Masterful Eddery gives Ebor favourite the Slip

York Ebor Meeting: Jockeys' championship contender reaches 100 winners for the season in Europe's most valuable handicap
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The Independent Online

Some people are never satisfied, and Pat Eddery is one of them. He is now well into the foothills of middle age, has earned all the money he could ever need, and won 11 riders' championships along the way, but the possibility of a 12th has galvanised him like nothing else could. In recent weeks, Eddery has been riding every race as if it were the Derby, and his performance on Give The Slip in the Ebor Handicap yesterday was not only his 100th success of the season, but probably his finest too.

Some people are never satisfied, and Pat Eddery is one of them. He is now well into the foothills of middle age, has earned all the money he could ever need, and won 11 riders' championships along the way, but the possibility of a 12th has galvanised him like nothing else could. In recent weeks, Eddery has been riding every race as if it were the Derby, and his performance on Give The Slip in the Ebor Handicap yesterday was not only his 100th success of the season, but probably his finest too.

As a rule, fiercely competitive handicaps like the Ebor are won in the final furlong, not the first. Not so yesterday, though, when Eddery somehow managed to seize the early lead on Give The Slip, despite starting the race from a wide draw in stall 16. It was a position he never relinquished, fighting off a series of challenges up the straight, the most threatening being the late thrust of Boreas, the hot favourite at 11-4. As battle was joined, the roar was such that it seemed as if every punter on the Knavesmire was on one horse or the other. In fact, they probably were, for Give The Slip had been backed down to 8-1 from an early price of 12-1, and, when they needed him, Eddery delivered.

And so too did Amanda Perrett, who has been a dear friend to backers in the big handicaps this season. The Chester Cup, the International Handicap at Ascot and now the Ebor have found their way to Sussex, and Peter Jones, the chairman of the Tote and the man who hands out prizes for the races they sponsor, must be running out of small talk where Perrett is concerned. All three races are backed by the Tote, so if she runs one in the Cesarewitch in October, it will probably be worth a punt.

Guy Harwood, Perrett's father, won the Ebor when Amanda was still in nappies, and Give The Slip's owner, John Bodie, has had horses in their Pulborough yard for 30 years. "I've known Amanda since she was born,'' he said afterwards, "and the biggest thrill for me today,'' he said afterwards, "is that I've seen her grow up and seen her talents blossom.''

Give The Slip, a three-year-old, is entered in the St Leger, but not the one at Doncaster which completes the season's Classic cycle. Instead, he is in the German version, and that, as Bodie pointed out, "is not quite the same thing.'' It seems likely, though, that Group races, rather than handicaps, will be the next step for Give The Slip, and he showed such tenacity in the final two furlongs yesterday that he will surely continue to flourish.

So too should Petrushka, the winner of the Yorkshire Oaks, who found a burst of speed a furlong from home which even the last two winners of the Oaks at Epsom, Love Divine and Ramruma, could not match.

In doing so, she initiated a remarkable double for Harry Herbert, who runs not only the Highclere Thoroughbred Racing syndicate, which owns Petrushka, but also the Royal Ascot Racing Club, which owns Bannister, who emerged best in a three-way photo finish for the Gimcrack Stakes barely an hour later.

"I think Michael [Stoute] wants to take it one step at a time with Petrushka,'' Herbert said. "Initially he said we'd consider the Arc, but we may decide to miss the Arc this year and go to the Champion Stakes and then the Breeders' Cup Fillies and Mares on the turf (11f). That would give her a chance to have a break now, and the shareholders have all agreed to keep this filly and race her next year, which is fantastic. She's got such a great cruising speed and turn of foot that America should really suit her.''

Johnny Murtagh, who this season has been winning Group Ones almost on a weekly basis, was the jockey on both Petrushka and Bannister, while Stoute too completed a double later in the afternoon thanks to the victory of Ghayth in the Convivial Maiden Stakes. Though a maiden in name, this race is almost invariably won by a top-class juvenile, and the word before yesterday's running was that King Charlemagne was among the best two-year-olds in Aidan O'Brien's yard. That he may be, but Ghayth is better, and he will be a horse to follow as the campaign reaches it peak.

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