Rockingham Stakes report: Aberama Gold strikes at York

Trainer Keith Dalgleish
Trainer Keith Dalgleish

Aberama Gold ran out an authoritative winner of the coral.co.uk Rockingham Stakes at York.

A field of 12 juveniles went to post for the six-furlong Listed contest and much of the pre-race attention was on the previously unbeaten Lampang, who was an even-money chance to complete his hat-trick for Tim Easterby.

However, the warning signs were out for favourite backers from an early stage as a tardy start immediately put him on the back foot and he never threatened to land a telling blow.

Turning out just seven days after finishing fourth at 66/1 in the Redcar Two Year Old Trophy, the Keith Dalgleish-trained Aberama Gold was a 10/1 shot in the hands of Shane Gray and travelled powerfully for much of the way.

Ventura Lightning came from out of the pack to throw down a challenge late on, but Aberama Gold never looked in serious danger of being caught and passed the post three-quarters of a length to the good.

"I didn't actually want to be where I was. It's a long way out (to be in front) - two furlongs in that sort of ground for two-year-olds. It's very sticky," said Gray.

"There's still plenty of running in him, he's got a great attitude."

Gulliver's kingdom

David O'Meara's Gulliver defied a starting price of 16/1 to win the Coral Sprint Trophy at York under Jason Hart.

The five-year-old gelding locked horns with Tim Easterby's Hyperfocus as the winning post approached, eventually prevailing on the line by just a neck.

The victory is the second the gelding has notched up on the Knavesmire this season, the first the result of another six-furlong handicap contest in June when he rewarded punters at 20/1.

"He was third in the Ayr Gold Cup," said O'Meara.

"We all actually thought he wanted better ground, but he won here early on in the year so he obviously likes the track.

"He was very tough, Jason (Hart) kept after him and gave him a great ride."

Dream day for Beckett

Lucander (9/2) kick-started a day to remember for Ralph Beckett when winning the Play Correct4 For Free With Coral Nursery Handicap, run over a mile.

The gelding's victory was the first of a five-timer for Beckett, who also collected a string of four prizes at Newmarket.

"He ran relatively smoothly all the way through," said Ben Curtis, who steered the two-year-old to a narrow short-head victory.

"I probably had the best form in the book coming into the race, there were a few others that looked like they might progress past me but I think once you let him go he can keep the ball rolling."

Forest fires

The winning margin was not quite so tight for Richard Fahey's Coolagh Forest (7/2), who came home three lengths ahead of 2/1 favourite Johnny Drama in the Smart Money's On Coral Handicap over a mile and two furlongs.

Paul Hanagan was the jockey responsible, and said: "He's a horse that's got better and better as the season's gone on.

"I kind of got into a battle with him a few times and now I think the best thing is just to put your hands on his neck and relax. I've found the key to him now."

Hanagan was less enthused about the suggestion that the horse might reroute to the National Hunt sphere, having stayed well on York's testing soft ground.

"I hope not," he joked when asked whether the colt might make a hurdler.

"He does stay, so the jump boys will be queuing up for him."

Sass is class

A convincing victory from Mick Easterby's Sassie (5/1) then provided Hanagan with a double, with the four-year-old filly taking the two-mile Free Bets For Lengths With Coral Handicap.

Al Rufaa (11/2) clung on to victory in the Join The Coral Bet & Get Club ebfstallions.com Novice Stakes.

Almost edged out of the winner's spot by Fox Duty Free on the line, the Kingman colt just managed to maintain his lead and eventually triumphed by a neck.

In doing so, trainer John Gosden claimed a ninth winner of the season on the Knavesmire and was thus awarded the 2019 Charles Clinkard York Top Trainer title.

The Coldstream Guards Association Cup Handicap, run over a mile and two furlongs, went the way of 3/1 favourite Dubai Icon, trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by Josephine Gordon.

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