Tom Queally rounded off his breakthrough season at a snow-covered Lingfield with a confident ride aboard Tranquil Tiger.
The 25-year-old Irishman has thrived from his appointment as Henry Cecil’s first-choice jockey and claimed his first five winners at Group or Grade One level in 2009, crowned by Midday in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
The temperature barely rose above freezing in Surrey but unlike the country’s jumping action, the Polytrack was still raceable despite the venue providing a perfect backdrop for an Injured Jockeys’ Fund Christmas card.
Tranquil Tiger’s course and distance defeat of Presvis last month had been franked by his opponent performing admirably in the Hong Kong Cup, making him the 5-6 favourite for the Listed Bet Live In Play At totesport.com Quebec Stakes.
But while the five-year-old travelled with his usual aplomb, he was not able to shake off Suits Me and only a short-head split them at the post, despite Queally only applying a couple of taps of the whip.
“Darryll Holland (Suits Me) was quite close to me and I couldn’t give him a proper smack,” said Queally.
“When I let him go, he didn’t find quite as much as I thought. He can be tricky but I got the rail and that helped.
“The key is to keep him fresh. He’s been in great form at home and his last run was one of his best.
“He’s backing his runs up now. Now and again he can run a bit disappointing, but he hasn’t done that for a while.
“I mentioned the Winter Derby to (Cecil’s assistant) Mike Marshall.
“The great thing about that race is that they do go quick and that will definitely suit him.”
Reflecting on the season, Queally added: “It’s great for the boss and everyone has done a great job. If next year is half as good, we’ll be happy.
“This is my last day riding. I’ll go back to Ireland and chill out for two or three weeks now.”
On his way to Dubai will be Jaroslaw, whose finishing kick settled a competitive Best Odds Guaranteed At totesport Conditions Stakes.
The ex-South African six-year-old earned Martin Dwyer a treble as he picked off fellow 5-2 co-favourite Ace Of Hearts.
Jenny Simcock, wife of trainer David, said: “Hopefully that will justify a trip to Dubai and hopefully he shouldn’t get too stiff a handicap mark.
“He was stepping up to a mile and he looked like he needed it.
“He was a sprinter in South Africa so there’s still a doubt about the trip.”
Dwyer’s other winners came for Dean Ivory, first as Miss Lesley (6-1) made all in the Bet On Today’s Football At totesport.com Claiming Stakes before he partnered old stager Fromsong (6-1) in division one of the William Lennox 87th Birthday Handicap.
Of the latter, Ivory said: “I’m so pleased.
“To think he’s 11 rising 12 now, it’s great to see these old horses keep going, and that’s one of the good things about the all-weather.
“It’s the first year I’ve had him that he hadn’t won, so he’s obviously just run into a bit of form.”
Roger Ingram’s Kai Mook (13-2) stepped up from a recent second at Wolverhampton by dictating the CWB Controls Novice Stakes, beating the rather wayward 4-7 favourite Stargaze by a length.
“We didn’t know what to do with her today but Steve Drowne just jumped and let her bowl,” said Ingram.
“She’ll be nice next year. She might actually run at Kempton tomorrow otherwise she’ll have a break until February.”
Ingram’s fellow Epsom resident Laura Mongan also struck as Mildoura (15-2) slipped the field in the Bigger ’Win Only’ Odds At totesport.com Handicap.
Division two of the handicap went the way of admirable all-weather sprinter Thoughtsofstardom, the 2-1 favourite.
“He’s as tough as they come and a pleasure to have in the yard,” said trainer Phil McEntee.
“He’s in at Southwell on Tuesday and he’ll go there, then that will be it. For a fortnight!”