Sardinia Sunset rises to occasion
Sardinia Sunset made it third time lucky with a Listed success in the EBF Marygate Fillies’ Stakes at York.
Runner-up on her racecourse debut at Newmarket in early June, Roger Varian’s youngster was last seen finishing fourth behind American challenger Campanelle in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot.
With that form boosted by the subsequent success of the third, Caroline Dale, Sardinia Sunset was the 10-11 favourite to open her account – and while odds-on backers might have been sweating at halfway, she knuckled down well in the rain-softened ground to prevail by a length from Furlong Factor.
She could potentially get six furlongs, as she relaxed quite well there today
Winning jockey Jason Watson said: “She hit a bit of flat spot halfway through the race, but she’s got a good attitude and toughed it out.
“She kind of went from struggling to quickening, and all of sudden she was bang there in front – I probably got there a bit sooner than I would have liked in the end.
“She’s still green, because it’s only her third run, (but) I think this track has suited her. She could potentially get six furlongs, as she relaxed quite well there today.”
Mr Carpenter was a shock 100-1 winner of the New Sporting Life App Handicap for trainer Tim Easterby and jockey Cam Hardie.
The son of Mastercraftsman was making his first start for the Malton maestro, having changed hands for 15,000 guineas last October following five starts for David Lanigan.
Tackling a mile and a half for the first time, Mr Carpenter travelled smoothly into contention and held Sweet Celebration at bay by a neck, with hot favourite Fox Vardy a close-up third.
“It wasn’t a surprise to me – I thought he was a very nice horse,” said Easterby.
“He’d worked nicely. I didn’t even look to see what price he was – I should have had £20 on him!
“We thought he wanted a bit of juice in the ground. He travelled lovely, and I’m not shocked that he ran well.”
I'm still shocked, to be honest - it's my biggest surprise in racing in 40 years
Social-distancing measures meant veteran part-owner Brian Valentine had to watch his winner come in from the steps adjacent to the parade ring.
But he said: “I don’t mind a winner anywhere, crowd or no crowd. I’ve had one winner here before.
“I’m still shocked, to be honest – it’s my biggest surprise in racing in 40 years.”
Another leading Yorkshire-based trainer Kevin Ryan claimed the first race of the new season on the Knavesmire, with Black Caspian landing the opening Sky Vegas Handicap under Kevin Stott.
Fourth on his seasonal reappearance and handicap debut at Doncaster last month, the 14-1 shot raised his game in first-time cheek-pieces to score by a neck from Entrancing.
Ryan said: “It was a good performance. Last year he was just a bit of a big baby – even today he was on and off the bridle.
“He was tough, and I’d say he’ll learn an awful lot from that run today again. He’s the type of horse who’ll be a work in progress.
“It’s wonderful to be back at York.”
The Phillip Makin-trained Muker is bound for the Molecomb at Goodwood after winning for the second time from three starts in the Download The ITV App British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes.
A winner on his Newcastle debut before placing third in the Windsor Castle at the Royal meeting, the 11-10 favourite gave weight and a beating to his York rivals in the hands of Paul Mulrennan.
“It was a very good performance, giving 7lb away. His form has really worked out with the Queen’s horse (Tactical, Windsor Castle winner) winning the Group Two at Newmarket (July Stakes) earlier today,” said the rider.
“I didn’t have to be too serious on him there – there was plenty of horse left underneath me. He’s got a great mind and is very professional and I think we’re heading for the Molecomb now in three weeks’ time.”
Mulrennan went on to complete a double aboard Solo Saxophone (6-4 favourite), who made it three wins from as many starts since joining Ben Haslam with an authoritative display in the Sky Bet Thank You NHS Handicap.
“Fair play to Ben and all his team – they’d done a great job with him,” said Mulrennan.
“He’s improving all the time, and who knows where he’ll stop improving?”
Simon and Ed Crisford’s 15-8 favourite Cape Cavalli impressed under James Doyle in division one of the Sky Bet Safer Gambling Handicap, while Stuart Williams and Oisin Murphy combined to land division two with 15-8 ‘jolly’ Rhythmic Intent.
The concluding Sky Bet Thank You Key Workers Handicap went to 25-1 shot Orbaan, trained by David O’Meara and ridden by Harry Bentley.