Red-hot Easterby strikes again
Tim Easterby's default setting might be understatement, but his broad smile at Beverley was as revealing as any narrative in racing this week.
Easterby was in double form during a sleepy afternoon on the Westwood, but that achievement almost felt like a happy aside in what has been a vintage few days for the Classic-winning trainer.
The Great Habton handler has rattled off nine winners since Friday, which included a Listed success at Chester and an extremely valuable victory in the Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury.
Back in more humble environs in East Yorkshire, Easterby's relentless momentum stayed constant when Forster Street (8-1) firstly made all of the running under Graham Gibbons to take the Beverley Fashion Week Handicap by half a length.
Easterby said: "He had a lot of problems in the stalls last year and we had him cut (gelded) after his last run.
"He could be half a nice horse."
Easterby, almost inevitably, was back in the winner's enclosure an hour later when Holy Angel (12-1) struck in the tyregiant.com Sprint Handicap.
Despite being uncompromisingly drawn in stall 16, Duran Fentiman's mount circumnavigated a battalion of thoroughbreds to gain a slender lead from Meandmyshadow inside the final 150 yards.
The hard work was not over yet, though, as Holy Angel needed rigorous persuasion to keep the on-rushing Ypres at bay by a head.
Easterby said: "I didn't think he'd win from that draw - it's unbelievable.
"I also thought the ground had dried up for him as well."
Mark Johnston was in France to see Baileys Jubilee take Listed honours at Vichy, but his Middleham operation also left Beverley with two winners courtesy of Pure Excellence and Moon Trip.
The former did not quite live up to her name in division one of the tyregiant.com Maiden Auction Stakes, but nonetheless looked a horse with a degree of potential.
Johnston's newcomer (6-1) showed a nice shift of gear in the hands of Franny Norton to claim an admittedly moderate five-furlong encounter by a length from Bogsnog.
Johnston's assistant Jock Bennett said: "Franny said she got away with it over five (furlongs) and would be better over further."
Norton's canniness from the front was also evident when stablemate Moon Trip (7-2) made a seamless rise in distance to win the 127th Year of the Watt Memorial Handicap.
The experienced jockey dictated the two-mile affair without going full throttle, which unquestionably helped the three-year-old skip five lengths clear of the Easterby-trained Mojolika.
Bennett said: "He's a lovely big horse and has a great attitude.
"He stays very well."
All-the-way tactics also helped the rejuvenated Eeny Mac, who was capably piloted by Julie Burke, bring up a course hat-trick in the Mr Rajaraman Handicap.
Seb Spencer, grandson and assistant to trainer Neville Bycroft, said of the 11-8 favourite: "He's the same horse at home as last season but has clearly improved out of sight on a racecourse."
Gibbons chipped in with a brace after the David Barron-trained Mitchell (9-4 favourite) stayed strong when it mattered in division two of the five-furlong maiden.
Michael Appleby's concerns about the surprisingly brisk ground proved unfounded when Lockantanks (7-2) came out on top in the irishbigracetrends.com Handicap, while Tinseltown (5-1) maintained the front-running theme in the Dorothy Laird Memorial Trophy.