By James Brennan

TIM EASTERBY is hoping to cap a superb season by landing the Charles Clinkard Top Trainer title over the course of York’s two-day season finale, staged tomorrow and Saturday.

Based just 30 miles away in Great Habton, the handler has this year registered 11 victories on Knavesmire – two more than nearest rival, Andrew Balding.

Easterby has climbed this summit once before, back in 1999. It is a feat he would love to replicate but past experience has taught him there is still work to be done.

He said: “I’ve been in front going to the last couple of days quite a lot of times and got beat. So you’ve never won until you’ve won it.”

The Ryedale trainer is certainly giving it his best shot, with 13 runners declared for Friday and a stack of horses entered for Saturday’s card.

With a chuckle, Easterby explained: “Well, everybody wants to run at York and they’re all soft-ground horses.”

One horse who may or may not be in action at York this week is Copper Knight. The seven-year-old is entered in Saturday’s Coral Sprint Trophy, the £100,000 highlight of proceedings, but could yet go to Musselburgh the same afternoon for a conditions race.

But what is certain is that Copper Knight will be celebrated on Friday’s card when a race is staged in his name. The gelding, who runs for the Denham family as Ventura Racing & Partners, has recorded six wins from 16 starts on Knavesmire, hence the ‘Copper Knight – Winning Most Horse at York Handicap’. This will be staged at 4.20pm and will include Music Society and Showalong from Easterby’s string.

Assessing his stable stalwart, Easterby said: “He’s very game, very consistent, tries very hard, doesn’t take a lot of work. He gets turned out every day and we don’t overwork him – we run him quite a lot. Basically, we don’t do anything complicated with him.”

Copper Knight gave Easterby one of three winners at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival when he took the meeting’s curtain-raiser, the Sky Bet & Symphony Group Handicap. The following day, Cruyff Turn scored in the Clipper Logistics Heritage Handicap.

But the highlight of the meeting for the Easterby stable was the length-and-a-quarter victory of Winter Power in the Group 1 Wootton Bassett Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes. That dazzling performance justified the pre-race confidence that the trainer had in his flying filly.

“Winning a Nunthorpe‘s wonderful. Everything was right, so it was great,” Easterby reflected.

Winter Power has triumphed three times at York in a year that has seen Easterby already hit the 130-winner mark. His powerful string is also closing in on £2million worth of prize money earned.

Easterby acknowledges that it has been his best-ever season since taking on the training licence from his father Peter in 1996.

He said: “We’ve had a good season. They’ve run a lot of times. We’ve expected a lot of the horses but they’ve run right up to it – it has been great.”

The race to land the Living North Top Jockey crown at York will also conclude on Saturday. So far, Tom Marquand has eight winners for the year and holds the lead by two from David Allan.

Easterby agrees that Allan has been an important part in the yard’s success in 2021 and said: “He has been riding really well.”

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