Maarek defies top weight to land Duke Of York
Last season’s Prix de l’Abbaye winner Maarek defied a 5lb penalty for that victory, to take the Duke Of York Stakes at York for Declan McDonogh and fledgling trainer Evanna McCutcheon.
McCutcheon, who was seen battling the banks course at Punchestown last month, took over training duties for the quality 7yo from her former boss Barry Lalor in April and having started with two decent Listed performances, her charge was back to his best to take today’s Group 2 contest.
At a surprisingly generous price of 12/1, Maarek was the first to take on the pace-setting pair of Heeraat and Astaire and after travelling strongly into the race, quickened away in the closing stages to score by 1/2 length to Astaire, with the brilliantly consistent Es Que Love again grabbing a place back in third.
A delighted McCutcheon said: “I’m a very lucky person to have a horse like him. To be in this position is unreal.
“He got a fraction stronger over the winter and because he’s a year older, it just took that bit longer to get him fit. He’s always been an idle horse. He’s now back in the swing of things finally. The first day the ground was very testing and he wasn’t fit enough. He then ran a cracker at Naas when he gave 14lb to a very good horse, but he still gave a heave.
“He has a habit of being very slowly away. So we asked to go into the stalls late today and he still had a little dance, but not too bad. He’ll go to Royal Ascot if there’s an ease in the ground. He’s in both races and he’s very effective over both distances. There would be a possibility of running in both, but it would be very ground dependent.”
By Kevin Walsh / Photo: PA/PA Archive. 14/05/14
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