ROBERTO Escobarr threw his hat into the ring for Sky Bet Ebor with a gritty win over the same course and distance at York under the in-form Tom Marquand
Trained by William Haggas, the relatively lightly-raced four-year-old was sent off the 11-8 favourite in a field of four for the Listed Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Grand Cup Stakes.
Despite the select field, the 4,000 crowd were treated to a thrilling finish – with the quartet all in a line a furlong out.
David O’Meara’s Makawee tried to make all and kept on responding to her rider’s urgings – while Frankie Dettori headed for the rail on Red Verdon, his only ride of the day.
Ranch Hand was also in there battling on, but it soon became apparent Red Verdon and the eventual winner had pulled clear. It was then the Galileo colt, having just his fifth start, who pulled away to win by a length and a half.
Roberto Escobarr holds an entry at Royal Ascot this week in the Copper Horse Stakes – but appears unlikely to take it up.
Haggas’s wife Maureen said: “It was a strange race – they were all spread out, and he didn’t really have anything to race with. He just does enough, this horse. The Ebor could be a possible, but I doubt he’d run back quick at Ascot.
“He’s going the right way. Hopefully he’s one of those who will keep on improving. He’s one of those big horses, he’s still quite babyish and hasn’t had many runs.”
It was a fourth win from the last five runners for the yard, and Haggas added: “It’s a good time for them to be in form – any time is really. It’s the hardest week of the year to have winners next week, but we’ll be particularly looking forward to Mohaafeth (Hampton Court) and Alenquer (King Edward VII). Some won’t go because of the ground, and quite a few won’t get in the handicaps, but we’ll do our best.”
Even though the crowd was restricted to 4,000 racegoers, as opposed to 45,000 at the big summer meetings on the Knavesmire, a magnificent £150,000 was still raised for Macmillan on the charity’s 50th raceday at York.
Spectators also saw why Marquand is such an emerging force in racing – he followed up his win on Roberto Escobarr with an even stronger ride on Bosh to deny Kevin Ryan’s newcomer Gis A Sub on the line in the Reg Griffin Appreciation ebfstallions.com Maiden Stakes (Griffin being so integral to the Macmillan day’s inception).
Normally he’s lucky to get a handful of rides at the Royal meeting.
Now Marquand will have mounts in most races, even though his globetrotting Group One winner Addeybb misses the Prince of Wales’s Stakes due to the quick ground.
Another jockey heading to Ascot in fine form is Malton’s Jason Hart who took both of York’s concluding contests on Roger Fell’s La Trinadad and John Quinn’s in-form sprinter Mr Wagyu.
Hart partners the Quinn-trained Liberty Beach in tomorrow’s King’s Stand Stakes – a Group One race for five furlong sprinters.
The Yorkshire filly was third last year to Battaash who will be running for the first time since landing York’s Nunthorpe Stakes last August.
Quinn also saddles Keep Busy with former champion jockey Ryan Moore in the saddle while Derby-winning jockey Adam Kirby deputises for the injury-sidelined Phil Dennis on Ornate who is trained at Bawtry by David Griffiths.