Irish raider La Hacienda stuck to her guns to plunder the JenningsBet Northumberland Vase at Newcastle.
Turning out just eight days after finishing third in a Listed event at Down Royal, Matthew Smith’s mare was sent off at 11-1 for the £75,000 consolation for the prestigious Northumberland Plate.
Ridden by top apprentice Harry Davies, the six-year-old could be spotted travelling well for much of the extended two-mile journey and after moving to the front, she knuckled down to see off the late challenge of Mostly Sunny by half a length.
“She ran well in the Listed race last week after being off the track for a long time. We said we’d chance our arm over here and it went to plan,” said co-owner Lee Smyth.
“We were always confident with her and Matthew always has her very well. He was keen to run over two miles, it’s a fantastic place over here and it’s fantastic prize-money as well.
“The main thing you want is for them to be competitive and come home safe. We know that even if she doesn’t break well she can stay with the pace and Harry got her home.
“We knew a bit about Harry, he’s very highly rated and he’s proven why there.”
Batal Dubai (7-2 joint-favourite) and Oisin Murphy got up in the shadow of the post to secure top honours in the JenningsBet Festival Handicap.
Animate looked home for all money after taking a couple of lengths out of the field, but Murphy timed his challenge to perfection in the Middleham Park silks to prevail by a head.
“I came down the stands side rail and I needed some luck, but I was on a really capable animal and it was a good bid of placing by Harry and Roger Charlton,” said the three-time champion jockey.
“I thought with a bit of luck I’d win the whole way because he went to the start sleepy, I didn’t have to fight him at any stage and he’s a horse with a future.”
Murphy completed a double on the card aboard 5-2 favourite Nobel in the Education Network Handicap.
Already a dual winner, Andrew Balding’s striking chestnut failed to fire on his seasonal bow at York, but showed his true colours in the north east with a dominant all-the-way win.
Murphy added: “Andrew’s done a terrific job with him. He needed the run at York and got a little bit tired. This was the perfect spot for him and today he was never in any danger.”
Richard Fahey saddled a one-two in the seven-furlong Pertemps Network Handicap, with Adeb (13-2) narrowly outpointing stablemate Zip.
“I said to Oisin (Orr, rider of Zip) on the way in I would have been an unlucky loser really. I couldn’t get much room anywhere, he was going so well but I couldn’t get any gaps,” said winning jockey Billy Garritty.
“When he got out he chased down another good horse of Richard’s. It’s a good result for everybody involved and good for the team.”
The Roger Varian-trained Markakol justified cramped odds in the Pertemps EBF Novice Stakes.
A beaten favourite when sixth on his racecourse debut at Sandown last month, the Starspangledbanner colt rewarded those who kept the faith with a one-and-three-quarter lengths success as the 6-4 market leader in the hands of Andrea Atzeni.
“When he ran at Sandown he jumped out of the stalls very quickly and was the last horse off the bridle and it just looked like he got tired,” said the Italian rider.
“Speaking to Roger before the race today, he was keen for me to try and do it the other way round this time, give the horse a chance and ride him to finish. The key was to switch him off and it worked out.
“I think the hood helped him relax a little bit more. To be fair to the horse he’s got a very good mind, he’s just not short of speed.”
The concluding Racing Welfare Handicap went to Richard Hannon’s Lexington Night, a second winner on the card for jockey Neil Callan following his earlier Northumberland Plate triumph on Calling The Wind.