SPRUZZO, the 100-1 outsider of the dozen contenders in the Pontefract Marathon Handicap Stakes on Tuesday, defied the odds to land Britain’s longest handicap race on the Flat (writes Graham Orange).
Given a patient, well-judged ride by Kelly Harrison, Spruzzo (trained at Middleham in North Yorkshire by Chris Fairhurst), came out on top in a thrilling finish to hold on gamely and win by a length and a half from Night Orbit.
Descaro - the winner of a stayers’ race at Pontefract a fortnight earlier - came third .
Spruzzo will now be aimed at a race for stayers at Ripon on Friday, May 6 - a race he won last year.
The champion jockey of last season, Paul Hanagan took the opening race - a contest for maiden two-year-old fillies - when partnering the debutant Ebony Clarets (5-1) to a half a length victory.
Trained at Malton by Richard Fahey, Ebony Clarets started slowly, but made up ground quickly in this race over the minimum distance of five furlongs to snatch the lead near the line.
Former champion jockey, Ryan Moore made his only ride of the afternoon count when he guided the 8-15 favourite Chiefdom Prince to victory in the race for maiden sprinters.
Royal Ascot could be on the agenda for this colt, trained at Newmarket by Sir Michael Stoute, who prevailed by an impressive three lengths.
The feature race of the afternoon, the RIU Palace Meloneras Handicap Stakes, a contest for sprinters over six furlongs, went to the veteran Flipando (7-1), the mount of Graham Gibbons.
Trained at Maunby near Thirsk by David Barron, Flipando was winning for the twelfth time and the ten-year-old had three-quarters of a length to spare over Internationaldebut.
Lincolnshire trainer, James Given continued his good start to the season, when Szabo’s Destiny (12-1) - given a fine tactical ride by Paul Mulrennan - had to battle to victory by three-quarters of a length from Prince Freddie to clinch The Cornmarket Handicap Stakes, a contest for three-year-olds over one mile and a half.
Count Bertoni (11-1) dictated proceedings in the Yorkshire Business Forum Handicap Stakes (one mile) to win decisively by three and a half lengths in the hands of Silvestre de Sousa.
Trained near Malton by David O’Meara, Count Bertoni overcame a wide draw to eventually dominate the race.
The final race of the day, a handicap contest over one mile and a half for apprentice jockey, went to Hong Kong Island (13-2), the mount of Edmond Linehan, who rode a winner over hurdles last month.
Trained at Middleham by Micky Hammond, Hong Kong Island took up then lead just inside the final furlong to win by one length.