Dale Gibson’s morning run paid off in fine style as he made it third time lucky to land the £65,000-added (€101,500) William Hill Trophy at York today on 25-1 shot Artie for Tim Easterby.
The lightweight jockey went for an early workout as he had to get down to the minimum 7st 10lb for his mount in the richest three-year-old sprint handicap in Europe.
And connections of the lowest-weighted of Easterby’s four runners - who only made the cut for the race by one - were thankful as the gelding did not have an ounce to spare in a desperate finish.
Gibson, 34, had Artie in front from the start and had to use all his strength to hold a strong late challenge by in-form apprentice Paul Hanagan on David Barron’s 9-1 shot Impressive Flight, who was just a short-head adrift at the line.
The David Nicholls-trained Fire Up The Band (7-1) completed a clean sweep of the places for Yorkshire in third, just ahead of Just James (6-1), with Easterby’s other runners Fayr Jag, Travelling Times and Silver Band fifth, seventh and 10th respectively.
But 5-1 favourite Jonny Eberneezer dropped out quickly from halfway to come home 12th.
‘‘It’s third time lucky and it makes a change to win by a short-head,’’ said Gibson, who had feared that he had just got caught on passing the post.
‘‘I got beaten a short-head on Macaw in the Cecil Frail at Haydock and I got beaten a short-head on Elvington Boy in a 40-grand race at Musselburgh.
‘‘This was my first winner for Tim and he booked me at 3pm on Monday when the weights came out. I had a run this morning to take the extra half pound off.
‘‘Had it been a stiff six furlongs he wouldn’t have got home. But when the other horse came to him it
And Easterby added of the winner, who paid nearly 59-1 on the Tote: ‘‘He’s a five-furlong horse
really and if hadn’t had the strength of Dale behind him, or if he had put up 1/2lb overweight he would have got beaten.
‘‘It sounds corny but the owner Alf Arton and I always wanted to win this race. We couldn’t get him ready early as the ground was too firm - he has to have cut in the ground and he still needed the race last time out.’’
Easterby had initiated a 181-1 double with Bollin Nellie, who gave Annie Elsey a sparkling success in the Queen Mother’s Cup - Europe’s richest race for lady amateur riders.
Victory on the 6-1 favourite, who burst clear two furlongs out to triumph by a comfortable five lengths, earned the 29-year-old her weight in Champagne - 38 bottles of Pol Roger.
But the bubbly will have to be put on ice as she dashed from York to fly off to Norway this evening to ride in the FEGENTRI series for amateur jockeys, in which she is currently the leading lady.
Miss Elsey, a vet in Malton, played down her part in Bollin Nellie’s win, saying: ‘‘She is very game, she always gives everything and there was no need to resort to the whip.
‘‘I’ve ridden in this race a couple of times before but this is the first time I have made the frame.’’
But Easterby, whose string Miss Elsey has worked on in the past, admires her talents in and out of the saddle.
‘‘I booked her 10 days ago as I had seen her ride,’’ he said. ‘‘She has done quite a lot of work for us and she came and rode out the other day, though she doesn’t get much chance to do that as she is a full-time vet.
‘‘And her father Bill Elsey went to school with the owner Sir Neil Westbrook.
‘‘I have had this race in mind for a while for Bollin Nellie as she is a free-running mare, perfect for this type of race.’’
Hughie Morrison’s decision to run presumed top-of-the-ground specialist Waverley in the Daniel Prenn Royal Yorkshire Stakes despite overnight rain paid off as his front-running colt fought back well for a one-length win from Total Turtle.
‘‘I nearly pulled him out this morning and again half an hour before the race,’’ the trainer said.
‘‘We thought he wanted fast ground but he has grown into his frame now and he is now a good, strong horse.’’
Neil Callan was handed a three-day ban (June 24-26) for irresponsible riding of a minor nature on Celebration Town, unplaced behind Champion Lodge in the Cadogan Silver Salver Handicap.