Against The Grain grabs Ayr Silver Cup success
Against The Grain shows a clean pair of heels to his Ayr Silver Cup rivalsPICTURE: John Grossick
REPORT: AYR, Friday
LEN LUNGO may only have four Flat horses in training, but one of them, Against The Grain showed a clean pair of heels to 26 others to claim the John Smith's Silver Cup.
Not only was it his first-ever run over 6f, but the winner, who missed the whole of last season because of a knee problem, powered home under Joe Fanning by two and three-quarter lengths.
Harrison George finished second, Joseph Henry third and long-time far-side leader Bel Cantor back in fourth.
"He's always been a good horse and the key to him is the ground," said Lungo, a man, best known for his training of jumpers. "He's a horse who has won over seven furlongs, and the plan was to try him in this race, provided the ground wassoft and it's turned out be heavy. It's not rocket science. It took a seven-furlong horse to win today."
Lungo, whose racing company own the 16-1 winner, would love to bring him back next year in a bid to strike for gold.
"Maybe the handicapper will put him enough to get into the Gold Cup next year," said the jubilant trainer.
Karl Burke and owner-breeder Ray Bailey were likewise jubilant after Magic Cat had gained Listed honours in the 5f Harry Rosebery Stakes.
"He could be a very useful horse," said Burke of the Andrew Elliott-ridden winner, who had previously broken his maiden at Ripon.
"You never know for sure how they're going to handle these conditions, but he's done it well. He's the type to fill his frame next year and prove to be even better, but we'll have a think about this season and make a decision in a week or so. I'm sure he'd stand another race, and, as I feel there's a Group race in him somewhere, we might look at the Cornwallis."
Hey Up Dad came out ontop in the 7f maiden, producing a gritty performance under the in-form Tony Hamilton, which pleased Michael Dods, who trains the juvenile for John Blackburn.
"That'll probably be it for the season for him now. He's outstayed them and you'd expect him to get a mile and a half next year," said Dods.
Coleorton Choice is another two-year-old likely to now go into winter quarters on the back of a win. The Kevin Ryan-trained youngster, ridden by Neil Callan, followed-up his recentRipon success in the 6f nursery. "He's so laid-back, he's got a great attitude, but that'll probably do him for this year," said Ryan.
Hotham, runner-up in the 5f handicap 12 months ago, went one better in the hands of Jamie Moriarty, much tothe delight of Noel Wilson, who, asusual, went to the start with his strong-willed, stalls-shy gelding, and so missed the race.
"We had a bit of a fight with him to get him into the stalls today, but he's mad-fresh, which is how he needs to be," said the Flaxton trainer. "He'll now go to Pontefract next week under a penalty for a race he won last year after just missing out here."
Third home The Bear appeared to burst out of his stall fractionally before the remainder of the field. The stewards decided to take no action as they felt he did not gain any overall advantage. Bookmakers Blue Square paid out each-way on the fourth horse Highland Warrior.
Medici Pearl won her fourth race this season for Tim Easterby in the 1m handicap, and also provided stable-jockey David Allan with his 50th winner of the campaign. "She just loves the ground," said the trainer, after seeing Medici Pearl get the better of Blue Spinnaker, trained by his uncle Mick.
Sphinx, trained by Edwin Tuer, ran out an easy winner of the 2m handicap, ridden by Paul Mulrennan.
Magic Cat looked a smart colt in the making in the Harry Rosebery Stakes, while Against The Grain produced an impressive display in the Silver Cup.