WHO Dares Wins got up in the last strides to prevent a local win for Dubawi Fifty in the Betfair Exchange Northumberland Plate Handicap.
On a searingly hot afternoon at Newcastle, Alan King’s victor produced a stirring late run down the middle of the track to prevail by a head – with Proschema a further length away in third.
In-form jockey Tom Marquand was capping a brilliant week in the saddle, adding this 12/1 success to wins on 100/1 and 50/1 shots in the past five days.
Many in a packed crowd would doubtless have been delighted to have instead cheered home 14/1 chance Dubawi Fifty, representing Karen McLintock – who trains in Ingoe, only 20 miles from the Gosforth Park track.
But Marquand and Who Dares Wins made stealthy progress as Dubawi Fifty passed the pace-setting Speedo Boy and went for home – and in the end it was King’s charge whose timing was spot on, for a trainer who has endured a deeply frustrating time of late.
King said: “We’ve had a quiet spell – we’ve had a lot of placed horses, but I think we’ve gone 50 or 60 runners on the flat without a winner, so I needed that today. I was a bit worried early, because he couldn’t go the pace and he wasn’t as far forward as I hoped he’d be.”
The Barbury Castle trainer always knew, however, that stamina was a strength for the six-year-old dual-purpose gelding who won last year’s Cesarewitch Trial over two and a quarter miles at Newmarket.
“I knew he’d stay on, but I must admit I thought the line was going to come too soon,” he added. “At the furlong marker I thought ‘great, we’re going to get placed’, but Tom pulled him out and the horse ran on again.
“He’s been a marvellous horse for us. He’s been placed at Cheltenham and Aintree, and in three Chester Cups. He’ll be a very exciting novice chaser as well – that’s the plan for the autumn.
“I don’t think he’d be quick enough for the Ebor, but he could go for the Cesarewitch if we get a bit of dig in the ground.”
Marquand said: “This horse has had his big day coming for a long time. I was a 5lb claimer when I first won on him, and he’s come here and won a Northumberland Plate. I was always pretty confident I was going to get there.”
Henry Ponsonby, head of the ownership syndicate, was delighted to have secured Marquand’s services in the first place.
“I want to give a lot of credit to Richard Hannon, who allowed us the jockey today – and the aeroplane,” he said. “We’re getting the jockey back for the 5.55pm at Doncaster!
“He’s a great horse. He’s been placed at Cheltenham and Aintree and Royal Ascot – he’s wonderful.”
Supporters of several market leaders had only fleeting reason to hope.
Ante-post plunge Gibbs Hill appeared to be going well alongside Who Dares Wins in midfield – but that illusion quickly vanished as the 5/1 joint second-favourite lost his place dramatically and failed to finish.
Sole Irish challenger Stratum was backed into 9/2 favourite at the off in this edition of the famous handicap feature, but failed to make a telling impact – fading after racing prominently.
McLintock said of her brave runner-up: “I’m over the moon with him – he’s such a star and makes me so proud.
“He deserves to win a big one. To be beaten the same way as he was at Royal Ascot is tough, but one day he’ll get there I’m sure.
“Alan came over to me after the race and said, ‘I would say sorry, but I wouldn’t mean it!’.”
Invincible Army bounced back from his Royal Ascot “blip” to win the Group 3 Betfair Exchange Chipchase Stakes.
Just a week after failing to run to expectations when seventh behind the brilliant Blue Point in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, James Tate’s colt triumphed emphatically for the third time this season.
Invincible Army and PJ McDonald overcame a slow start to lead a field of six after two furlongs, and were never headed thereafter as they justified 10/11 favouritism by two and a quarter lengths from Laugh A Minute.
McDonald knew immediately Invincible Army was back in top form, and praised Tate for taking the bold decision to run again so quickly after the return to an all-weather surface had paid off.
“You could see with the naked eye that he was back on song – and that was the most important thing,” said the winning jockey.
“I have to give James a lot of credit, because it would have been very easy to wrap this horse up and back off him – looking for problems that weren’t there.
“It was a blip at Ascot. But this was a nice confidence-booster for him – and now the horse’s season is back on track we can go forward from here.”
Philip Robinson, representing winning owner Saeed Manana, said: “That was the way it should have been, and what we expected. He didn’t run his race at Ascot. He’s run moderate races there before, and it might just be that he’s not an Ascot horse.”
Connections will take their time before committing to Invincible Army’s next target.
“It will probably be a bit quick after two quick races to run in the July Cup, so we’ll probably wait,” said Robinson.
“If he goes back on the grass we want to make sure we get some cut in the ground, so we might wait for Haydock (Sprint Cup), or we might look at France (Prix Maurice de Gheest) if they get a bit of cut out there.
“We’ll have a chat with the owner, but at least he’s come back and shown his full capability again.”
Charlie Fellowes is excited to see what the future holds for Carnwennan following his dominant victory in the Betfair Exchange Northumberland Vase.
The four-year-old headed for Gosforth Park on a hat-trick following May wins at York and Chelmsford, and he was a well-backed 7/2 favourite to claim this £75,000 consolation for the Northumberland Plate.
Supporters of the market leader will have been content for much of the two-mile journey, a Carnwennan always travelled within himself in the hands of Stevie Donohoe.
Rare Groove – carrying the colours of ebullient local owner John Dance – briefly threatened to make a race of it inside the final two furlongs, but Carnwennan asserted late on and was good value for the winning margin of three and a half lengths.
Fellowes decided against making the long journey north from Newmarket, but was nevertheless delighted with the performance.
Speaking from home, Fellowes said: “I honestly don’t know how much improvement this horse has in him, because he’s so laid back he’s basically horizontal – which is exactly what you want for a stayer.
“It’s no good a horse being buzzed up when they’re going two miles, and he just relaxes and goes about the job so well.
“He’s clearly improved over the winter, and we came into the race today knowing he had pretty much every box ticked – he’s an improving stayer who handles the all-weather, and the big field was always going to suit him.”
Considering future plans, the trainer added: “I hadn’t really thought beyond today, to be honest. I’m sure the handicapper is going to have a good rap at him after today.
“I suppose it would be nice to end up in something like a Cesarewitch at the end of the year.”