them, so I just hope he’s straight out of them safe and sound this time around!”
As for Allan, the jockey was unfazed when Aidan O’Brien’s Washington DC and the Robert Cowell-trained Goldream challenged in the closing stages. “He’s just got raw speed and he really battles in the finish, as well,” said the winning rider.
“He loves to get on with it, but when something comes at him in the finish, he doesn’t half dig in. He’s still improving, I think.”