Chester Friday

IT’S safe to say that Chester’s big meeting has been dominated by Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore, and the pair capped it off with a remarkable win in the Chester Cup with Cleveland, who was racing beyond a mile and a quarter for the first time in his short career.

The 6/1 shot raced in midfield, as favourite Coltrane (Andrew Balding/David Probert) enjoyed the perfect tow through the race on the heels of Torcello, a horse who once represented the same connections.

Coltrane made his move as the field swung for home, and it looked like David Probert’s move would be decisive, but Ryan Moore knew just what he had underneath him, and Cleveland’s tactical speed allowed him to draw alongside with under a furlong to go.

Coltrane rallied when joined, but there was plenty in Cleveland’s tank, and he found enough to run out a clever winner by a neck, with the unlucky Rajinsky (Ian Williams/Harry Davies), who was squeezed up as he tried to go up the inside of the weakening leader, another length and a quarter back in third.

John Queally’s Arcadian Sunrise and Dermot Weld’s 2021 winner Falcon Eight filled the next two spots.

Stoute’s Solid Stone

The defection of Al Aasy meant that the Group 2 Huxley Stakes took less winning than anticipated, but it gave Sir Michael Stoute’s Solid Stone a chance to get back on the progressive path.

He ran out a convincing three-length winner under man of the moment Ryan Moore, followed home by Certain Lad (Mick Channon/Ben Curtis).

Solid Stone looked in less than co-operative mood beforehand, but that changed the second the stalls opened, as he burst out to lead in the early strides. Moore was then content to let the free-running Majestic Dawn take over, but kept close to that rival, and when the latter began to flag entering the straight, Solid Stone kicked for home.

Even at that stage, Frankie Dettori had been sending out distress signals on Megallan, and he too dropped away tamely.

The winner ended 2021 with a brace of Group 3 wins at Windsor and Newbury, and he looked at least as good as ever on his domestic return.

Ayr Tuesday

Elliott’s landmark

A WORKADAY fixture at Ayr on Tuesday proved to be of greater significance as Gordon Elliott reached the tally of 2,000 British and Irish winners with the victory of Ted Hastings (Sean Bowen) in the opening maiden hurdle.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Elliott made a quick start on his third century, as Hollymount and Bowen took the mares novice at prohibitive odds, while John McConnell enhanced his excellent record in Scotland as Hereditary Rule (Daryl Jacob) landed the three-mile handicap chase on the card.