Racing: Fayr Jag foils Somnus streak in Easterby one-two.
As the market suggested they might, 11-8 second favourite Fayr Jag and 5-6 market leader Somnus led their four rivals home in the Hopeful Stakes here yesterday to give trainer Tim Easterby a one-two in the Listed contest.
But the outcome failed to tell the full story of the six-furlong event as Somnus, who finished a neck runner-up to his stablemate, had to fairly fly to get within range of the winner at the line.
Both were in the rear at the two-furlong marker with early leader Barrantes still five lengths clear. While Fayr Jag had a clear run from there, Somnus found his way impeded by eventual fourth Revenue.
However, even after that rival drifted away from the rails the Pivotal gelding took his time to respond to Ted Durcan's urgings and only in the final half-furlong did he pick up with any authority. That he did and that he came so close to grabbing the spoils is testament to his class but the winner also has that attribute in abundance, having shared success in Royal Ascot's Wokingham Stakes.
With Easterby electing to make the 30-minute journey to Thirsk from his Great Habton base, owner Jonathan Gill greeted the winner. He said: 'This horse doesn't do anything straightforward, there's got to be a quirk in there somewhere, hasn't there? He's dead-heated in the Wokingham and unfortunately got boxed in at Goodwood and these little races can turn out any way, can't they?'
Pat Eddery, the 11-time champion who recorded a 15-1 double on his last visit tothe July Course before retirement, steered the Richard Hannon-trained Why Dubai to a half-length victory in the opening Stan James EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes and completed the pair with Top Spec, who finished a neck up on Alpinepecial in the Stan James Nursery Handicap.
In the opener the first three home all had had a previous racecourse visit. Hannon's charge took the seven-furlong event a shade cosily, finishing half a length ahead of Baffle, with long-time leader Sahara Storm a further length and a quarter back in third. 'That was a good performance,' Hannon's son Richard said. 'She'll come on a bundle for that, but we'll see the best of her next year.'
Connections of Inglis Drever landed the Breheny Stakes (Showcase Handicap). The slow pace set by long-time leader Trueno, under Darryll Holland, meant jockeying for position and a rousting for several, including the winner. Seb Sanders brought Inglis Drever (5-6) home a length and three-quarters ahead of Trueno. Reveillez was four lengths adrift. The winner ran in the colours of Piers Pottinger, who has a number of jumpers with Nicky Henderson.
Fayr Jag, ridden by Willy Supple, beats stablemate Somnus (Ted Durcan) to take the Hopeful Stakes