TIM EASTERBY couldn’t quite land a Cheltenham Festival double but the Great Habton trainer still declared himself “delighted” after Trustan Times claimed fourth in the Pertemps Network Final.
His eight-year-old was only a nose, and two necks, behind dramatic winner Fingal Bay as he belied his starting odds of 33-1 to put in a huge run.
Handy throughout, he became slightly unbalanced under jockey Ryan Mania as they came down the hill for the final time.
But he fought back strongly, staying on to the line and was only narrowly pipped for third by Pineau De Re.
Fingal Bay, ridden by Richard Johnson and trained by Philip Hobbs, justified his tag of 9-2 favourite as he just got his head in front to deny Southfield Theatre by the narrowest of margins in a thrilling finish.
Easterby said of Trustan Times: “He ran a blinder, an absolute cracker.
“Coming down the hill the last time he’s just been caught out for a bit for pace and then he stayed all the way to the line.
“He’s a big old lad and he just took a little bit of time to get organised. Once he straightened up, he was all right.
“He’s a very game horse and he’s got better with age.”
Having won the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle with Hawk High on Wednesday, Easterby revelled in a wonderful Festival for his Ryedale yard.
“It’s been great,” he added.
“The horses are in great heart so it is looking good.
“Hawk High is fine. He went and had a pick of grass the morning after and he has been great.”
Jockey Johnson said of his winning mount: “I thought we’d won as we crossed the line but when I looked up and watched the replay, I wasn’t so sure.
“He’s an amazing horse and we have always thought the world of him.
“He had an injury last year but he has come back. Philip and the owners have given him every chance to recover and they have been well rewarded.”
Firth Of The Clyde, North Yorkshire’s other runner on day three of the meeting, for Norton trainer Malcolm Jefferson, could only finish tenth in the Byrne Group Plate.