Tim Easterby saddled a second treble this week and he found it hard to disguise the regard in which he holds Fishable, who defied a 7lb rise for a repeat course-and-distance win in the Sky Bet Thank You Key Workers Handicap at Ripon.
Unraced at two, Fishable (15-8 favourite) finished second on his debut over seven furlongs before notching a fine third over an extended mile at Hamilton, looking like a step up in trip would suit.
Sure enough, on his handicap debut over 10 furlongs he fairly bolted up, beating Scottish Summit by three and a quarter lengths and he beat the same rival on 7lb worse terms by half a length this time.
“We thought a lot of him as a two-year-old, but he’s a big horse so we put him away. All he wanted was a trip. He’s got a presence about him, he’s a lovely horse,” said Easterby.
“Whether he’ll stay as far as the trip in the Melrose (one mile and six furlongs), I’m not quite sure yet, but those are the types of races we’ll be looking at.
“He’ll be much better when he gets over a mile and a half. His mum (Sweet Stream) was a very good racemare.”
Easterby’s Staxton (5-1 joint-favourite) was rated over 100 not too long ago and took full advantage of a tumbling handicap mark to win the David Chapman Memorial Handicap off 84.
However, the photo finish took a long time to call with Watchable on the far side of the track going down by just a nose.
“He’s a good horse on his day and had dropped enough in the handicap to a proper mark,” said Easterby.
“I’d like to think we can win a good race with him along the way. He was a bit unlucky in the Ayr Gold Cup last year and I imagine he’ll be heading back there.
“Obviously he’ll run before then, but I’m not sure he’ll get in the Great St Wilfrid this year – there’ll be some nice races for him.”
Bollin Joan (4-1) completed the treble, and a double for David Allan who rode Fishable, in the Download the ITV7 App Handicap.
Iain Jardine’s string have hit form recently and the Scot celebrated a double courtesy of 9-4 favourite Innse Gall in the one-mile nursery and Clearance in the two-mile handicap.
The in-form Paul Mulrennan was on Innse Gall and said: “He did everything back to front really, he missed the break then I had to rush him up to make use of his draw.
“All he does is stay, he’ll easy get 10 furlongs next year and maybe a mile and a half. I always had enough horse under me to get there.
“The step up in trip is the making of him and Iain’s horses have turned a corner.”
Graham Lee was on Clearance (13-2), who defied an 8lb rise and can expect another hefty addition next time out.
Lee said: “I thought 8lb was harsh for winning last time, but I’ve gladly been proved wrong. I thought four or five might have been justified.
“This looked his most difficult task, but he’s come through it.
“You have to ride him semi-cold, which isn’t easy here as he suits front runners. I just kept it simple. He’s a dude.”
Ben Curtis kept in touch with Oisin Murphy at the top of the jockeys’ championship with a win on Karl Burke’s Hilarity (11-2) in the British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes, but it looked unlikely with a furlong to run.
Burke said: “Ben said by the time they’d gone a furlong he was already at Plan P!
“The aim was to jump quick and get the rail because the favourite was slowly away last time, but we were even slower.
“I took my eyes off her to be honest and was watching my other horse (Hungry For Fashion, sixth), but Ben said two out he felt he’d go close.
“She did everything wrong today, but she’s a lovely filly. I’ve always liked her and I think Twilight Son is going to make a good stallion. He was fast but he wasn’t precocious, so they’ve just needed a bit of time.”
William Buick made sure the journey north was not wasted when winning the finale on Simon and Ed Crisford’s long odds-on favourite Finely Tuned (2-7).
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