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Duke of York joy for ex-Channel 4 Racing boss

Wednesday: York

John Fairley, the man who used to be in charge of Channel 4 Racing, was celebrating in front of the cameras after Highfield Princess took her remarkable career to another astonishing high.

The mare bred by the former boss of Yorkshire TV, who was unsold at 29,000gns as a yearling, won the Buckingham Palace Handicap at Royal Ascot last year and landed another big 7f prize on All-Weather Championships finals day at Newcastle on Good Friday.

But she took her form to a new level dropped back to 6f in the 1895 Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes, powering clear under Jason Hart to take the Group 2 by two and three-quarter lengths.

"I expected her to run a big race but I didn't expect her to quicken away from the field like that – I can't quite believe it," said Hart, who was given a three-day ban for careless riding.

The mare took her earnings past £320,000 and a delighted Fairley, who owns trainer John Quinn's yard in Malton, said: "We bred her and she's in our own stables, I see her out of the window literally every day.

"This is easily the best horse I've had. Living in Yorkshire as long as I have, to win a Group race like that at York was tremendous. We nearly ran her at Lingfield last Saturday in a Group race, but we wanted decent ground.

"We entered her for the Platinum Jubilee Stakes. It was an act of over-confidence as you have to pay a penny or two – it looks a bargain now!"

Gold record

Dakota Gold equalled Copper Knight's modern-day record of six wins at the track with a back-to-form 18-1 victory in the 6f handicap.

The Michael Dods-trained front-runner blazed a trail and showed a willing attitude to fend off Makanah by a head under Connor Beasley to take his overall record at the track to six victories from 11 starts.

"For an eight-year-old to go and do that, he's got some heart," beamed Dods. "He's won a lot of races here and never seems to run a bad race. To keep going and pull it out the bag is tremendous – all credit to the horse and Connor."

Copper Knight is set to bid for a seventh course win in Thursday's opening 5f handicap (1.50), while Stradivarius will look to extend his record of five wins at York in Friday's Yorkshire Cup (3.35).

Dakota Gold, owned by Doug Graham, Ian Davison and Alan Drysdale, finished 2020 with three wins at Group 3 and Listed level but he struggled for form last year.

"He looks better this year than last year – I was never really happy with him in his coat. Six furlongs on good ground is perfect for him," Dods said. "It's nice to see him come back and hopefully he'll go on from here."

Gaassee's Ebor ticket

Gaassee won the first race of the year at the track to guarantee himself a spot in one of the course's most famous contests.

His victory in the opening 1m4f handicap earned him a certain run in the Sky Bet Ebor in August and he is a 10-1 chance (from 14-1) with the sponsors.

The 6-4 favourite won in no more than workmanlike fashion and trainer William Haggas admitted: "He wasn't as impressive as I'd hoped he'd be but he won and that was the most important thing.

"He was lugging a bit to his left and I don't know why. He looked a bit rusty. He's in the Hardwicke but I don't know if he's up to that yet – he'll be a stakes horse in time. My record in the Ebor is appalling but he'll stay and he's progressive."

 

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