It WAS a case of better late than never for Muhaarar, who continued on the ascendancy with a dramatic victory in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket.
Just weeks after stamping his authority over his own age group in the inaugural running of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, the Charlie Hills-trained three-year-old once again delivered the goods on the big stage.
Timing his run to perfection, dual champion jockey Paul Hanagan galvanised one final lunge out of the 2-1 joint-favourite to get his mount up by a nose from the gallant Tropics. Hills said: “He will only get sharper the more he competes in these races. He’s in the Maurice de Gheest and the Haydock Sprint and there’s Ascot at the end of the year. He’s not in the Nunthorpe, so that’s out of calculations. We’ll put him back on a nice, level track now.”
Birchwood entered the picture for next year’s Qipco 2000 Guineas after he claimed an impressive victory in the bet365 Superlative Stakes.
Trainer Richard Fahey said of the Godolphin-owned colt: “He has entries in the Gimcrack and the National Stakes. We’re back where we thought we were with him.”
Rene Mathis (16-1) further enhanced his impressive course record when holding off a host of challengers to hand Fahey a quickfire double with a battling win in the bet365 Bunbury Cup.
Arod, meanwhile, could face crack performers Solow and Gleneagles after a superb all-the-way win in the Group Two Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile at Ascot.
Trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam admitted he may now have to take the plunge and seriously consider the Group One Qatar Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood for his talented four-year-old, as long as conditions are suitably fast.
Rod Millman’s Master Carpenter came good in the 56th John Smith’s Cup at York on a day jockey Phillip Makin secured four winners on the card.
Always well positioned, Master Carpenter was strongly pressed in the final throes of the extended ten-furlong feature and stuck to his guns to see off long-time leader Kelinni by a neck, having led two out.
There was only one story yesterday – the incredible return of Brian Toomey at Southwell.
He may not have got the win he craved on his fairytale comeback but the inspirational jockey was just glad to be back in the saddle two years on from a fall at Perth that left him dead for six seconds. Resuscitated but given only a three per cent chance of survival, Toomey, 26, was last month issued with a licence after he was thrust on to the sidelines following the frightful spill from Solway Dandy on 4 July, 2013.
The rider was placed in an induced coma in the high dependency unit of Ninewells Hospital, in Dundee, for two weeks, and had surgery to reduce swelling on his brain, including the removal of part of his skull. He remained in hospital for 157 nights, but recovered to fulfil every criteria needed from the British Horseracing Authority.
Toomey’s first ride back saw him get the leg-up on Phil Kirby’s 11-year-old Kings Grey in the betbonus.com Claim Your Free Bets Now Novices’ Selling Hurdle and all appeared to be going to plan as he led at the second flight.
Jumping well from there, it looked like the odds-on favourite would give the racing world the result it wanted, but he seemed to lose his action and was eased and eventually pulled up before the home straight.
Toomey said: “Being alive is near enough a fairytale, never mind being back riding. It’s brilliant to be back, but I am glad today is out of the way.”
A notable footnote came at Chantilly in France, where 2000 Guineas runner-up Territories put in a high-class performance to land the Prix Jean Prat for Andre Fabre.