DR MARWAN Koukash had already achieved his major racing ambition by winning the StanJames.com Chester Cup five years ago, but he celebrated his second victory in the race with equal relish.
The local owner has a long-running love-affair with the May meeting, instructing his numerous trainers to prime his horses for it, and Richard Fahey had Address Unknown (12-1) spot-on for his first start for the yard.
Koukash’s retained jockey Jamie Spencer was intending to partner the withdrawn Montaser, and picked the ex-Ian Williams six-year-old over three others in the valuable staying handicap.
Top-class hurdler and 7-2 joint-favourite Countrywide Flame was right at the front throughout and looked to have made the decisive move turning for home, but his stride began to shorten and Address Unknown pulled past. He eventually held on by half a length from the closing Ingleby Spirit to complete a famous one-two for Fahey’s Yorkshire stable.
Koukash said: “I’m absolutely delighted. When we lost Montaser, I thought that was my luck gone, but Jamie gave this horse a fantastic ride.
“Richard has done extremely well with the horse over the past couple of months. I’m over the moon. I’ve been in racing five or six years and the only thing I wanted to do was win the [Chester] Cup again. To be honest, this means more to me than if I were to win the Ascot Gold Cup.”
Two races later, Sir Alex Ferguson was narrowly denied a poignant victory on the day he announced his retirement.
Butterfly McQueen very nearly put the seal on a dramatic day when the Andrew Balding-trained three-year-old, whom Ferguson partly owns, finished an honourable second in the Boodles Diamond Maiden Stakes.
At Kelso, De Boitron booked his ticket for next month’s Aviva City of Perth Gold Cup after supplying Sam Twiston-Davies with his first winner at the track.
Ferdy Murphy’s nine-year-old was scoring for the first time since 2010 as he outstayed Beneficial Reform by three-lengths in the Bedmax Handicap Chase (for the Haddington Jubilee Cup).
Murphy said: “He’s a good-ground horse and conditions made all the difference. Sam rode him over 2m 4f at Ayr and said this longer trip helped and that he was always travelling easily.
“I’ve come across some good jockeys in my time but I’d say Sam is definitely a future champion. It’s everything about him, from the way he rides to the way he handles owners and I’ll be using him when he’s available.”
Lucinda Russell and James Ewart both got off the mark for the season with Bobble Hat Bob and Enex Canaletto respectively, while Jack The Gent battled home for Barry Keniry in the Aver Chartered Accountants Novices’ Chase.