William Haggas’ Hamish maintained his flawless record at York to land the John Smith’s Silver Cup Stakes.
The seven-year-old was the 4-9 favourite under Tom Marquand and brought to the Knavesmire two wins from two runs and a remarkably consistent record.
A past injury has prevented him from running on quick ground, but rain on Friday and a deluge on Saturday left conditions to his liking.
Throughout the course of the Group Three his chances did come under some doubt, however, as he looked further back than ideal heading into the home straight and had to throw down a challenge two furlongs from home.
Brian Ellison’s Tashkhan and Milton Harris’ Scriptwriter both battled all the way, but it was Hamish who prevailed when passing the post a head before the latter.
Maureen Haggas, assistant to her husband, said: “He’s a great horse and he got Tom out of a bit of trouble today, they just went too slowly and he likes a fast pace but it all went all right in the end and that’s the main thing!
“We’re restricted to how we campaign him because of the ground, he’s had problems along the way so we need to keep him to slow ground – it’s got to have soft in it really.
“He’s a pretty nice horse, as a four-year-old he ran in the Hardwicke and ran a really nice race.
“That was when he injured himself, he’s a classy horse. We’re lucky that at the age of seven, I suppose because we’ve been restricted, he hasn’t got many miles on the clock and he’s still going strong. Last year he was a good as ever.
“It’s hard when you don’t run them and they stay at home doing the same thing, but we’re lucky that he’s pretty straightforward. We know him so well now that we can gauge what we should and shouldn’t do with him.
“He’s just a lovely horse and we’re lucky to have him.”
The weather will guide connections as to where Hamish runs next. He holds entries for the King George, the Irish St Leger and the Ebor.
Haggas said: “He’s in the Irish St Leger, he’s in everything in case it rains! He handles really horrible conditions whereas a lot of the classier horses don’t so we will see what the weather does and go where the ground suits him.”
Andrew Balding’s Nymphadora was a ready winner of the John Smith’s City Walls Stakes.
The bay was one of only two fillies in the field for the Listed five-furlong contest, starting at 7-1 under Jason Watson.
She broke quickly from the stalls and ran prominently, leading from a furlong out and then keeping on well to come home a length and three-quarters ahead of Karl Burke’s Silky Wilkie.
“We knew from her recent form that she’d want some cut in the ground and there’s been plenty of rain here today and the last couple of days,” said Watson.
“It’s really got into the ground and she’s got course form, she won the Marygate.
“She’s a classy filly on her day and when conditions suit.
“You can see from the physique she’s got that she’s quite well balanced, she’s not the biggest but she’s very well balanced and nimble on her feet.
“There’s hopefully plenty more to come.”
Blue For You outdid last season’s effort to land the John Smith’s Racing Handicap for Danny Tudhope and David O’Meara.
A 7-2 chance, the chestnut was second in the race when beaten just half a length and is another with a fine record on the Knavesmire, having been in the top two three times from four efforts.
That record was further improved this time when he ran a patient race to pull clear in the final furlong and prevail by a comfortable three lengths.
“It was grand, he’s a really nice horse and he travelled very nicely today,” O’Meara said.
“At Ascot last time he boiled over and probably ran his race before he got to the start, but he likes it here and could come back for the big meeting and go Goodwood in between.”
Specific Times then took the John Smith’s Nursery Handicap at 11-1 for Jason Hart and Charlie Johnston, after which the John Smith’s Stayers’ Handicap went the way of Robert Johnson for Connor Beasley and Phil Kirby as the 11-4 favourite.