Gulliver pounces late to lift York prize

Busy sprinter had gone close in Ayr Gold Cup

  • Saturday 12 October
  • News
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David O’Meara’s Gulliver defied a starting price of 16-1 to win the Coral Sprint Trophy at York under Jason Hart.

The five-year-old gelding locked horns with Tim Easterby’s Hyperfocus as the winning post approached, eventually prevailing on the line by just a neck.

The victory is the second the gelding has notched up on the Knavesmire this season, the first the result of another six-furlong handicap contest in June when he rewarded punters at 20-1.

“He was third in the Ayr Gold Cup,” said O’Meara.

“We all actually thought he wanted better ground, but he won here early on in the year so he obviously likes the track.

“He was very tough, Jason (Hart) kept after him and gave him a great ride.”

Lucander kick-started a day to remember for Ralph Beckett when winning the Play Correct4 For Free With Coral Nursery Handicap, run over a mile.

The gelding’s victory was the first of a five-timer for Beckett, who also collected a string of four prizes at Newmarket.

“He ran relatively smoothly all the way through,” said Ben Curtis, who steered the two-year-old to a narrow short-head victory.

“I probably had the best form in the book coming into the race, there were a few others that looked like they might progress past me but I think once you let him go he can keep the ball rolling.”

The winning margin was not quite so tight for Richard Fahey’s Coolagh Forest (7-2), who came home three lengths ahead of 2-1 favourite Johnny Drama in the Smart Money’s On Coral Handicap over a mile and two furlongs.

Paul Hanagan was the jockey responsible, and said: “He’s a horse that’s got better and better as the season’s gone on.

“I kind of got into a battle with him a few times and now I think the best thing is just to put your hands on his neck and relax. I’ve found the key to him now.”

Hanagan was less enthused about the suggestion that the horse might reroute to the National Hunt sphere, having stayed well on York’s testing soft ground.

“I hope not,” he joked when asked whether the colt might make a hurdler.

“He does stay, so the jump boys will be queuing up for him.”

A convincing victory from Mick Easterby’s Sassie (5-1) then provided Hanagan with a double, with the four-year-old filly taking the two-mile Free Bets For Lengths With Coral Handicap.

Al Rufaa (11-2) clung on to victory in the Join The Coral Bet & Get Club Novice Stakes.

Almost edged out of the winner’s spot by Fox Duty Free on the line, the Kingman colt just managed to maintain his lead and eventually triumphed by a neck.

In doing so, trainer John Gosden claimed a ninth winner of the season on the Knavesmire and was thus awarded the 2019 Charles Clinkard York Top Trainer title.

The Coldstream Guards Association Cup Handicap, run over a mile and two furlongs, went the way of 3-1 favourite Dubai Icon, trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by Josephine Gordon.

Gulliver pounces late to lift York prize
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