THE late Sir Henry Cecil’s affinity with York continued on Saturday as Tiger Cliff secured a last-gasp and emotional victory in a thrilling renewal of the Betfred Ebor.
The legendary trainer was always a popular figure on the Knavesmire, and few will forget the scenes in the winner’s enclosure when Cecil welcomed back the mighty Frankel following his mesmerising performance in the Juddmonte International 12 months ago.
The great man may have passed away in June, but his widow Lady Cecil is keeping the show on the road at Warren Place and there were a few tears shed as Tiger Cliff charged home under Tom Queally to clinch Europe’s richest handicap.
While Frankel was scintillating in the Yorkshire sunshine a year earlier, the backdrop was slightly different this time around, with a deluge of rain leaving the turf sodden and a plethora of non-runners.
The mud was no problem for Tiger Cliff, however, with the 5-1 shot finding top gear in the final furlong to get up and beat the strong-travelling Genzy by half a length. Number Theory finished third for the second year in succession, with heavily-supported favourite Ted Veale fourth.
Scarborough-born Henry Ponsonby, who heads the owners’ syndicate for Tiger Cliff, said: “It’s very emotional as Sir Henry would have loved this and I think he had something to do with turning the taps on. He wasn’t a Yorkshire man but he really loved Yorkshire.
“We don’t know about plans. He’s in the Cesarewitch and there’s the stayers’ race on Champion Day. We’ll just play it by ear.”
Lady Cecil’s assistant, Mike Marshall, said: “Sir Henry loved York and the people loved him. To win this race is very special.”
Astaire (5-1) gave trainer Kevin Ryan a third Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes triumph with a game neck success over Wilshire Boulevard. Ryan said: “All my Gimcrack winners have been good horses. He will go straight to the Middle Park now. It’s too early to think about next year and that will look after itself.”
Ryan doubled up for the day as 3-1 shot Hot Streak made it two wins from as many starts in the Julia Graves Roses Stakes.
On a breathless afternoon, the Betfair Celebration Mile took centre stage on an excellent card at Goodwood.
Luca Cumani’s 11-8 favourite Afsare has always been a tricky customer, but he is a potent force when in the mood, as he showed by winning this Group Two prize comfortably by two lengths under Andrea Atzeni.
Amazing Maria (6-4 favourite) confirmed her wide-margin maiden win at the Glorious meeting was no fluke by repeating the performance in the Group Three Whiteley Clinic Prestige Stakes.
Royal Ascot hero War Command (8-11 favourite) got his season back on track in the Galileo EBF Futurity Stakes at the Curragh.
O’Brien said: “The Ascot horse is back. The boys will have a talk about it, but he’ll probably come back here for the National Stakes (September 15).”
Royal Diamond (7-2) is bang on course to defend his Gain Irish St Leger crown next month, after winning the Irish St Leger Trial for trainer-jockey Johnny Murtagh.
Marco Botti’s stable star Planteur (1-2 favourite) made a winning return from a break in the Winter Hill Stakes at Windsor. It was a first domestic Group-race victory for Frankie Dettori since returning from a six-month drugs ban at the end of May.
Cirrus Des Aigles suffered yet another defeat as Tres Blue netted yesterday’s Grand Prix de Deauville in a tight finish, while Godolphin’s Lockwood claimed the domestic feature of the day, the Supreme Stakes at Goodwood.