Ben Haslam toasts keynote victory as Castle Hill Cassie towers at Pontefract

Middleham handler claims Listed honours with 20-1 outsider

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Castle Hill Cassie came fast and late to spring a 20-1 surprise in the EBF Stallions Highfield Farm Flying Fillies Stakes at Pontefract and give trainer Ben Haslam a first Listed winner at the first attempt.

Graham Lee had to weave his way through the field towards the far side on the four-year-old to claim the spoils after looking to have little chance a furlong out.

Miss Bar Beach made the running and proved a tough nut to crack and it was only in the last 50 yards that the race complexion changed dramatically.

Castle Hill Cassie was switched from the rail to the outside of Miss Bar Beach and pass the post half a length to the good.

Foxtrot Lady, the 11-4 favourite, grabbed second place by a nose from Miss Bar Beach.

Johnny Murtagh’s Golden Spell threatened to take a hand in the finish but lost out in the final half a furlong for fourth ,while the other Irish-trained runner, Ken Condon’s Rajar, could never make a telling blow.

“Graham has been an important factor in her success. He rode her first out and has now won on her for a fourth time,” Haslam told Racing UK.

“He just seems to get on well with her, he doesn’t rush her early on. I think that’s the key to riding her.

“We thought there might be a fast pace. He was always going to slot in. She was a fraction outpaced early. She’s won her before and we thought they might come back to her.

“We probably weren’t expecting to win it, but we’ve never had an entry in a Listed race before. It was a race we weren’t shooting at stars. We genuinely thought she’d run well.

“She is on the up and you never know with a filly.”

It is unlikely Castle Hill Cassie will be asked to take up her entry in a seven-furlong handicap for fillies at York on Thursday.

“She does look quite well handicapped at York next week. There’s not a lot to gain by running unless she’s really bouncing,” said Haslam.

“It’s fantastic prize-money here. She’s won a Listed race, so I think we’ll probably aim upwards rather than go back to a handicap but I’ll chat to the owners.

“It’s the Ebor meeting and she is chucked-in on form, but I wouldn’t be in a hurry, personally.”

Mark Johnston will have to wait a little longer to overtake Richard Hannon and be the winning-most trainer in the UK after Lynwood Gold, his only runner of the day, lost all chance at the start of the mile-and-a-half handicap.

Lynwood Gold came out of the stalls at least 10 lengths behind his three rivals and could not make up the deficit as Armandihan (6-1) led all the way to win by six lengths from Appointed. Lynwood Gold was another four lengths away in third.

Johnston will have three chances to reach the milestone at Leicester on Monday.

Ben Haslam toasts keynote victory as Castle Hill Cassie towers at Pontefract
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