Quickthorn refuses to give way in Grand Cup victory

Quickthorn has proved a real money-spinner for owner Lady Blyth in the past few seasons and he took his earnings over the half-million mark when landing the Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Grand Cup Stakes at York.

In typically gritty fashion, the Hughie Morrison-trained six-year-old led after three furlongs of the mile-and-three-quarter Listed contest under Jason Hart.

Despite looking like a sitting duck throughout the last half-mile, he had plenty in reserve to fend off market leader Israr and score by a length and a half.

Morrison was cautious about running the crack stayer on quicker ground, but having his hand reluctantly forced, admitted the 7-4 second-favourite coped with the surface at a track on which he was so brilliant in last year’s Lonsdale Cup.

“I think what York do is produce level ground,” said the East Ilsley handler. “You didn’t see any dust kicking up today.

“A lot of horses, jointy horses, you can get away with level ground. They can get jarred up, but you don’t injure them.

“When it is rough fast ground, that is when you can get problems with these horses.

“He likes a bit of cut in the ground and you want to do right by the horse.

“At least he’s won a stakes race this year. He drilled them really. He outstayed the second, I think. He went away in the last 20 yards.”

Quickthorn is set to follow a similar path to last season after recording the eighth success of his 21-race career.

“I would imagine we will look at the (Group Two) Prix Maurice de Nieuil, a race which he won last year at Longchamp, then I think back to York. Then he deserves a rest, I think.

“I’d love the handicapper to drop him 3lb and then we’d go to the Ebor. I suspect that won’t happen, though!

“I thought Jason gave him a really good ride today. He let the horse find his rhythm, not force him.

“Over a mile and six, given that two miles is his trip really, he found the right rhythm.

“I thought he was good and I thought he was going to get swallowed up several times, but he just kept going.”

Quinault (15-2) made it a five-timer for Stuart Williams, taking the Oakmere Homes Supporting Macmillan Sprint Handicap.

Connor Planas’ mount had a head to spare over Washington Heights as he continued his upward curve.

His winning spree started in a lowly Class 6 handicap at Chelmsford in April, and after wins at Brighton and two more at Newmarket, he overcame his biggest test thus far with flying colours.

Though entered in the Palace of Holyrood House Stakes at Royal Ascot next week, he is unlikely to make a quick return.

Explaining his improvement, Williams said: “He was in the Horses In Training Sale after Godolphin bought him from the breeze-ups for quite a lot of money.

“He was very difficult to settle and basically ran away in his only race for them.

“He was being awkward at home. I think they gelded him and tried to start with him again, but he was still being awkward, so they put him in the sales – rightly, in my opinion. They have so many good horses, they don’t want one who is being a pain in the backside.

“We quite liked him, so we decided to take a punt on him. We spent two months on the treadmill with him and took baby steps, trying to settle him.

“It was the same in his first two races for us, tearing away. He was keen early and not relaxing at all, but we have just taken things very quietly and now it is paying off. He is repaying us handsomely.

“He is getting better and it was a big day for him today, with a big crowd, walking across the middle of the track and it was a big field.

“His run at Newmarket helped him, but it wasn’t like the hustle and bustle of York.”

Options are no open for the son of Oasis Dream, although a trip to the Royal meeting looks doubtful.

“It is very unlikely he will run next week. It was just to tick a box in case we didn’t manage to get to the races,” Williams added. “He is in the Bunbury Cup and he’ll definitely get seven furlongs, no problem. Seven furlongs on the July course might suit him.

“But I might try to find another three-year-old race for him before we step him up to older company.”

Saeed bin Suroor advertised the good form of his yard ahead of Royal Ascot when Wild Lion (8-1) took the seven-furlong Sky Bet Handicap by half a length under Kieran O’Neill.

“It was a good performance,” said the trainer. “I think the cheekpieces may have helped him today.”

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