Impressive Spirit Jersey-bound

  • Last Updated: May 14 2014, 18:00 BST

A review of the rest of the action from day one of the Dante meeting at York, where That Is The Spirit starred for David O'Meara.

That Is The Spirit looked different class to his rivals in the three-year-old handicap
That Is The Spirit looked different class to his rivals in the three-year-old handicap

A trip to Royal Ascot could be on the agenda for That Is The Spirit after he confirmed himself an exciting prospect in the Conundrum HR Consulting Stakes.

The Invincible Spirit gelding made a good impression with a winning debut at Doncaster at the end of March and was the 5/2 favourite pitched into a competitive handicap with top weight.

The three-year-old, running for last year's leading York trainer David O'Meara, was quickly away and soon bowling along in front in the hands of Daniel Tudhope.

It was clear early in the home straight his rivals were struggling to bridge the gap and although he showed signs of his inexperience in the closing stages, That Is The Spirit was good value for his length and a half victory over Shot In The Sun.

O'Meara said: "He concerned me a little bit today as I thought he'd travelled almost too well and was in front a long way out.

"This is only the second run of his life, but he looks pretty exciting.

"Initially he got a mark of 85 and I thought that was workable. Subsequently some horses that finished behind him (at Doncaster) ran well and they moved him to 90.

"He surprised me how well he won at Doncaster. He won without coming off the bridle really.

"The obvious race at Royal Ascot would be the Jersey Stakes, if he was good enough for it.

"This is part of his education and he's come through it well.

"He's got a lot of natural ability and looks potentially the classiest horse we've had."

Former National Hunt jockey Peter Niven saddled his first winner at York as Clever Cookie (7/1) maintained his unbeaten record on the Flat in the Stakes, the first race of the new season on the Knavesmire.

A smart hurdler, winning at Grade Two level before disappointing in the Scottish Champion at Ayr, his only previous experience on the level came in a Doncaster maiden last month.

He travelled through the race beautifully for Graham Lee, defying his inexperience in such a competitive handicap to claim Tres Coronas and Awake My Soul inside the final furlong and win by three-quarters of a length and the same.

Niven is now thinking of a return to York later in the season, with the John Smith's Cup and the Ebor under consideration.

"He needs another run to qualify for the big handicaps," said Niven.

"I think I'll find another race for him and then give him a break before looking for a target.

"We might come back here for the John Smith's Cup and I mentioned the Ebor for him 16 months ago.

"He got no cover at Ayr which was why he ran so poorly, other than that he's never run a bad race.

"I suppose we've blown his handicap mark, but you have to be high just to get in them these days."

  • A couple enjoy the sunshine before the start of the opening day of the Dante meeting at York
  • Clever Cookie (second left) wins the opening race of the 2014 Dante meeting at York under Graham Lee
  • Mick Easterby's Aetna (stands' side) shows a fine burst of speed to take the big sprint handicap under Graham Gibbons
  • Kieren Fallon produced Madame Chiang with a well-timed run to win the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes
  • Madame Chiang was cut to 12/1 by Sky Bet for the Investec Oaks at Epsom following her hard-fought success
  • Maarek gave weight and a beating to his rivals in the Duke of York Stakes
  • Racegoers enjoy the action from York
  • That Is The Spirit's handicap days appear to be over after he scored under top weight in the three-year-old contest
  • David Barron and Graham Gibbons kept up their excellent run of form with Mignolino in the juveniles' novice event

Veteran Yorkshire trainer Mick Easterby usually finds one for the big meetings on the Knavesmire and this time it was Aetna who came with a late rattle to win the Infinity Tyres Stakes under Graham Gibbons.

Outpaced early on, Gibbons tracked Kevin Ryan's Blaine on the near-side rail and joined Baccarat deep inside the final furlong.

The soft-ground lover found a decent turn of foot and put behind her a dismal run at Beverley last time out to beat Baccarat by a length and a quarter as the 7/1 co-favourite.

Blaine was a neck away in third with Fast Shot fourth.

Easterby had threatened to retire at the Ayr Gold Cup meeting last year but is still going strong.

"The licence is still in my name but David (son) does as much as me, we fall out every day but the next morning it's forgotten," said Easterby.

"It was fast ground at Beverley and she only just got away with it today.

"It was a great ride, he said she didn't want to race today but he didn't rush her and she came home well."

David Eastbery said: "There are 365 days in a year and for five of those he wants to give up and it just so happens he spoke to the press on one of those days last year.

"He regretted it as soon as he said it.

"I have one more module of my trainer's course to complete but I'm in no rush to do it.

"Why take the ball off an 83-year-old if he's enjoying it."

David Barron's Mignolino (5/1) was an impressive winner of the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes to give Gibbons a double.

Streets Of Newyork (12/1) got the better of Pilgrims Rest to win the closing Coopers Marquees Stakes for Brian Ellison and Robert Winston.