A NECK was all that separated the well-backed favourite Gospel Choir (7/2) and the defeated Tac de Boistron in a thrilling running of the Sky Bet Yorkshire Cup at York, writes Jack Keene.
Successful in the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket last time out, Gospel Choir was never going to be short of class, but he did arrive in Yorkshire harbouring doubts about his stamina over this longer trip.
Former champion jockey Ryan Moore had to be at his strongest to get the five-year-old home in the £140,000 feature race, roared on by the majority of spectators in the packed grandstands.
As the runners fanned across the track Gospel Choir burst through and took the lead inside the final two furlongs and fought off the challenge of Tac de Boistron who was switched and charged up the stands rail, just failing to get up.
“He’s a very admirable and competitive horse, he sticks his head out and doesn’t like getting beat,” trainer Sir Michael Stoute said. “Ryan (Moore) had doubts about the trip, but he gave him a very good ride. He gets a mile and six and that’s a very good horse he’s beaten, albeit getting 4lbs from him. What’s important with this fellow is the ground, he doesn’t want bad ground.”
A Yorkshire trained double was kick-started in the Ralph Raper Memorial Stakes as G Force (9/4) thrashed his rivals for Nawton’s David O’Meara.
Daniel Tudhope was happy to hold the three-year-old up off a strong pace and brought him through with a withering late run to beat Speed Hawk by two-and-a-half lengths.
His owner, Nick Bradley of Middleham Park Racing Syndicate, nominated a tilt at the Nunthorpe Stakes back at York in August as a possible target for the lightly raced colt.
“Danny (Tudhope) has just said he’s the fastest horse he’s ever sat on, so we’ve got to start thinking about races like the Nunthorpe or the Prix l’Abbaye. We do think he’s a proper horse.”
The second leg of the local double provided relief for Richard Fahey, whose runners have hit the cross bar more than once this week, as Dusky Queen landed the EBF Stallions Breeding Winners Fillies’ Stakes by a neck, in the process securing a treble for Ryan Moore.
“This was an ideal race for her, we’ve planned it since the beginning of the year. She’ll go on any ground and she’s come good today, it’s a good race to win. It was brilliant because I’ve had three or four seconds this week, it was a long last 100 yards.”
The first leg of Moore’s three-timer was provided by hot favourite Arab Spring (13/8). He was forced to hold on grimly by half-a-length from the strong finishing Duke Of Clarence in the dying strides of the sportingbet.com Jorvik Stakes.
“He’s an interesting horse, but he’s a big baby,” trainer Stoute said, who registered a double of his own. “He’s got great rhythm, he travels nicely, but that’s as far as he wants to go.”