Darryll Holland stole the show on the final day of Ascot’s Festival meeting when he completed a brilliant near 126-1 treble on Systematic, Peruvian Chief and Scott’s View.
The feat featured all aspects of Holland’s skills as a rider and emphasised the fear the bookmakers have of Mark Johnston at any Ascot meeting as both Systematic (1-2) and Scott’s View (11-2) hail from that man’s Middleham stables.
Scott’s View was cut to 7-1 from double that price for the Tote Cesarewitch by Victor Chandler after thwarting Contraband and Dune in the Tote Exacta Handicap and if running in that contest the three-year-old would carry 9st including a 7lb penalty.
However, Johnston is unlikely to follow the Newmarket route, believing that Scott’s View doesn’t stay two miles.
Johnston explained: “This horse seems to have gone on and on and won us so many races and I feel there have been valid reasons why he lost at Chester, when he was boxed in, and at Sandown where he set too strong a pace on a stiff track.”
Holland thanked Johnston for putting him up on Scott’s View, saying: “It’s extra nice to ride another winner for Mark and that he chose me when Kevin (Darley) had to go to Canada. He was always travelling and I had to sit and suffer but when the gap came everything paid off and he took it instantly.”
Holland tried to make all the running on Systematic in the Young Vic Theatre Cumberland Lodge Stakes but though looking in trouble when headed by Warrsan over a furlong out the three-year-old fought back to score by half-a-length and to record a seventh success of the season.
This performance again illustrated how the Johnston horses appeared to find extra in the Ascot straight and the trainer commented: “I really don’t know why it happens and why we have such a good strike rate but they seem to stick on up that climb to the post.”
On Peruvian Chief (12-1) in the Riggs Bank Rated Handicap Holland ended a 48-race losing run by the five-year-old on the turf, although trainer Nick Littmoden emphasised that the gelding has been unlucky not to win a big handicap on grass this season.
The Newmarket trainer observed: “He’s been drawn wrong when coming here before and actually bolted up on the wrong side in the Stewards‘ Cup. After he ran in the Silver Cup at Ayr we were going to put him away but we are really glad we changed our minds and everything fell into place for him today.”
There was a big shake-up in the Cambridgeshire market after Zonergem (6-1) came from last to first under Jamie Spencer to score by three-and-a-half lengths from George Stubbs.
The chestnut, who had passed a stalls test at Kempton six days previously, was immediately cut to 14-1 from 33-1 for the first leg of the autumn double by both Victor Chandler and big race sponsors The Tote.
Spencer deliberately missed the break on Zonergem who was hooded for stalls entry but the Irishman gave his mount plenty of time to pick up his rivals and after weaving through them the combination gained one of the easiest big handicap successes seen this season.
Zonergem’s trainer Lady Herries said: “I was very nervous today from the moment I arrived. Michael Tebbutt had told us to drop the horse right out and that’s the instruction I gave to Jamie and he carried it out to perfection.
“I couldn’t believe that he was still sitting there on a loose rein and the others had played their hands.
“The horse was originally owned by Judd Monty and was sold because he was known to make a noise, but when my vet checked him over we couldn’t find anything wrong and though he does occasionally make a sound it doesn’t happen when he’s fully fit.”
Newbury’s Group Three Horris Hill Stakes could be the next port of call for Captain Saif (4-1) after the colt preserved his unbeaten record and completed a hat-trick by beating Weavers Pride in the JRA London Office’s Tenth Anniversary Conditions Stakes.
Dane O’Neill’s mount was always holding the runner-up with Love You Always appearing to find the seven furlongs on the short side.
Afterwards trainer Richard Hannon’s son and assistant Richard said: “He’s given the second weight and a beating and has deserved to take on bigger fish so we might go to Newbury next.”
To The Rescue (11-1) completed a 59-1 double for Hannon after a close finish to the Sodexho Nursery which proved to be an all-family affair.
The Paul Fitzsimons-ridden winner got up to beat Secret Formula, trained by Hannon’s son-in-law Sylvester Kirk with Hannon’s other runner High Accolade breathing down their necks in third.