Westover clings on for Classic Trial triumph
Hot favourite Goldspur could finish only third as Westover came out on top in a thrilling climax to the bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown.
Charlie Appleby’s subsequent Derby hero Adayar finished second in the Group Three contest 12 months ago and his stablemate Goldspur was all the rage to go one better as the 6-5 favourite.
A previous winner at the track and third in a Group One in France on his final juvenile start, the Dubawi colt attempted to make all the running under William Buick, but gave best late on.
The Ralph Beckett-trained Westover, who also made a winning debut at Sandown before finishing second on his next two starts, was a 5-1 shot in the hands of Rob Hornby and took over the lead in the last-half furlong despite hanging left.
Having been reluctant to go into the starting stalls and spent most of the race at the rear of the field, Jamie Spencer produced Cash with what looked like a winning late run against the far rail but he was a short head down at the line.
Westover races in the Juddmonte silks and Barry Mahon, general manager Ireland and European racing for the owner-breeder, said: “He won here well and likes the track.
“The uphill finish suits him well and he has very good form as a two-year-old. We felt he improved over the winter and today he showed he probably has.
“There was a very bad thunderstorm that morning at Pontefract before the race (when second on his final start last year) and the ground got very loose and it just didn’t suit him 100 per cent. Ryan (Moore) rode him that day and felt that if he had his time again he would do things a little differently.
“He is a good horse. He is by a great stallion (Frankel) and has a good pedigree and hopefully he will continue to improve.
“He is pretty versatile in regards to ground. Good ground or either side would suit, He is a big horse and might not want it very quick, but good, safe ground would be fine for him.
“There is no plan. He is still in the Epsom Derby. We will go away with Prince Khalid’s family and see what they’d like to do.
“Ralph and Prince Khalid’s family will decide if he has another run beforehand. He looked a little green again today, so if there was a race that fitted well into the programme, then I’d say another run might be no harm.
“He is a horse we have always regarded as could be an Epsom horse and today has probably shown he is on the road, so hopefully he can stay in one piece and continue to improve.”
Hornby added: “He could be a Dante horse.”
David Simcock had no immediate plans for the runner up, adding: “I’m delighted. You don’t know how good they are as we haven’t got too many of those type of horses.
“He has worked well and trained well and worked well with what he has trained with.
“He ran in a maiden that had not worked well at all We hoped he would be a nice horse, and it looks like he is. He finished good and came through the line real strong.
“The fact that he didn’t get a break until late is absolutely irrelevant.”
Alex Merriam, representing Godolphin, said of third-placed Goldspur: “He’s run well and just got beaten by a couple of better horses on the day, simple as that. We’ll see how he comes out of this and then make a plan moving forward.”