York racecourse specialist Hamish McGonagall inked in for a tilt at Nunthorpe Stakes (From York Press)
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York racecourse specialist Hamish McGonagall inked in for a tilt at Nunthorpe Stakes
Hamish McGonagall, ridden by David Allan, right, wins the John Smith’s City Wall Stakes at York Racecourse
ANOTHER crack at the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes next month will be Hamish McGonagall’s destiny after the course specialist racked up his fourth win at York Racecourse in the John Smith’s City Walls Stakes.
He led virtually from pillar-to-post to land the £33,000 Listed race for his trainer, Great Habton’s Tim Easterby.
Ridden by David Allan, Magical Macey got closest to Hamish McGonagall (5-1 jt-fav) early on, but the seven-year-old romped to a length-and-a-half victory over Pabusar.
It capped a superb two-day York meeting for Easterby, who celebrated two winners on Friday and also claimed the closing John Smith’s Nursery with 7-4 favourite Royal Rascal.
He confirmed that York’s Group 1 sprint at the Ebor Festival would now be the target of his super sprinter.
A year ago, Hamish McGonagall finished second in the Nunthorpe Stakes behind Margot Did.
“No doubt about it,” said Easterby. “He goes to the Nunthorpe Stakes. He might go to the King George at Goodwood first.
“He is an absolute superstar and he loves it at York. He gets the trip and this is his track. It doesn’t matter what the ground is like, he loves it and it is just brilliant.”
Allan added: “Everyone knows how he runs on this track and he has done it again.”
York owner Andy Franks has been trying for 30 years to have a winner on Knavesmire and Anderiego (13-2) finally achieved his dream when winning the John Smith’s Racing Handicap.
Self-employed Franks, who lives only 200 yards from the track, set up the Ebor Racing Club with other York-based racing fans, including the tenants of the Victoria Vaults pub in Nunnery Lane, in a bid to have a winner on his home track.
And the four-year-old, trained by Nawton’s David O’Meara and ridden by Kieren Fallon, obliged in style – swooping down the stands’ side in the final furlong to see off Levitate by two-and-a-half lengths.
“There are ten syndicate members and it has always been a dream to win at York,” said Franks.
“I have been trying for 30 years. I’ve won at Southwell and other tracks but I only live 200 yards away from here.
“We’ve gone to the best trainer and it is fantastic to finally win. We set up the syndicate purely to win a race at York.”
Fallon struck a double straight away when Mount Athos (5-1), trained by Newmarket’s Luca Cumani, wiped the floor with the field in the Listed John Smith’s Silver Cup.
There were plenty of chances at the three furlong marker but, once Fallon took the five-year-old top weight to the lead, he burst away from the rest and was four lengths ahead of High Jinx at the line.
Fallon said: “They didn’t go much of a gallop but he showed a better turn of foot than I thought he had and it was a great performance.”
The Ryan family also got on the York scoresheet when Blaine (7-2) claimed the John Smith’s Median Auction Maiden Stakes.
The juvenile, trained by Hambleton’s Kevin Ryan and ridden by his apprentice daughter Amy, was too strong for Bachotheque with the 9-4 favourite Garswood only third.