Who Dares Wins got up in the last strides to prevent a local win for Dubawi Fifty in the Betfair Exchange Northumberland Plate Handicap.
On a searingly hot afternoon at Newcastle, Alan King’s victor produced a stirring late run down the middle of the track to prevail by a head – with Proschema a further length away in third.
In-form jockey Tom Marquand was capping a brilliant week in the saddle, adding this 12-1 success to wins on 100-1 and a 50-1 shots in the past five days.
Many in a packed crowd would doubtless have been delighted to have instead cheered home 14-1 chance Dubawi Fifty, representing Karen McLintock – who trains in Ingoe, only 20 miles from the Gosforth Park track.
But Marquand and Who Dares Wins made stealthy progress as Dubawi Fifty passed the pace-setting Speedo Boy and went for home – and in the end it was King’s charge whose timing was spot on, for a trainer who has endured a deeply frustrating time of late.
King said: “We’ve had a quiet spell – we’ve had a lot of placed horses, but I think we’ve gone 50 or 60 runners on the Flat without a winner, so I needed that today.
“I was a bit worried early, because he couldn’t go the pace and he wasn’t as far forward as I hoped he’d be.”
The Barbury Castle trainer always knew, however, that stamina was a strength for the six-year-old dual-purpose gelding who won last year’s Cesarewitch Trial over two and a quarter miles at Newmarket.
“I knew he’d stay on, but I must admit I thought the line was going to come too soon,” he added.
“At the furlong marker I thought ‘great, we’re going to get placed’, but Tom pulled him out and the horse ran on again.
“He’s been a marvellous horse for us. He’s been placed at Cheltenham and Aintree, and in three Chester Cups. He’ll be a very exciting novice chaser as well – that’s the plan for the autumn.
“I don’t think he’d be quick enough for the Ebor, but he could go for the Cesarewitch if we get a bit of dig in the ground.”
Marquand said: “This horse has had his big day coming for a long time.
“I was a 5lb claimer when I first won on him, and he’s come here and won a Northumberland Plate.
“I was always pretty confident I was going to get there.”
Henry Ponsonby, head of the ownership syndicate, was delighted to have secured Marquand’s services in the first place.
“I want to give a lot of credit to Richard Hannon, who allowed us the jockey today – and the aeroplane,” he said.
“We’re getting the jockey back for the 5.55pm at Doncaster!
“He’s a great horse. He’s been placed at Cheltenham and Aintree and Royal Ascot – he’s wonderful.”
Supporters of several market leaders had only fleeting reason to hope.
Ante-post plunge Gibbs Hill appeared to be going well alongside Who Dares Wins in midfield – but that illusion quickly vanished as the 5-1 joint second-favourite lost his place dramatically and failed to finish.
Sole Irish challenger Stratum was backed into 9-2 favourite at the off in this edition of the famous handicap feature, but failed to make a telling impact – fading after racing prominently.
McLintock said of her brave runner-up: “I’m over the moon with him – he’s such a star and makes me so proud.
“He deserves to win a big one. To be beaten the same way as he was at Royal Ascot is tough, but one day he’ll get there I’m sure.
“Alan came over to me after the race and said, ‘I would say sorry, but I wouldn’t mean it!’.”