'Max' flies home for Mullins
Max Dynamite entered the reckoning for the Melbourne Cup after flooring a host of top-class stayers with consummate ease in the Lonsdale Cup at York yesterday.
Although taking a more unconventional route to the Group Two contest, having chased home Quick Jack in the Galway Hurdle on his previous outing, the five-year-old produced a vintage display to give Willie Mullins another big-race winner on the level.
The Michael Bell-trained Big Orange, bidding to complete a hat-trick of Group-race success, took the field along at a steady pace before attempting to kick from the front midway down the long home straight at the Knavesmire.
Having raced alongside stablemate Simenon for much of the two-mile contest, Max Dynamite travelled effortlessly into contention in the hands of Frankie Dettori to draw alongside Mizzou hitting the final two furlongs, as long-time leader Big Orange weakened out of contention.
As the two moved clear it was soon apparent there was to be only one winner with Max Dynamite, carrying the colours of owner Rich Ricci made famous by the like of top National Hunt performers Faugheen and Annie Power, forging on in impressive fashion.
The 8/1 chance crossed the line four-and-a-half lengths clear of Mizzou, with Hidden Gold a further length back in third.
Ricci said: "I'm not used to this Flat lark, I feel a bit silly in my hat and linen suit!
"Willie is a genius. We thought he might improve - he needed to find a few pounds and he did.
"We've talked about Australia, so we'll see what mark he gets. As a gelding we're not bothered about the breeding side.
"This horse was highly rated on the Flat in France. He's not the best hurdler, but he nearly won a Galway Hurdle.
"It's great to have these horses and it's great to have them with Willie. I don't have many on the Flat, so I'll enjoy today."
Dettori said: "Willie Mullins is a legend and wearing these colours means a lot.
"He gave me a dream ride, I don't know which one I'll ride in the Gold Cup next year!
"He beat some very good horses very easily, you've got to think of the Gold Cup next year."
An audacious challenge from the American two-year-old Acapulco was cut just short when the Darlington-trained Mecca's Angel overhauled her inside the final furlong to win the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes.
As expected, Acapulco attempted to make her weight allowance of nearly two stones count by surging into the lead from the start and, with a couple of furlongs remaining, she was making her elders look superannuated as jockey Irad Ortiz sat motionless and his rivals were pumping away to stay in touch.
But Paul Mulrennan suddenly appeared out of the pack approaching the grandstands and had worn down the tiring 13/8 favourite in the final 50 yards, eventually finishing two lengths clear to continue the fine recent Nunthorpe record of fillies.
There was added satisfaction for trainer Michael Dods as his smart juvenile filly Easton Angel had finished second to the giant Acapulco in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot.
"I think Meccas Angel is better with a bit more juice in the ground," he said. "It's great for Paul, it's marvellous for the North and great to beat the Americans.
"Watching it, I said 'I don't want to be second to you again', but we stuck it up them. Paul thinks she would stay six furlongs but I wouldn't want to complicate it. I think we'll go for the Abbaye and race for one more season."
Mulrennan, 32, added: "It's unbelievable. I lost my claim here, I started off for Mick Easterby here and he taught me everything I know. It's great being a Yorkshire jockey, it's the best track in England for me."
Joint-owner David Metcalfe, an amateur rider who says he was expelled from school for acting as a bookmaker, is steeped in racing history and his father Alan owned Tamalin, which might have won the 1978 Grand National but for a serious mistake.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)