Staxton wins Easterby's third Great St Wilfrid

In-form sprinter may head to Ayr next month.

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Staxton provided Tim Easterby with a third win in the historic William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon.

Having taken the spoils with the flying filly Pipalong in 1999, Easterby then had to wait until 2017 to win it again with Mattmu.

Staxton was following up a recent course-and-distance success, having tumbled down the weights, but there was plenty of market confidence behind his chance on this occasion.

Having broken smartly from stall 17, he was always up with the pace for Duran Fentiman on the near side, but there was nothing between the two groups – with Abel Handy taking the far side along.

While the rest finished in a heap, however, the 4-1 favourite had three-quarters of a length to spare over 100-1 shot Royal Residence – with Mr Lupton third and Abel Handy clinging on for fourth.

While other trainers would have been overjoyed at winning the feature race, in typical Easterby fashion he was thinking of what might have been.

“I wish I’d run Flying Pursuit – I only didn’t declare him because I didn’t think it would be soft enough,” he said.

When it was suggested he would not have beaten Staxton, he replied: “He might have done, you know.

“Staxton is a really nice horse, but he just wasn’t running very well early on this season, and we don’t know why.

“He ran a blinder in the Ayr Gold Cup last season when he didn’t get a run, but he just wasn’t firing this season.

“You have to wait for him to come to himself – he’d been in great form at home and then he won last time. After that, we thought he had a great chance today.

“He’s very straightforward and deserved to win a good race, and he’ll go to Ayr later on for one of those races with all the good sprinters.

“I’d just like to say thank you to Ripon for putting a good prize like this on – it’s not what it was, but in these times it is very much appreciated.”

For Fentiman, who sometimes drives Easterby’s horse box and leads up on days he does not ride, it was a rare moment in the spotlight.

“This makes up for all the hard work, with days like today,” said Fentiman.

“He’s such a game horse and he’s a delight to ride.

“I won on him last time out, but to ride him in a race like this and to get him home in front is a real pleasure.”

Staxton was introduced into the Ayr Gold Cup betting at 16-1 by Betfair.

Staxton wins Easterby's third Great St Wilfrid
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