Victory a bridge too far for royal runner shot down by Cannon
It's not only on the card table a king beats a queen, and it worked out that way in the juvenile hurdle too – but only just.
The Queen's Forth Bridge looked all set to make a winning debut over jumps, leading from the off under in-form Brian Hughes and still a couple of lengths clear at the last flight.
But that was reckoning without Alan King's Coeur De Lion, who threw down a strong challenge on the run-in and led close home for a neck victory.
"He jumped the last well and stuck his neck out when he got upsides," jockey Tom Cannon said of the winner. "He obviously likes this ground."
Flat winner North Bridge was having his first run for Charlie Longsdon, who said: "He didn't deserve to get beaten. He jumped big and green, he's a lovely horse, a horse for the future not the short term."
Had he held on, North Bridge would have been the Queen's first winner at Wetherby since Shining Strand. His success in May 2005 earned the owner a free night's stay at the Nag's Head pub in Pickhill – which she is thought to have not yet taken up.
The winner was making his hurdling debut for Mark Walford, who said: "It has taken a while to get his jumping right and he was still novicey today, there is a lot of room for improvement. He will get a lot slicker so there is more to come."
Walford has 15 or 16 jumpers at his North Yorkshire yard and rates Craggaknock one of his two 'standouts', along with recent course winner Lough Salt who is due to return to Wetherby on December 3.
But Hughes still made it 29 winners for November by riding a double on Kalaniti (division two of the novice hurdle) and Cooking Fat (2m3f handicap hurdle).
Kalaniti is trained by former jump jockey Chris Grant, who said: "Things have changed a lot since my day, I never rode 100 winners in a season and there was no Sunday racing and no summer racing, but Brian is riding very well, he is very professional and a very good lad."
Pieces of silver
Backing Pam Sly's runners blind at Wetherby over the last five seasons would have returned a profit and her Actinpieces bounced back to form to land the novice chase under Gina Andrews.
"She was in season last time she ran so that's why she didn't run very well," said the trainer.
Odds-on favourite Zeroeshadesofgrey was beaten nine lengths into second and trainer Neil King said: "I was disappointed with him but he jumped better today and we will definitely try again over fences and he will probably go to the next meeting at Doncaster. He loves that track."
Thought for the day
The best was saved for last as the classiest horse on the card was probably the good-looking filly Petticoat Tails, who took the bumper in fine style.