NORTH Yorkshire-based jockey Silvestre de Sousa lit up Monday’s meeting at Pontefract by riding a 557/1 quartet of winners - three of them for Middleham trainer, Mark Johnston (writes Graham Orange).
Third in the race to be champion jockey with 128 winners, de Sousa left the racecourse 12 winners behind the leader and defending champion rider, fellow North Yorkshire-based Paul Hanagan, who drew a blank on Monday.
De Sousa won the last four of the seven races, starting with Colour Vision (11-8) in the longest race of the afternoon, the Phil Bull Trophy Conditions Stakes over two and a quarter miles - the first of Johnston’s winning treble.
After the front-running Dan Buoy began to fade, Colour Vision, who had been running in listed race company, took the lead three furlongs from home to stay on strongly and win by two and three-quarter lengths from the odds-on favourite Fire Fighter. Colour Vision had won a couple of races in July at Haydock Park and Chester and he resumed winning ways in fine style.
The de Sousa – Johnston combination took the final two races with Birdwatcher and Medal Of Valour respectively.
Birdwatcher justified being the 7-2 favourite in the dem Window Solutions Handicap Stakes - a contest for three-year-olds over one mile and a half - gamely holding on by neck from a determined challenge by Body Language.
After winning twice in the spring on the all-weather track at Wolverhampton, this was Birdwatcher’s first victory on turf. Medal Of Valour was returned at 18-1 after landing the final race, a contest for maidens over one mile.
Although defeated on his debut at Chester the previous week, Medal Of Valour showed he had learned from that outing to win emphatically by three and a quarter lengths.
Incidentally, all three of Johnston’s winners were owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al Maktoum.
Poyle Judy (7-4 joint favourite) provided de Sousa with his other winner on Monday, when taking the Farewell Iris Claiming Stakes over one mile by half a length for Hampshire-based trainer Ralph Beckett.
After winning twice at Chepstow in August, Poyle Judy got back to winning ways in this contest for three-year-olds - a race named in honour of Iris Chapman who is retiring from her duties with the course’s caterers CGC Events after 35 years of working in the directors and stewards’ dining room. She was presented with a memento and flowers by the racecourse executive.
Newmarket trainer, Willie Jarvis and jockey Lee Newman combined to good effect when Diverting (11-4 favourite) won the handicap contest for three-year-olds over one mile.
Owned and bred by Anthony Reed, Diverting stayed on resolutely to take the lead well inside the final furlong and win by a neck from Tullius.
It was the filly’s fourth consecutive victory and she displayed battling qualities to land the spoils.
The afternoon’s Nursery Handicap for two-year-olds went to Mince (2-1 favourite), trained at Beckhampton in Wiltshire by Roger Charlton and ridden by Steve Drowne.
Owned by Lady Rothschild, Mince quickened clear in the closing stages to win by an impressive five lengths, to follow up her success last month at Newbury.
Second last month at Goodwood, Cherry Street (7-2) went one better in the opening race, a contest for maiden two-year-olds, prevailing by three and a quarter lengths.
Trained at Kingsclere in Hampshire by Andrew Balding and ridden by David Probert, Cherry Street took up the lead a furlong out and was eased down to claim the victory.
Pontefract’s final meeting of 2011 takes place on Monday, October 17 (2.10pm start).
The feature race is the totepool Silver Tankard Stakes, a listed race for two-year-olds.