Charlie Fellowes is excited to see what the future holds for Carnwennan following his dominant victory in the Betfair Exchange Northumberland Vase.
The four-year-old headed for Gosforth Park on a hat-trick following May wins at York and Chelmsford, and he was a well-backed 7-2 favourite to claim this £75,000 consolation for the Northumberland Plate.
Supporters of the market leader will have been content for much of the two-mile journey, a Carnwennan always travelled within himself in the hands of Stevie Donohoe.
Rare Groove – carrying the colours of ebullient local owner John Dance – briefly threatened to make a race of it inside the final two furlongs, but Carnwennan asserted late on and was good value for the winning margin of three and a half lengths.
Fellowes decided against making the long journey north from Newmarket, but was nevertheless delighted with the performance.
Speaking from home, Fellowes said: “I honestly don’t know how much improvement this horse has in him, because he’s so laid back he’s basically horizontal – which is exactly what you want for a stayer.
“It’s no good a horse being buzzed up when they’re going two miles, and he just relaxes and goes about the job so well.
“He’s clearly improved over the winter, and we came into the race today knowing he had pretty much every box ticked – he’s an improving stayer who handles the all-weather, and the big field was always going to suit him.”
Considering future plans, the trainer added: “I hadn’t really thought beyond today, to be honest. I’m sure the handicapper is going to have a good rap at him after today.
“I suppose it would be nice to end up in something like a Cesarewitch at the end of the year.”
Staxton (15-2) was an authoritative winner of the opening Betfair Exchange Handicap for trainer Tim Easterby and jockey Duran Fentiman.
Mark Johnston’s Francophilia took the Betfair Handicap at 5-1 under Silvestre de Sousa.
Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father, said: “I don’t think she really handled the undulations at Ripon last time – but back on a more galloping track, she’s bounced right back to form.
“She is in foal, and that’s her second win since she’s been in foal – which is obviously very important for an owner-breeder like Kirsten (Rausing).”
Hurcle (5-2) became yet another winning two-year-old for Archie Watson in the Betfair Casino EBF Novice Stakes – displaying a willing attitude under Ben Curtis to get the better of the more experienced 9-4 favourite Mrs Bouquet by a length.
The Roger Varian-trained Mubhij justified 2-1 favouritism in the Betfair Casino Handicap, scoring comfortably under Andrea Atzeni.
De Sousa completed a double on David O’Meara’s Anythingtoday, a decisive three and three-quarter-length winner of the closing Betfair Casino Always A Chance Handicap at 9-2.