Day two of the Festival was Ladies Day. It was bright, becoming increasingly sunny, and not as blowy as yesterday. The going was good to firm. The highlight of the card was the Brighton Challenge Cup, with over £20,000 in prize money, and a dramatic finish.
Fourth here yesterday, Imbucato (11/8 fav) was left by Tony Carroll for an overnight stay at the racecourse stables so that he could take part in today’s 7f seller. On his best form, he had an obvious chance. Hellovaqueen set a scorching pace, but tied up in the final furlong to let the favourite sweep past, with Rock In Society following him through three quarters of a length behind.
Imbucato was ridden by Tom Marquand, who was interviewed afterwards on Sky Sports Racing. There he reported that Sylvester Kirk, the trainer of his mount in the next race, told him that Anna Of Sussex (7/1), was worth getting down to 8 stone 10 pounds to ride. It was a 7f maiden, and though his filly – Anna Of Sussex, a January foal – was making her debut, she knew her job. She came down the hill well, took the lead a furlong out, and ground out a one length victory over Cottonopolis, who was outpaced earlier and can do better.
The third 7f event in a row was a Silk Series contest for lady riders. It was a tremendous race, with almost the whole field level coming out of the dip. Baltic Prince made a great attempt to lead virtually throughout, but in the last few strides three others passed him. Finishing fastest on the outside was Pickett’s Charge (3/1 fav), from Brian Ellison’s North Yorkshire yard. Megan Nicholls was riding her 53rd winner on the level. De Little Engine and Oeil De Tigre were beaten a neck and a nose.
There was a terrific finish to the Brighton Challenge Cup, run over 1m4f. There was a lot of jostling for position as the horses arrived at the dip. Agent Basterfield emerged as the leader on the rail two furlongs out, soon to be joined by Htilominio, with Black Kalanisi between them, the meat in the sandwich. The tightly-packed trio strived for the line, neck and neck until the last few strides when the Agent tired. The photo revealed that Htilominio had got home by a short head and a neck. However, the stewards decided he had caused enough interference to Black Kalanisi (8/1) to make a difference to the result, and was demoted to second place. The winner is better known as a hurdler. Jockey Charles Bishop told trainer Joseph Tuite he was positive the result should be overturned.
Tom Marquand completed a treble in the 1m2f handicap aboard Tony Carroll’s Long Call (17/2). Held up last of the five runners, he looked like taking no part in the finish until very late on, running on well in the final furlong to catch Alnadir with 75 yards to go. There was a length between them at the line. The winner, Carroll’s fourth here in two days, may be seen over hurdles before long.
There was a turn-up in the mile handicap. Cristal Pallas Cat’s record of 1-22 didn’t inspire confidence, and he has had problems in the stalls in the past. Today he broke smartly and was always prominent, ignoring the tearaway leader who ran detached from the rest of the field. Another fancied Brian Ellison runner, Arriba De Toda, challenged in the final furlong, but to no avail. The ground forfeited due to a slow start cost him the race. The Cat pulled out more to win by a neck for Roger and Rhiain Ingram at 20/1.
As is often the case, a small-field 5f handicap ended proceedings. Predictably, King Crimson led, and had most of them in trouble coming up the hill. Enthaar (7/2), ridden by Jason Watson for Stuart Williams, was able to gain ground on him and stick his nose in front in the final 50 yards. This half length win was some compensation for Watson, who was first past the post in the Challenge Cup only to lose it in the stewards’ room.