Haggas and Doyle forge strong Bond to claim all-weather riches in Classic
The afternoon may have belonged to the French courtesy of a big-race hat-trick, but there was plenty of resistance from the William Haggas stable as the yard took two prizes including the main race of the meeting, the Betway Easter Classic.
Victory Bond ensured that since its inception five years ago the Easter Classic has always fallen to a favourite, as the 3-1 joint market leader stretched clear by half a length under James Doyle.
Runner-up in the Winter Derby Trial last time out, the Bloomsbury Stud-owned five-year-old had been pleasing connections at home in the build-up, with Haggas's wife and assistant Maureen better placed than most to judge how the horse would fare.
"The last two weeks he's really come back to himself and he's come here in really good form," she said. "I've ridden him for just over a year and he's such a star. He's my mate and a pleasure to train."
Winter Derby winner Master The World bagged second, with Jeremy Noseda's Abe Lincoln back in third.
Doyle has been a big hit with the Haggas yard this year, and earlier the jockey had teamed up with Diagnostic, who won the 7f Fillies' and Mares' race.
A tendency to be too keen to get on with things had cost Diagnostic on her last two starts, but the filly was cool, calm and collected as came with a late burst to win by a length.
Maureen Haggas said: "There was a nice fast pace, which suited her, and she relaxed really well.
"The guys have done a really good job with her at home and she's in a much better place than she was at the backend of last year."
A turf campaign awaits for the Cheveley Park-owned four-year-old, with black type the goal.
Classy and consistent Knight scores again
Corinthia Knight has rapidly developed into a flagbearer for Archie Watson and the sprinter claimed his biggest prize to date in the three-year-old conditions stakes.
Now a winner of seven all-weather starts from nine attempts, Corinthia Knight was welcomed home by his enthusiastic owners from the Ontoawinner syndicate after a half-length success under Oisin Murphy.
Watson is now looking at a turf campaign and said: "He's a very good sprinter and he's getting better.
"We'll look towards the turf and the options will probably be the Prix Texanita at Maisons-Laffitte, which is a Group 3 over five and a half furlongs, and the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot over six and then we can make a call whether Royal Ascot is the right idea for him."
Meehan in charge with Take The Helm
Brian Meehan got his year off and running as Take The Helm gave him a first winner of 2018 in the 7f apprentice handicap.
The five-year-old is a Lingfield regular and was winning at the track for the third time, scoring by three-quarters of a length under Adam McNamara.
It was McNamara's first ride for Meehan and the trainer has been impressed with the young rider.
He said: "He came down last week and rode him in work and gave him an excellent ride with a lot of confidence."
On Take The Helm, Meehan added: "We'll get him back on the turf for some nice handicaps in the spring over seven furlongs."
Meydan the focus
Godolphin were well clear in the leading owner category for the championships but they had no runners on the Finals day card. There will be no shortage of Godolphin runners in Meydan on Saturday for Dubai World Cup night.
You had to admire the spirit of local singers InChoir, who provided the musical entertainment during the meeting. Greeted with a rainy backdrop, the choir performed Electric Light Orchestra's hit Mr Blue Sky in a bid to brighten up proceedings.
Thought for the day
Widening the net to bring in France for Finals day paid off handsomely with three winners and the presence of an eight-strong team from France and Ireland – the largest to date – shows how the Championships have developed over five years.