Spanish Mission is too good in Yorkshire Cup
The five-year-old asserted in the closing stages to be a clear-cut winner over Santiago and Sir Ron Priestley, in the hands of William Buick.
Andrew Balding’s globe-trotter was having his third run of the year, after racing in Saudi Arabia and Dubai in the winter.
Buick had the 11-2 shot, winner of last year’s Doncaster Cup, at the back of the five-runner field as Wells Farhh Go made the running from Sir Ron Priestley.
There was little change in the order until in the straight when Wells Farhh Go weakened after being off the track for 587 days.
Sir Ron Priestley hit the front but could not put the race to bed and faded in the final furlong.
That left Spanish Mission to come home two and a three-quarter lengths clear of Santiago – with Sir Ron Priestley, the 6-5 favourite, only third.
Spanish Mission was cut to 16-1 from 33-1 for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot with Coral, and 10-1 from 25-1 with Betfair and Paddy Power.
The winning trainer’s wife Anna Lisa Balding said: “We’re absolutely delighted – it’s wonderful for the owners and Andy who looks after him.
Ascot's obviously the plan, the Gold Cup
“They couldn’t go to Saudi, so it’s great they’re here today.”
She confirmed too that a move back up in trip from this mile and three-quarters will be Spanish Mission’s next assignment, at Royal Ascot.
“Ascot’s obviously the plan, the Gold Cup,” she said.
“William was very impressed with him – what a lovely horse to have on the yard.
“He’s in great form (after his winter travels). He loves it, he loves to get some air miles I’d say!
“Dubai just didn’t work – it was the second time he’d run a bad race in Dubai.
“He’s got some pace too, hasn’t he? We’re just so pleased.”
Trainer Mark Johnston said of Sir Ron Priestley: “He went to the front like he was cantering and had them all at it – and for whatever reason didn’t get home.
“We know he’s won over a mile and six (furlongs) before, so we know he stays – he stayed the trip as a three-year-old, never mind now.
“Why he should fail to get home today, I don’t know. There doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with him, but we’ll see.
“(Stablemate) Nayef Road (finished last of five) was also a bit out of character. For all it was maybe a bit sharp for him, it was still out of character to be under pressure so quickly.
“Maybe they’ve gone an awful lot faster than we all thought. It will be interesting to see how the time comes out.”