Copper Knight earned himself a crack at the best sprinters around when outpointing several notable speedsters in the John Smith’s City Wall Stakes at York.
The Tim Easterby-trained five-year-old is now pencilled in for the King George Qatar Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes back at the Knavesmire next month after this Listed triumph.
Copper Knight (2-1 favourite) was always close to the frenetic pace set by Caspian Prince before asserting in the final furlong and holding the pack, led by Dark Shot, by half a length under David Allan.
“Brilliant. What a lovely horse he is. He’s been a star for us,” said Easterby.
“Ideally he likes a bit more juice in the ground, but he copes with anything.
“A good race, that was. It was close at the finish, but he looked to be in command. He sticks his neck out.
“He’ll probably run at Goodwood and possibly come back here for the Nunthorpe. He had to win this to pay for his entry fees!
“He’s just a wonderful little racehorse.”
Allan completed a quick double with a thrilling success on Red Verdon in the John Smith’s Silver Cup.
He gave Ed Dunlop’s six-year-old a patient ride as Weekender and Kelly’s Dino took the field along for the majority of this mile and three-quarters contest.
They gave way a furlong out and Red Verdon (20-1) dug deep to lift the Group Three staying prize by a head from Gold Mount, with Raheen House a short head away in third.
Allan said: “My instructions were to take my time on him and not get involved early and get there in the last furlong. It couldn’t have worked any better.
“I was picking the right horses to follow. No-one was going better than I was.
“He’s been running in better races and I think he enjoyed the fact he could travel better.
“He dug in really well at the finish, was headed and got back up.
“He looks the type for the Ebor, but I’m hoping to get Wells Farhh Go for that. This track and a strong gallop in the Ebor would be ideal for this horse. You never know – I’ll leave it up to them.”
Escobar could be bound for Goodwood after enjoying a confident ride from Jamie Spencer in the John Smith’s Racing Handicap.
David O’Meara’s five-year-old hinted he was approaching his best when second to Mojito at Sandown last Saturday and duly went one better to book his place in the Unibet Golden Mile at Goodwood.
Rise Hall looked like justifying favouritism when he hit the front but he was being shadowed all the way by Spencer on Escobar (11-4), who was simply waiting for the right time to pounce.
Pounce he did inside the final furlong before going on to score by three-quarters of a length. The leading duo drew seven lengths clear of Crownthorpe in third.
“He’s a very good horse. He’s got a massive engine. He’s not always the toughest in the world, but when he gets a certain set of circumstances, he can really run well,” said O’Meara.
“He was second in the Balmoral last year (at Ascot) and he won with his head in his chest at Haydock last year. Even last week he ran a lovely race at Sandown.
“Goodwood is the plan. I’d love to run him there. I hope he gets drawn well.”
Mancini (11-10 favourite) gave Spencer a double with a tremendous staying performance over two miles in the John Smith’s Stayers’ Handicap.
Spencer set the pace on Jonathan Portman’s five-year-old but looked beaten when headed inside the final quarter-mile. However, he fought back like a lion to get back up close home and deny Makawee by a head.
“He kept going. He’s game, tries hard. I probably should have gone faster. He pricked his ears in front and just kept galloping,” said Spencer, who was given a two-day ban (July 28-29) for careless riding on Settling Sail, runner-up in the John Smith’s Diamond Jubilee Cup.
Spencer was denied a treble when he was caught in the final strides on Kevin Ryan’s newcomer Abstemious by Rossa Ryan on the Richard Hannon-trained Oh Purple Reign (4-5 favourite) in the John Smith’s Novice Median Auction Stakes.
Troubador (5-1) defied top weight with authority for trainer Michael Dods and jockey Paul Mulrennan in the John Smith’s Nursery Handicap.
Dods has the Redcar Two-Year-Old Trophy as the autumn target for the son of Poet’s Voice.
“We’ll probably give him a race or two in between. He’s a nice, very straight-forward horse, said the the Darlington trainer.