ROYAL EN­JOYS HAPPY END­ING Golden Gos­den fin­ishes on high

Daily Star Sunday - - PUZZLE ACTOR - ■ by JA­SON HEAVEY

ROYAL LINE capped John Gos­den’s remarkable sea­son with a record sixth vic­tory for the trainer in Don­caster’s November Hand­i­cap.

Gos­den’s Group One ex­ploits home and abroad with su­per­stars such as En­able and Cracks­man have been a high-pro­file theme through­out the sum­mer.

It was there­fore an ap­pro­pri­ate cul­mi­na­tion in the Marathon­bet­spon­sored November Hand­i­cap, on the fi­nal day of the turf cam­paign that Royal Line put be­hind him his eclipse as favourite 12 months ago.

He scooted clear at 9-1 this time un­der Robert Havlin to beat Hughie Mor­ri­son’s 33-1 shot Not So Sleepy and Ian Wil­liams’ Reshoun by one and a half lengths and a head. Birds Of Prey was a neck fur­ther back in fourth, rid­den by Me­gan Ni­cholls for her fa­ther, Paul.

Gos­den, who had failed to add to his record-equalling fifth November Hand­i­cap suc­cess for the past six years, took the fam­ily tally to nine – adding to his fa­ther Towser’s three win­ners.

He has also put him­self one ahead of Sam Hall, whose five wins came in the days when the race was known as the Manch­ester November Hand­i­cap

DONJUAN TRI­UMPHANT ★

de­liv­ered a poignant vic­tory at Don­caster as Vichai Sri­vad­dhanaprabha’s colours re­turned to the win­ner’s en­clo­sure for the first time since the Leicester City owner’s death.

Trainer Andrew Bald­ing

(right) was clearly emo­tional when he was re­flect­ing on the horse’s suc­cess in the Listed Marathon­bet Official Global Part­ner Of Manch­ester City Wentworth Stakes. and run on the other side of the Pen­nines.

From the mo­ment Havlin and Royal Line headed Birds Of Prey two fur­longs out, it was clear the four-year-old was a class apart in this tra­di­tion­ally com­pet­i­tive mile-and-a-half event.

In Gos­den’s ab­sence, Havlin was happy to pay tribute to the master trainer’s skills.

He said: “We’ve seen how he can turn horses out af­ter a long lay-off – and then we saw En­able again at the Breed­ers’ Cup.”

Royal Line had run only twice since fin­ish­ing sev­enth at his first at­tempt in this race.

“He was rated 96 but he was a three-year-old and this race doesn’t have good stats for three­year-olds,” added Havlin.

“We did fancy him then but he was a lot busier last year.

“He’s won it off 105 to­day and I hope we keep him for next year.”

Havlin had plenty in hand, even though Royal Line was giv­ing up to a stone to all but two of his ri­vals.

He added: “I thought jumps slow, I’ll slot in.

“I had to keep let­ting him go for­ward, and even­tu­ally found a spot one off the fence.” if he

The five-year-old, hugely ★

con­sis­tent at up to Group One level but with­out a pre­vi­ous win this sea­son, saved the best un­til last on this fi­nal day of the

Flat turf cal­en­dar as he stayed on best un­der James Doyle.

The well-backed

2-1 favourite was only the third do­mes­tic run­ner for King Power Rac­ing since his owner’s death two weeks ago in the he­li­copter crash which claimed his life and those of four oth­ers. King Power’s ★

Hero Hero was sec­ond for Bald­ing on his de­but in a maiden race an hour ear­lier – but Donjuan Tri­umphant made no mis­take, beat­ing Hey Jonesy by a head in the six-fur­long event.

NOVEMBER CHAM­PION: Royal Line

The trainer was solemn as ★

he con­sid­ered the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing vic­tory.

“It puts horse rac­ing and ★

the triv­i­al­ity of other things in life into per­spec­tive,” he said.

“It was a huge loss not just ★

to his fam­ily and fam­i­lies of other peo­ple in­volved in the crash but to the whole King Power fam­ily. He was a tremen­dous guy, as has been well recorded and re­ported, and will be sadly missed.”

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