THREE times is a charm for Serena Brotherton.
Pearl Castle (4-1 fav) gave the Whitwell-on-the-Hill solicitor a hat-trick of victories in the Queen Mother’s Cup at York Racecourse, the richest race of its type in Europe for lady amateur riders.
Handily placed throughout the mile-and-a-half contest, Pearl Castle was travelling superbly and hit the front only to be chased by Saptapadi, the one-time Ebor Handicap and Melbourne Cup runner trained by Brian Ellison at Norton.
Pearl Castle dug in resolutely, however, to score by a length and add to Brotherton’s roll of honour, which also includes Flower O’Cannie in 1999 and Sporting Gesture four years later.
The former was Brotherton’s first ever winner on the Flat and, having had to wait more than a decade to win her weight in champagne once again – six cases – she said this victory was very special.
“It’s been a long time between drinks,” Brotherton quipped. “The last time was 2003 and it has been a long time. He travelled through the race very nicely.
“We went a nice pace and John (Quinn, trainer) said if he had something to aim at he would like it. The worry was always that someone would be coming fast and late and that’s how Saptapadi runs. It was just a case of whether the post would come in time.”
Having not enjoyed a York winner since 2010 before yesterday’s success with Pres Rapide, Highfield-based Quinn was delighted to double up in two days of the June meeting.
“Experience was pivotal and the first two furlongs was the most important part,” he said. “Serena rode him very well and I can see him turning up in some mile and a half handicaps.
“He’s a really nice horse and he will win plenty of races. I was on the phone to Serena to ride him very early. I think it was even before the entries came out.”
Spirit Of The Law (14-1) rallied superbly as the old double act of Malton trainer Richard Fahey and jockey Paul Hanagan combined to win the JCB Handicap.
The three-year-old was headed by Busatto inside the final furlong but stuck his head out gamely to fight back and claim the decision in a photo-finish.
Fahey, celebrating his second York winner of the season, said: “He was a bit disappointing at Epsom, but he was drawn wide there, so we thought we'd come to York.
"Paul was at his very best. There was no pace there so Paul had him handy and took them along at his pace and got the fractions spot on.
"He looked like he was beat the last 100 yards, but Paul got him back up."
Fahey had five entered in the Reg Griffin Appreciation Stallions Maiden Stakes but it was Pallister (3-1) that got home just in front of his Winstanley for Middleham trainer Mark Johnston.
Great Habton trainer Tim Easterby picked up a fourth victory in the £100,000 BetBright Charity Sprint with See The Sun all out to win the six furlong dash.
Winner of the race 12 months ago with Body And Soul, the saddler watched as his three-year-old led passing the furlong poll and battled hard – when treading water – to hold off the fast finishing Naadirr by a neck.
Easterby said: “He can get out of the stalls and I was a bit worried that he went too early. This is a great place if you have a horse with a real proper boot early.
“It’s the fourth time I’ve won the race and it’s amazing really. I’ve been beaten once or twice as well. This was the plan for him and it’s very difficult to know where to go now. We can rest up a little bit.”
Nawton's David O'Meara further strengthened his position at the top of the track's trainer standings after Highland Acclaim (16-1) won the closing Charles Henry Memorial Handicap in the hands of highly rated apprentice Oisin Murphy.