Owen Burrows’ Anmaat defies long lay-off to land the John Smith’s Cup at York
Off the track for 287 days since finishing second in the Cambridgeshire last year, the four-year-old defied a mark of 103 to pick up the fourth success of his career.
Outsider The City’s Phantom led the 22-strong field for a long way and there were plenty in contention as the historic 10-furlong contest entered the business end.
But it was the gelded son of Awtaad, ridden for the first time by Kevin Stott, that loomed up looking like the winner at the furlong pole and he showed plenty of tenacity in the closing stages to first win a prolonged battle with eventual fourth Spirit Dancer and then hold off Achelois (second) and the fast-finishing Intellogent (third).
“It was a great effort today by the horse and all my team to get him to win that after 280-odd days. To be able to win such a competitive handicap is a hell of a performance,” Burrows said.
“He was very slow to come to hand anyway, I had him in the Lincoln but he was a woolly as anything. We thought we’d just give him a bit of time as he just had a few niggly little hold-ups, nothing too major.
“We’ve had this race in mind for a while and it’s brilliant that it’s come off. We’ll probably be forced into stakes company now, I’d have thought – we’ll see what the handicapper does, but he won that off 103 so we’ll see and go from there.”
Richard Fahey’s Spirit Dancer was the best placed of the Yorkshire finishers in fourth under Oisin Orr.
Last season’s Nunthorpe winner Winter Power again failed to shine as she finished sixth in the John Smith’s City Walls Stakes for jockey David Allan and trainer Tim Easterby.
The race went to James Tate’s Royal Aclaim who produced a blistering display in the sunshine under Andrea Atzeni.
The unbeaten daughter of Aclaim, who had Perfect Power back in third on debut back in May 2021, was the 11-4 joint-favourite for the five-furlong Listed event following an impressive comeback from 382 days off the track at Bath last month.
And she lit up the Knavesmire as she sauntered to a two-length victory under Atzeni, who simply had to keep the four-year-old up to her work in the closing stages.
“I feel a lot better after that,” said the winning trainer. On future targets, Tate added: “Nunthorpe! Nunthorpe, Nunthorpe, Nunthorpe. We’ve no idea how good she is, but I’m looking forward out finding out.
“I think this is the fastest horse I’ve ever trained.”
Simon and Ed Crisford’s Without A Fight may have booked his ticket to Australia for the Melbourne Cup with a business-like success in the John Smith’s Silver Cup at York.
The five-year-old gelding was a 10-11 chance for the Group Three event, which attracted only three runners with Ed Dunlop’s John Leeper and Mark and Charlie Johnston’s Thunderous the other participants to give the Crisfords their third winner of the two-day meeting.
This season’s leading trainer on the Knavesmire, Leyburn’s Karl Burke, took his tally to eight winners as Eilean Dubh (4-1) continued on an upward trajectory when winning the John Smith’s Racing Handicap under Clifford Lee.
The pair then teamed up to win the John Smith’s Nursery Handicap with Miss Jungle Cat (6-1).
Rob Hornby’s fine July Festival continued as he partnered Andrew Balding’s Alcohol Free to victory in the Darley July Cup Stakes at Newmarket.
Hornby had never won a Group One on home soil until steering Prosperous Voyage to capsize Inspiral on Friday Afternoon – but doubled his tally in the space of barely 24 hours as the daughter of No Nay Never ran out a convincing winner.
Kevin Ryan’s Emaraaty Ana finished sixth, with Richard Fahey’s Perfect Power seventh.