Etherington seeks blessing from St Wilfrid

These are not days for racegoers with ecclesiophobia. Meetings at Salisbury yesterday, Ripon tomorrow, York next week add up to a tour of the great cathedral cities of England. York Minster, of course, is the oldest and grandest, but its venerability only just shades that of its neighbour to the north-west. St Wilfrid founded Ripon in 672AD and is commemorated in the valuable sprint handicap run within sight of the magnificent 12th-century edifice that still contains the original stone crypt.

St Wilfrid, who was also archbishop at York during his career, was by all accounts quite a lad by cloth standards, wealthy and educated and not at all averse to the pleasures of life. It would be good to think that he would be flattered by having a race named after him.

With a purse of £60,000, the Great St Wilfrid Stakes is the richest contest run at the pretty course at the edge of the Yorkshire Dales and as such is always keenly contested, particularly by local trainers. A maximum 20-strong field was declared yesterday, more than half of them resident in God's own county.

The top-weight for the six-furlong dash, Fullandby, will be having his third crack at the prize, an occasion which Tim Etherington hopes will be lucky, particularly as the six-year-old appears to have fortune on his side with the draw. Traditionally, high-drawn horses fare best and Fullandby, runner-up two years ago from stall seven and 10th last year from four, need yield the far rail to no-one tomorrow, from box 20.

Fullandby, who won the Portland Handicap last year and signalled a return to form with a runner-up spot at Ayr last month, is as highly rated as he has ever been, but competent apprentice Lee Vickers will take 3lb of the scheduled 9st 10lb off his sturdy back. "It's nice to get a good draw this time," said the Norton-based handler, "and Lee is a sensible, strong lad. It will be a tough race but we're happy with the horse and just need it to go right on the day."

The last time the trophy, a silver statue of St Wilfrid, stayed in Yorkshire was when Dandy Nicholls sent out Ice Planet to win. Tomorrow he fields four, with last weekend's Haydock winner Valery Borzov (drawn 16) perceived as the first string. The ante-post favourite has been one of the nesh southerners, Stuart Williams-trained Hogmaneigh, another with a favourable stall, number 15.

The next bookies' benefit on the list is Wednesday's Ebor Handicap (the Ripon contest is funded by William Hill and that at York by the Tote), for which no fewer than 62 horses were declared yesterday with only 20 places available. Five share favouritism at 8-1 with the sponsors, Bauer, Mad Rush, Milne Graden, Young Mick and Wicked Daze.

The weekend's richest domestic card is tomorrow at Newbury, where the Geoffrey Freer Stakes sees a clash between the high-class stayers Sixties Icon, winner of the St Leger two years ago, and Geordieland, runner-up in the Gold Cup in June, and the Hungerford Stakes marks a step up the ladder for the progressive three-year-old Paco Boy.

But the top quality comes at Deauville on Sunday, where 1,000 Guineas heroine Natagora is set to turn out against the colts in the Prix Jacques le Marois, 12 days after her slightly disappointing third in a fillies' Group One at the Normandy track. "I am really tempted to run her as she is so well," said trainer Pascal Pary yesterday.

Natagora's eight opponents will include Paco Boy's Richard Hannon stablemate Major Cadeaux and, possibly, Peter Chapple-Hyam's Winker Watson. There was a successful raid from Britain yesterday at Deauville when Dar Re Mi, ridden by Olivier Peslier for John Gosden, easily took the Prix Minerve.

* Today's meeting at Newcastle was abandoned yesterday due to a waterlogged track.

Kempton Park tonight: Hyperion's selections 5.55 Woodcote; 6.25 King Olav; 6.55 Key Signature; 7.25 Mille Feuille; 7.55 Came Back; 8.25 Killena Boy; 8.55 Smokey Rye.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Travel
Suite dreams: the JW Marriott in Venice
travelChic new hotels in 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect