Life of Brian gets better and better as he makes it three from three
Brian The Snail may have to change his name by deed poll to Brian The Gazelle. Snail-like he ain't.
The three-year-old, whose title is a reference to sire and fellow Magic Roundabout character Zebedee, had no easy task conceding upwards of 9lb to eight contemporaries in a competitive 6f handicap.
Yet such is the regard in which he is held that he was backed in to 6-5 favourite -and such is his ability that he achieved the task comfortably, quickening smartly for a length-and-three-quarter success under William Buick.
Brian The Snail, unbeaten in two runs at two, was racing for the first time since being bought privately Godolphin and trainer Richard Fahey said: "I was delighted with that.
"He's quite chunky so we wanted to get a run into him. I've made no secret, we do like him and there is a race at Ascot on May 3 for three-year-olds for him. We have the Commonwealth Cup in mind."
Brian The Snail is a 16-1 chance for Royal Ascot Group 1 sprint with Sky Bet and Fahey admitted: "Coming here I thought he'd win.
"I thought he was well handicapped off 95, and there are not many horses you can say that about. He won't be rated that any more! He's pretty smart."
Fahey has a more immediate Group 1 target for Godolphin's Ribchester, who was third in last month's Dubai Turf at Meydan.
"He came back from Dubai in great nick," the trainer said. "He does look better now he's had a bit of a break. We'll get him ready for the Lockinge and we're very happy with him."
Snoano landed the feature £25,000 1m2f handicap and could have an even bigger prize in his sights this summer.
"I was very happy with that, though the race rather cut up and he was very fit," said trainer Tim Easterby.
"He needs a bit of juice in the ground but if the ground were right he could go for the John Smith's Cup. He has always been a lovely horse and this is his trip."
Pontefract's distinctive sloping parade ring, which is reckoned to have been testing the staying power of horses and their grooms for more than a century, is now much less likely to get confused with the north face of the Eiger.
It was rebuilt over the winter as part of a £475,000 project in which the fencing was also replaced and more extensive terracing built to offer better viewing for racegoers.
The new facility was opened officially by chairman Countess Halifax and managing director Norman Gundill said: "I have been part of the management team for 50 years and I have been coming all my life and I don't remember it being changed. I think it was as it was in 1916 when they first put it up.
"Until about three weeks ago it looked like a world War One battlefield but the groundstaff laid 800 square metres of turf in a day."
Re-measuring the track revealed it is 2m 136 yards round, rather than 2m 122 yards as previously thought, and also on the up is prize money, with a record £1.13million on offer here in 2017.
What a difference a year makes
The ground was just on the firm side of a good for a meeting which had to survive an inspection for waterlogging 12 months ago and was run on going that was officially heavy.
Gold claims third straight silver
Tuscan Gold finished second in the 2m2f Jamaican Flight Handicap, won by Uncle Bernie, for the third year in a row. James Sullivan was banned for three days (April 25-27) for careless riding on the winner.
The two legs of the 1m handicap went to Billy Roberts at 25-1 and Rockwood at 40-1 - but their trainers Richard Guest and Karen McLintock both insisted that success 'no surprise'.
Thought for the day
Don't be put off by the fact this was Pontefract on a Tuesday in April - it was a smart effort by Brian The Snail to win as he did.