Nakeeta made smooth progress through the field to finally land a deserved big pot after a number of near misses in big handicaps
IF at first you don’t succeed try the Ebor again.
That was Scottish trainer Iain Jardine’s philosophy and it paid off big time when Nakeeta landed Europe’s richest Flat handicap at York.
Jardine saddled Shrewd to be runner-up in last season’s Betfred Ebor.
Nakeeta – runner-up five times since his last success nearly two years ago – had missed the cut.
This time it couldn’t have gone better. He had just one horse behind him turn for home but he made smooth progress under 5lbs claimer Callum Rodriguez.
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The 20-year-old jockey, who chose racing over boxing, drove him to front a furlong out and they held off rallying 7-1 favourite Flymetothetstars by a head.
Ex-jump jockey Jardine trains just up the road from marriage runaways’ favourite haunt Gretna Green at Lenny Lungo’s old base.
A wedding-style celebration was on the cards when the happy couple – Jardine and Nakeeta – got back to Dumfriesshire.
He said: “You have to keep faith. He’s run some fantastic races, he’s got great form.
“He’s been a wee bit unlucky but he’s progressed the whole way.
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Sure enough he’s had his big day, it’s spot on. I’m thrilled to bits.”
It’s hard to imagine owners Alex and Janet Card are regulars on Jardine’s gallops to watch Nakeeta. Their trip from Kent, where they have a carpet business, to see their trainer in Scotland must be one of the longest of any racehorse owners.
The pair still faced a 280-mile trek to get to York but it was certainly worth it.
It was also the biggest win of Rodriguez’s career. He was an amateur boxer in his youth but yesterday was all about punching out Nakeeta for punters on at 12-1.
He said: “I’ve been riding him out quite a lot at home. He was really well and I was confident coming into today.
“He’s always very consistent and he’s been an unlucky loser a lot of times.
“It worked out perfectly today.”
It also worked out well for Scunthorpe United chairman Peter Swann. His Sands Of Mali ran away with the Group 2 Gimcrack.
The 14-1 shot was Richard Fahey’s first winner of York’s premier race for two-year-olds at his local track.