Mustajeer set for Melbourne tilt after famous York victory
All roads lead to the Melbourne Cup for Mustajeer after the Irish raider claimed top honours in the first £1million Sky Bet Ebor at York on Saturday.
Beaten a shade over five lengths into fourth place in the prestigious handicap 12 months ago, the Ger Lyons-trained six-year-old had been campaigned exclusively at Listed and Group-race level since, with connections gearing his campaign around a return to York.
The plan was executed to perfection as 16/1 shot Mustajeer scooped the £600,000 first prize in authoritative style under Colin Keane, and having been snapped up by owners Australian Bloodstock, he will soon head Down Under for 'the race that stops a nation' in November.
Lyons did not make the trip to York, but speaking on Racing TV's Luck On Sunday programme, he said: "The plan for yesterday was set in motion when he finished fourth last summer. We thought 'they're making this a £1million race, it would be rude of us not to go over and have a go at it'.
"Very seldom in our game does it work out. If you gave me fourth-place money before the race, I'd have took your hand off - that's not being pessimistic, it's just realistic.
"To see him win as he did was just phenomenal. All the stars aligned and we won the first £1million Ebor."
The main attraction on the undercard at York was six-times Group One winner Laurens, but Karl Burke's stable star was narrowly denied by Andrew Balding's Shine So Bright (6/1) in a pulsating renewal of the Group Two Sky Bet City of York Stakes.
Balding was at Goodwood, where he said: "It's really pleasing. He ran great in the Guineas and he won his trial very well. He is a high-class horse and those are his optimum conditions.
"We will have a think about what we do next, something like the Foret might be an option.
"If the ground held for a fortnight, the Sprint Cup is a possibility."
Burke said of Laurens: "She's lost nothing in defeat giving weight (7lb) to a very progressive horse.
"The Matron is, and has been, the main target. Now we've got a bit of a discussion whether to go for the Foret or the Sun Chariot again."
Hamish (7/1) emerged as a likely runner in next year's Ebor with victory in the Sky Bet Melrose Handicap.
Owned and bred by trainer William Haggas' father, Brian, the son of Motivator knuckled down well to beat the favourite First In Line on only his fourth start.
William Haggas was at Goodwood, from where he said: "He was very brave and I thought he did well to win.
"He has won and earned his ticket for next year's Ebor and is owned and bred by a Yorkshireman. I'm thrilled to bits."
Michael Stoute and Ryan Moore combined to land the Group Three Strensall Stakes with 7/2 chance Zaaki, while Alligator Alley charged home from an uncompromising position to win the Julia Graves Roses Stakes as the 11-8 favourite for Joseph and Donnacha O'Brien.
The progressive Forest Of Dean (6-4 favourite) could head for the Cambridgeshire after giving a sound beating to seasoned campaigners in the Sky Bet Handicap, completing a fine week for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori.
The centrepiece of a strong Saturday card at Goodwood was the Ladbrokes Celebration Mile Stakes, in which Paul Cole's Duke Of Hazzard (3-1) secured his third win from as many visits to the track and provided jockey Rossa Ryan with the biggest winner of his career.
Ryan said: "I didn't sleep very well last night. I spent all night on my tablet going through the form and working out how the race would pan out.
"It meant a lot to me to be given the chance and for them (winning connections) to have the faith in me riding a horse of such high profile."
Tom Dascombe's Boomer obliged as the 5/2 favourite in the Ladbrokes Prestige Stakes, following up an impressive maiden victory at Newbury with a narrow verdict under Richard Kingscote.
Owner Andrew Black said afterwards: "I didn't like her much at the start of the year. I thought she was a bit weak and empty. She has really filled out and is a different horse. She has filled out since Newbury and I love her now."