The 4/6 favourite Grendisar, trained by Marco Botti in Newmarket, made it seven wins at Lingfield Park as he landed the odds in the £200,000 Coral Easter Classic with a confident ride from Adam Kirby.
The six-year-old, third last year, pounced late in the final furlong to catch third Metropol, who was mugged close home by Fire Fighting, and win by a decisive length. The horse is the All-Weather season’s leading earner, having previously this year won the Winter Derby Trial and Winter Derby, and therefore takes the All-Weather Horse Of The Year title.
Adam Kirby, the winning rider, said: “Listen, I can’t explain what it means to me – you slog round all winter and put a lot of graft in.
“Unfortunately, I missed out on the All-weather Jockeys’ Championship, so it’s just nice to get on a good horse like this and let him express how good he is.
“He really lengthened coming down the straight. It was a bit of a worry because he’s not as good when he comes down the outside, but he got on with it and put the race to bed.
“The only thing I was worried about – I don’t know whether it’s been the heat, or whether they’ve done the track a bit deeper – but I said to Marco [Botti, trainer] before the race that we might just have to be a length or two closer because the Polytrack is riding very deep.
“But luckily the horse is a class act, isn’t he, and he overcame it. He’s a proper racehorse – he loves the Polytrack, he loves it round here and he’s never been in better form.
“It is a great day and everyone’s happy. When you ride a class one and just steer them round, it just makes life so much easier. I was very confident all the way through, the only thing I was worried about was the track. I don’t know if they have done it deeper today or it is the heat but I said to Marco before the race that we might have to sit a length or two closer because it is hard to make up ground. Luckily, the horse is a class act and overcame it.
“He is a proper race horse and has never been in better form. He is a credit to Marco. It is a great day and everyone is happy.
“We try to prepare the horses with this one day in mind. I was getting a bit frustrated earlier in the day because I didn’t even finish in the first four.”
Botti declared: “Grendisar has looked great for the last three weeks. We could not have been happier with him, but you never know as things can go wrong in the race. There was a nice, genuine pace all the way and I was happy with the Adam’s position. The horse picked up well again and, even though he challenged out wide, he ran all the way to the line. In the past, he was not really trying hard enough.
“He enjoys it around Lingfield and a mile and a quarter is his best trip. This year has been his best yet with all the big races he has won. He started off rated 64, but we found the key to him which is the surface. Unfortunately, he is not so good on turf but that is not a problem with all the good prize money on the All-Weather now. The plan is to put him away over the summer and bring him back next year as a seven-year-old.
“I was quietly confident with his form and we couldn’t be happier with him coming into the race. He’s a lovely horse and he deserved to win a big race like today. I am really delighted.”
FIRE GOES DOWN FIGHTING IN THE CLASSIC
Jockey Fran Berry was impressed with Fire Fighting’s second in the Coral Easter Classic, when he finished runner-up to Grendisar, beaten by a length.
Berry, said of the 7/1 shot: “He ran fabulously, but on this track at that trip it was probably is a bit on the sharp side for him. But he came home strongly and it was probably the best run of his life and he got beaten by a very nice horse.”
French raider Metropol ran a huge race to finish third at odds of 16/1 and trainer Pia Brandt was pleased with the five-year-old’s effort.
She said: “He got a nice run and we tried. We didn’t think we should be able to be in the top three because this race was a lot harder than he had been getting in the trials. He [Theo Bachelot] tried to kick and tried to steal it and it almost worked.”
The French handler continued: “We know that Grendisar comes from behind and we tried to make the pace as slow as possible so he couldn’t pick up.
“But Grendisar is an extraordinary horse on this track so you can’t do much against him. But we tried. It was great performance. We will now try him on the turf, but it will have to be good ground.”
3.45pm £200,000 Coral Easter Classic All-Weather Middle Distance Championships, 1m 2f
For four-year-olds and upwards who, after October 28, 2015, and before March 19, 2016, have run three times on a designated All-Weather surface in Great Britain, Ireland or France, OR have run three times during the Championship period, including twice on a designated All-Weather surface in Great Britain, Ireland or France AND have run at least once at Meydan (Dirt) OR have won an “All-Weather middle distance Fast-Track qualifier” race. Weights: Colts and geldings 9st 5lb; fillies 9st. Maximum field of 14 (plus 2 reserves).
1) 2 GRENDISAR (IRE) 6 9-05 Mohamed Albousi Alghufli Marco Botti Adam Kirby 4/6 Fav
2) 3 FIRE FIGHTING (IRE) 5 9-05 Alan Spence Mark Johnston Fran Berry 7/1
3) 7 METROPOL (IRE) 5 9-05 Y Lauraire/Mme D Doussot Pia Brandt FR Theo Bachelot 16/1
4) 4 MAN OF HARLECH 5 9-05 Elite Racing Club Andrew Balding Oisin Murphy 16/1
5) 5 MAVERICK WAVE (USA) 5 9-05 Godolphin John Gosden James Doyle 4/1
6) 1 POLITICAL POLICY (IRE) 5 9-05 F W Lynch Gavin Cromwell IRE Ronan Whelan 33/1
7) 10 COMPLICIT (IRE) 5 9-05 936 from Paddington Paul Cole Luke Morris 33/1
8) 8 WINTERLUDE (IRE) 6 9-05 Brian Verinder & Alan Baxter Jennie Candlish George Baker 14/1
9) 9 WATERSMEET 5 9-05 J Barson Mark Johnston Joe Fanning 16/1
Time: 2m 2.94s
Distances: 1, sh, 2¼, 1, 1¼, 1¼, ½, ½
Tote Win: £1.40 Places £1.02, £2.60, £4.80 Exacta: £7.40