Cun­ning plan pays div­i­dends as Gos­den wins Ebor

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - SPORT - RAC­ING CORRESPONDENT Email:­ Twitter: @Opin­ionYP Tom Rich­mond

JOHN GOS­DEN’S qual­i­ties as a cham­pion race­horse trainer are al­ready well-known as he closes in on a third ti­tle fol­low­ing a land­mark Ebor fes­ti­val which yielded five high-pro­file win­ners from just 10 runners.

Yet, while the 67-year-old is for­tu­nate to train many equine cham­pi­ons at his dis­posal, he proved him­self to be a mas­ter tac­ti­cian when Mun­ta­haa beat stable­mate Week­ender in the £500,000 Sky Bet Ebor.

Af­ter Mun­ta­haa was given an unfavourable wide draw in stall 21 for Europe’s rich­est Flat hand­i­cap, it was the ever-thought­ful Gos­den who ad­vised Jim Crow­ley – the former cham­pion jockey – to stay on the outer and cut in at the end of the back straight.

It worked. It gave Mun­ta­haa time to set­tle be­fore join­ing the race proper and surg­ing past top-weight Week­ender who had burst clear un­der Frankie Det­tori af­ter Stra­tum, the favourite, en­coun­tered se­ri­ous trou­ble in run­ning.

“On Thurs­day I walked the track and stood where the gate would be and I thought, you know, you can run four fur­longs straight here,” said Gos­den who has over 3,000 win­ners to his name and who was cham­pion trainer in both 2012 and 2015.

“I told Jim be­fore­hand, I had this Baldrick plan, it’s a bit mad. Stay out there and re­lax. He can be quite a tense horse, you re­mem­ber when he ran in the St Leger two years ago he was very keen.

“It worked per­fectly. It is like he dropped in at a mile-and-quar­ter start. I think it made quite a dif­fer­ence to the horse. He has run a blinder, and his work the other day was sen­sa­tional.”

The vic­tory pro­vided im­me­di­ate rec­om­pense for Crow­ley who was dis­con­so­late af­ter su­per­star sprinter Bat­taash could only fin­ish a dis­ap­point­ing fourth in the Nun­thorpe Stakes 24 hours pre­vi­ously.

“We could have had egg on our face,” said Crow­ley, who be­gan his ca­reer rid­ing Na­tional Hunt horses for Bin­g­ley train­ing leg­ends Sue and Har­vey Smith. “It was Mr Gos­den’s plan to stay out wide be­cause he’s quite a keen horse and he works very well on his own and he prefers to have his own space.

“I was drawn out wide – he had a car park badge – but we man­aged to go for­ward and get into a nice rhythm. I was lucky to get in on the bend. It was a very easy race to ride, re­ally.

“I was al­ways con­fi­dent in the race. My only con­cern was not to get there too soon. He has al­ways shown plenty of abil­ity but he wouldn’t be the eas­i­est horse. He can tend to take a tug with you and some­times when he does that he tends to down tools.”

Owned by Sheikh Ham­dan Al Mak­toum, the Mel­bourne Cup could be the long-term tar­get – pre­vi­ous Ebor win­ners Heart­break City and Na­keeta, who was un­placed on Satur­day at York, have won with dis­tinc­tion in Aus­tralia.

With the trainer’s ti­tle de­ter­mined on prize money, Gos­den earned over £1m at York and has now amassed nearly £5.2m this sea­son with an out-of-sorts Ai­dan O’Brien a dis­tant sec­ond on £3.7m.

And this is de­spite En­able, last year’s Arc heroine, still be­ing on the side­lines and Cracks­man, the top mid­dle dis­tance horse, not be­ing the force of old.

As well as the Ebor, Roar­ing Lion proved to be a cham­pion when run­ning away with the Jud­dmonte In­ter­na­tional un­der Oisin Mur­phy; Stradi­var­ius earned con­nec­tions a £1m bonus for land­ing the Lons­dale Cup and Lah Ti Dar is now vy­ing for favouritism for next month’s St Leger at Don­caster fol­low­ing a classy vic­tory un­der Frankie Det­tori.

While Gos­den was the Ebor’s fes­ti­val’s lead­ing trainer, Det­tori pipped the afore­men­tioned Mur­phy to the rider’s prize af­ter land­ing the City of York Stakes on Ex­pert Eye.

There was suc­cess for Great Habton trainer Tim Easterby’s whose Eeh Bah Gum, rid­den by Jamie Gorm­ley, won the apprentice hand­i­cap while Danny Tud­hope – The York­shire Post’s Satur­day colum­nist – took the Stren­sall Stakes for a third time courtesy of the win of Lord Glit­ters for North York­shire trainer David O’Meara

Like the Ebor win­ner, Lord Glit­ters could be head­ing over- seas. “He saw it out well,” said O’Meara. “There was a small con­cern about go­ing up a lit­tle bit in trip whether firstly he’d set­tle and se­condly would he stay, but he did it well and he was well on top at the end.

“He’s a very good horse. He’s been un­lucky not to have won a Group One in this coun­try. The Wood­bine Mile (in Toronto) next month is on his agenda and then af­ter that we’ll see. He’s gone well at As­cot, so you’d like to think the QEII in the mid­dle of Oc­to­ber would suit him well.”


THUMBS UP: Jim Crow­ley cel­e­brates on Mun­ta­haa af­ter win­ning the Sky Bet Ebor Hand­i­cap, a fifth win from 10 horses at York’s Ebor fes­ti­val for trainer John Gos­den.

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