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Matterhorn Runs Away With Easter Classic, Eclipsing Hot Favourite Wissahickon

Championship News
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19 April 2019

Wissahickon was supposed to be the afternoon's banker in the Betway Easter Classic at odds of 1/3, but Matterhorn (9/2) had other ideas and beat him fair and square by a stunning seven lengths, and in a time (2m 1.09s) just a tenth of a second slower than the course record set by Farraaj more than six years ago.

His success completed a 43/1 double for Yorkshire-based trainer Mark Johnston, who had enjoyed a first-ever Finals Day win with Watersmeet in the earlier Marathon, and to the trainer's surprise it also secured him the prize for the All-Weather Championships season's winning-most horse (£10,000 prize) with seven wins, beating Lion Hearted, unplaced in the first race, on countback. Matterhorn also takes the AWC Horse of the Year award (£10,000 prize), after amassing £179,702 in prize money.

Johnston said: "That was fantastic. Last time (seventh at Kempton) was a diversion from the original plan and this was a much better performance. We weren't confident that he would be better at this mile and a quarter and thought long and hard about it, but we had Cardsharp for the Mile and decided we shouldn't run away from one horse.

"Early on when the favourite's stable companion was taking Matterhorn on I was worried it would be a repeat of Kempton, but when he hit the front he was obviously full of running.

"I would say Wissahickon had every chance and that the race was run as they wanted it, and Matterhorn has come out on top."

Johnston revealed that Matterhorn almost went to the sales, but added that if he had done he would have been keen to buy him back.

He said: "We always thought he was a very good horse, but he had his problems which is why he didn't race for so long. He almost went to the sales in October, and I ran him just before just to show that he was worth keeping. If he'd gone to the sales I might have bought him. I was confident about him,.

"Once he started running on the All-Weather and winning we always had this race in mind, and that was great to see. He'll have to go into Pattern company mow, and it might be a different story, but we'll have to find out. I don't think grass will be a worry."

HORN IN FRONT WHERE IT MATTERS

The Mark Johnston-trained Matterhorn caused an upset in the feature race on £1-million All-Weather Championships Finals Day, the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic, overturning the 1/3 favourite Wissahickon.

The 9/2 shot travelled well throughout the 10-furlong contest and ran on strongly in the home straight to score impressively by seven lengths from the John Gosden-trained and Frankie Dettori-ridden Wissahickon.

Ridden by Joe Fanning, who along with Johnston was registering a 43/1 double following Watersmeet's (7/1) success in the Betway All-Weather Marathon, Matterhorn was also crowned the Winning Most Horse during the current All-Weather Championships season.

Matterhorn had seven wins, tying with Michael Appleby's Lion Hearted, but won the award on countback having finished second this term, something not achieved by Lion Hearted.

Matterhorn has also won the AWC Horse Of The Year award after amassing £179,702.76 in prize money.

Fanning, who had not enjoyed an AWC Finals Day winner before today, said: "Matterhorn travelled really well today and it was a good performance.

"The pace was good in the race and he settled well. To be honest, I think you could even drop him back to a mile as he is keen enough. He stayed the 10 furlongs well today.

"Matterhorn is a good horse and it's great to get the win today. Coming down the hill, I was cantering and he never came off the bridle until two out.

"He put it to bed well in the home straight.

"To be honest, I gave him a bad ride at Kempton last time [finished seventh, March 30] - I was drawn low so I pushed him up there and kept getting taken on. 

"We just put a line through that because he had done nothing wrong before that."

WISSAHICKON COMES BEHIND THE MATTERHORN

Wissahickon didn't justify his 1/3 favouritism in the main event of the day, the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic All-Weather Middle Distance Championship, coming home a seven length-second to 9/2 chance Matterhorn.

Trainer John Gosden commented after the race: "He was three wide and had no cover all the way.

"Racing three wide from that draw (drawn widest of all in eight) - it is tough round here when you meet the bend quick and you spend the whole way in the middle of the track. 

"He is a cover up, turn of foot horse. The draw has slightly done for him, but that is life.

"The winner has run very well."

Jockey Frankie Dettori added: "The winner was mightily impressive. I may have gone a bit wide throughout, but the winner's performance was better than me today and perhaps my fella was a little bit flat."

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