Sporting Chance just held off the late lunge of outsider Gypsy Spirit to win the British Stallion Studs EBF Ripon Champion Two Yrs Old Trophy, 2018 Stakes at Ripon.
Simon Crisford’s youngster has been highly tried this season since winning on his debut and although unplaced at a higher level, he had not been disgraced in the July Stakes at Newmarket and the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.
Barbill and Sunsprite put the pace to the race, with Life Of Riley travelling well but appearing to see out the final furlong. John Gosden’s Kessaar failed to quicken up, while Richard Hannon’s Neverland Rock never got competitive.
Sporting Chance (6-1) went clear inside the final furlong, but Jack Mitchell got a rare rattle out of the filly Gypsy Spirit, only to go down by a head to Silvestre de Sousa’s mount.
“He took his time to get going, but I was always happy when he hit top gear,” said De Sousa.
“He’s had quite a few runs, but he’s still a big baby. Hopefully this will do him good, as physically and mentally he still needs to grow up. You’d like to think he’s still improving.
“I thought I’d been caught on the line to be honest, but we’d just held on.”
Trainer Tom Clover was thrilled with the effort of the runner-up.
“I couldn’t be happier, we came to get black type and Jack just said with a clear run she’d have won,” said Clover.
“She tries so hard and clearly appreciates cut in the ground. She’s run a blinder.”
Borderforce caused a 22-1 shock when just getting the better of course specialist Gurkha Friend in the Ripon Rowels Handicap.
Having just his third start for Karl Burke since arriving from France, the winner was racing off a mark 5lb lower than that off which he had been uncompetitive in two major handicaps at Newmarket and Goodwood.
As is his wont, Gurkha Friend was sent to the front by Silvestre de Sousa but he was not allowed an easy lead by fellow front-runner Cote D’Azur.
Despite several rivals stacking up behind the two in front refused to buckle and it was only went Gurkha Friend drifted off the rail that Clifford Lee spotted an opening on Borderforce, and he prevailed by a head with Just Hiss third.
“I think the big difference today was the ground,” said Lee. “He’d won on heavy in France and while he’d have preferred it softer, he got away with it.
“It opened up lovely on the rail for me and I’d sat just off the pace hoping for that.
“Hopefully he can have a decent autumn if we get a bit more rain. I always thought I was going to get there, but Gurkha Friend is hard to pass.”
Shortbackandsides opened his account at the 11th time of asking in the Billy Nevett Memorial Handicap.
Now with Tim Easterby having started out with Scott Dixon, the three-year-old disappointed when favourite at Carlisle five days ago.
Brought with a sustained run down the centre of the track by 7lb claimer Robert Dodsworth, the 8-1 chance beat Daffy Jane by three-quarters of a length.
“That’s my seventh winner of the year. I’m based with Tim and I’ve had four for him,” said Dodsworth.
“I grew up near York racecourse and went the the racing school at Doncaster.”
Easterby said: “Robert rides very well indeed, he tried to jink a bit but Robert straightened him up nicely.
“Carlisle was a waste of time, he was drawn on the wrong side.”
Paul Hanagan found his path blocked on more the one occasion before finally extricating himself from behind rivals to win the Yorkshire Air Ambulance Handicap on Rhosneigr (9-1).
Charlie Hills’ three-year-old won twice last year but had flattered to deceive this season. He quickened up close home to beat Snowden by a neck.
Hanagan said: “He showed a good attitude, because it got a bit tight out there.
“He didn’t handle the track, he hit every undulation, so I’d say there’s more improvement to come.
“It suited us that we went an even gallop, he’s not a bad horse to look at.”
Snowden was bidding to give Michael Dods a quick double having won the six-furlong seller with Bandola (7-1). There was no bid for the Ben Curtis-ridden winner.
Agincourt (10-1) was an easy winner of the one-mile Novice Stakes for David O’Meara and Shane Gray.
After a promising debut, she had disappointed twice, but relished the softer surface with the odds-on favourite Jurran out of the places.