19 April 2019
Yorkshire-based trainer Mark Johnston has always been a great supporter of All-Weather Racing, yet 7/1 chance Watersmeet was a first winner for the stable on Finals Day when scooting two and a quarter lengths clear of 4/6 favourite Amade at the end of a race that had not gone to plan.
Johnston said: "He deserved that. I've often thought he deserved a big one, either on turf or All-Weather, but particularly All-Weather. He's actually run three times on this day, as he ran in the Middle-Distance the first time (ninth in 2016) and then was second in the Marathon two years ago and third last year, so it was his turn."
Asked why it was different for the grey this time, he said: "It was a classic example of not having any tactics or plan, and Joe took the blind off too early and so he hit the gates and then sat back on his hocks and missed the break. That meant he was back in the field and Joe had to think again.
"He got lucky when the favourite went round the outside, so he followed him. He finished extremely well, and whether that's because they were slowing down I don't know, but Joe said he didn't know he was that far clear."
He added: "It did look different to his other races, because he doesn't usually race that way. I didn't think his chance had gone when he missed it, but I hate seeing them having to go wide around the bends and I thought Joe should have made a bit of a move earlier, but all's well that ends well."
Looking ahead, Johnston said: "I don't know how many times he's run in the Northumberland Plate, but he should be capable of winning a race like that. He's always been a bit more consistent on the All-Weather and those have got to be the races for him. Where else do you go - he's eight years old.
"Watersmeet is an extraordinary horse. He is a bit of a character, and so many of the good ones are I suppose. He is useful with his feet and with his teeth! He was not platted today because they could not get him platted.
"We knew he was in a good mood going into the race because he had won one battle already today. He can be a difficult horse, but he's a great horse on his day.
"He has run some great races on the turf, but is just that bit better on the All-Weather. He has never had a great run in races like the Chester Cup even though you would think he would be up for a race like that. He always seems to come good here on the All-Weather."
FANNING WALKING ON WATER
The Mark Johnston-trained Watersmeet (7/1) captured the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Marathon Championship under jockey Joe Fanning.
The evergreen eight-year-old son of Dansili displayed a smart turn of foot in the home straight to quicken past the well-supported 4/6 favourite Amade and score by two and a quarter-lengths.
This was Watersmeet's fourth run on All-Weather Championship Finals Day. He was third in the two-mile contest in 2018, second in 2017 and also finished ninth in the 2016 renewal of the Betway Easter Classic.
Watersmeet was also recording his 13th victory on the All-Weather from 29 starts.
Fanning said: "Watersmeet did it well. We missed the kick from the stalls as I probably whipped the blind off a bit too early.
"I was further back than I wanted, but it probably worked out quite well.
"They went a good pace all the way which helps. The favourite Amade started to loop the field, so I decided to follow and he picked him up well in the straight.
"Watersmeet did surprise me with the way he picked up, but he also runs well on the All-Weather, he never runs a bad race.
"I think it helped that Mark had freshened him up coming into this race too."
AMADE FINDS WATERSMEET TOO GOOD.
Amade, trained in France by Italian, Alessandro Botti, and sent off the 4/6 favourite, came with a strong challenge, only to be denied by the flying finish of 7/1 chance Watersmeet who finished two and a quarter-lengths to the good in the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Marathon Championship.
Botti said: "It was a good run but the pace wasn't very fast. When he came to the front, too easily, it wasn't to his liking and he didn't concentrate. He likes to come from behind."
Jockey, Christophe SoumilIon, added: "It was a good run, unfortunately the pace was really slow so I had to make a move early, but he ran well"