George Baker: delivered a fine ride on Quest For More at York
PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
GREAT BRITAIN have returned from the Rio Olympics with numerous fine performances and a record haul of medals.
In the wake of four thrilling days of action at York’s Ebor festival, Bill Barber, David Carr, Jon Lees and Lee Mottershead hand out the medals to the top performers of the week.
A stylish victory in the Juddmonte International over a trip that was supposed to be too short and at a time when his trainer was supposed to be out of form suggests Postponed is a top-notcher.
‘Military man’ Sheikh Mohammed Obaid earned a gold for shooting – from the hip – as he explained in his own forthright way the reasons behind Postponed’s switch from Luca Cumani to Roger Varian.
Nunthorpe-winning owner David Metcalfe had a rather different take on relations with your trainer. He allowed Michael Dods the final decision on whether to run Mecca’s Angel and said: “What do you pay your trainer for? We haven’t done much wrong yet, have we?”
The Yorkshire weather got top marks if you were a sentimentalist – dry up until racing on the other three days but just enough rain before the opener on Friday for Mecca’s Angel to be allowed do her stuff.
There was definitely a gold for good behaviour in the weighing room. In 25 races there was just one riding offence deemed worthy of a suspension – carelessness that earned Andrea Atzeni a two-day ban on Postponed.
George Baker showed tactical nous worthy of Team GB’s wily women hockey players to take the Lonsdale Cup from the front on Quest For More.
One of the great joys of attending the Ebor festival is the meeting is so very Yorkshire. Whereas Glorious Goodwood’s sponsor Qatar has no obvious bonds with Sussex, York’s title partner Welcome to Yorkshire does exactly what it says on the tin. Indeed, parts of the racecourse display leaflets advertising other local tourist attractions. The brass bands help as well.
Not many National Hunt trainers win at Royal Ascot and the Ebor meeting in the same year with different horses so hats off to jumps man Alan King, who followed up Primitivo’s success in June by striking with Oceane here.
It may not have been to the taste of everyone who had come for a joyous summer afternoon out, but the band playing after racing on Nunthorpe day was not afraid to darken the mood with versions of Love Will Tear Us Apart and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, neither of which are probably on the Royal Ascot playlist.
Few second places in Olympic fortnight were more worthy – or more unexpected – than that of Yorker, who was having his first run for 806 days and started outsider of the field for the Strensall Stakes.
Third place was all hot favourite Fair Eva could manage in the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes but as her sire Frankel was also responsible for the winner Queen Kindly his bandwagon rolls on.
Time heals all wounds as Yorkshire and England cricketing legend Geoff Boycott showed on ladies’ day, tweeting a picture of himself with his old nemesis Michael Holding in the parade ring. Holding bowled what has become known as the greatest over in test history to Boycott at Bridgetown, Barbados in 1981.
It was good to see BBC Radio 5 Live continued to cover the Ebor meeting despite the Olympics, although the action in Rio meant a couple of races were broadcast after the event.
It was a respectable week for the home team, with trainers Richard Fahey, Kevin Ryan, David O’Meara and Tim Easterby all scoring for Yorkshire.
DOWN THE FIELD
At 4.01pm on Juddmonte International day, Arabian Queen’s groom Laura Gardner posted on Facebook: “. . .This time last year I was leading up the Queen winning the Juddmonte, this year I’m shoveling s**t at eve stables!!! Swings and roundabouts :)”
To lose one Royal Crown Derby plate when a gust of wind blows it off the presentation table before the Great Voltigeur might be regarded as a misfortune but to lose both looks like carelessness.