Sam Cooke lands York opener

Sam Cooke ridden by Rob Hornby wins the Sky Bet Handicap during Coolmore Nunthorpe day of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival 2021 at York racecourse. Picture date: Friday August 20, 2021. See PA story RACING York. Photo credit should read: Nigel French/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.
Image: Sam Cooke ridden by Rob Hornby wins the Sky Bet Handicap

It has been a long time between drinks for Sam Cooke who finally got back to winning ways in the Sky Bet Handicap at York.

Trained by Ralph Beckett, the five-year-old was a winner on the Knavesmire in his juvenile season - but had been without a win since scoring first time out the following year at Chester's May meeting.

He had been given a chance by the handicapper after running respectably in decent races this term and was produced perfectly by Rob Hornby.

Top-weight Jonny Drama hit the front just outside the furlong marker, only to be immediately challenged by Throne Hall - but the 14-1 chance Sam Cooke quickened up best of all.

Throne Hall stuck to his task well and was only beaten a neck, while Dark Jedi finished strongly for third.

"The key with this horse is the early part of the race, forget whatever else happens," said Hornby.

"If you can get the first half of the race right and he's relaxed and settled, the rest will sort itself out and we were pretty confident going into it that would be the case.

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"The team at home have done a great job getting him relaxed, he went to the start really well today and I was delighted being in (stall) two that I could jump off and not have to ask him for a position.

"I let other horses come across me and got a bit of protection that way, it worked out that way and you could see his class."

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