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Giavellotto beats Vauban to defend Yorkshire Cup crown in style at York

It was Giavellotto's day in the Yorkshire Cup, as he defeated Vauban to retain his title at Knavesmire; also on the card, Devoted Queen entered the reckoning for Royal Ascot and Betty Clover wowed the York crowd with Listed victory over five furlongs

Giavellotto wins the Yorkshire Cup
Image: Giavellotto wins the Yorkshire Cup

Giavellotto dominated his rivals to make it back-to-back wins in the Boodles Yorkshire Cup.

Six runners went to post for the Group Two feature on day three of York's Dante Festival, with Tower Of London the 7/4 favourite to provide Aidan O'Brien with a first victory in the race following lucrative winter triumphs in Saudi Arabia and Dubai.

The presence of the Willie Mullins-trained Vauban, a top-class hurdler turned quality Flat horse, added further Irish interest, but neither were able to lay a glove on Marco Botti's defending champion.

Giavellotto, who had finished behind Tower Of London on both of his starts in the Middle East earlier in the year, was a 7/2 shot in the hands of Oisín Murphy, who cut a confident figure in the saddle when looming ominously alongside Vauban and William Buick as the race began in earnest.

The three-times champion jockey had a nonchalant look over his shoulder for non-existent dangers with a furlong still to run and with Tower Of London unable to pick up, Giavellotto put real daylight between himself and his rivals late on, passing the post with four and three-quarter lengths in hand.

Connections of Vauban will doubtless be satisfied with his performance on what was his first competitive outing since failing to fire in the Melbourne Cup in November, but Tower Of London was bitterly disappointing, finishing a well-beaten fifth under Ryan Moore.

Giavellotto bypassed Royal Ascot last year and he is not entered in the Gold Cup this term either, with Botti feeling the two-and-a-half-mile trip is too far for his charge.

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He said: "He loves the track, fortunately, he always shows his best form at York. Earlier in the week I thought the ground might be a problem because we know he acts on fast ground best and the forecast didn't look great, but we've been lucky with the rain.

"The race went to plan, he got into a nice rhythm and while he got to the front a little sooner than we wanted, he galloped all the way to the line.

"It's good to be back and it's a race that suits him, the track is perfect. We've tried several times over two miles and while I'm not saying he doesn't stay, because he has run well a few times, but it does stretch him. The Gold Cup trip is too far for him.

"I'll need to discuss with the owners but the plan was not to go to Ascot. The Irish St Leger I know is in September and the ground could be softer, but it was a race we considered last year and we didn't go but I would say that could be his target. I doubt we'll go to Ascot.

"He put it to bed very easily today but the track suits him well and Oisin gave him a great ride, he was in a lovely rhythm and he picked up well.

"I was a bit shocked he was in front so early, he made them look slow today.

"We have been thinking of running him over a mile and a half eventually, we wouldn't rule it out. Between a mile and a half and two miles, I think I'd rather run him over shorter than further. He's definitely got stronger."

Vauban is entered for the Gold Cup and Buick felt it was a good starting point for the campaign.

He said: "I was delighted, they'll be very happy with that. He's going to get further and he felt he was going to improve for that, so there are plenty of positives to take from it."

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Devoted Queen enters Royal Ascot reckoning with stylish victory

Charlie Appleby's Devoted Queen gave an insight into her ability with a neat victory in the Sky Bet Fillies' Stakes at York.

The Kingman three-year-old, who is out of a good Group performer in Fintry, was unbeaten in two runs before taking this Listed step up.

A Newmarket maiden winner on debut and successful on the all-weather at Kempton subsequently, the dark bay was the 3/1 favourite to record her hat-trick under William Buick.

Devoted Queen and William Buick
Image: Devoted Queen and William Buick

Fitted with a hood to help her settle, the headgear seemed to have the desired effect as she was slotted in midfield for much of the race.

After rounding the bend she began to progress and when asked to go on and win the race she was well able to do so, prevailing by two lengths and gaining quotes as short as 10/1 for the Coronation Stakes.

"That was really nice, she's really grown up and she was very professional," said Alex Merriam, assistant trainer to Appleby.

"The hood definitely helped and Will said she's really improved from her last run so she's going the right way.

"I mentioned it [the Coronation Stakes] to Charlie and he said, 'see what Will thinks'. Will said it's definitely something to consider so we'll see how she comes out of it.

"He also mentioned that she could do with a bit of juice in the ground so that might come into consideration as well, hopefully she's given herself a few options.

"She's doing everything the right way round, I think watching her there you'd stick to the mile for now."

John and Thady Gosden's Spiritual was second under Kieran Shoemark, an improved performance after two well-beaten runs on the Rowley Mile.

"That was a lovely run. She hadn't quite come to herself in the Nell Gwyn, but it was a good run there and I like the way she battled on once she got headed," said the elder Gosden.

"That was a solid, good Listed race and it's nice to get her black type. We've nothing in mind, we're thrilled with that and we'll come up with another Baldrick plan!"

Kevin Ryan's Bolsena was the third-placed horse under Ryan Moore, beaten just over two lengths.

Ryan said: "She's run great. All she's done is gallop to the line, probably hit a bit of a flat spot and stayed on really well again.

"All suggests maybe stepping up in trip. Ryan was delighted with her and said she's progressing well."

Betty Clover has Johnson Houghton in raptures with York victory

Eve Johnson Houghton's Betty Clover came to the fore to land the Clipper EBF Marygate Fillies' Stakes at York.

The Time Test two-year-old, who was bred and is owned by her trainer, won on debut and then came home behind Running Queen when last seen in a Salisbury conditions race.

Moving up in grade to Listed level on the Knavesmire, made ground stealthily on the far side of runners and picked off her rivals in the closing stages of the five-furlong contest to eventually prevail by half a length from Miss Lamai, having started at 12/1. Running Queen was third on this occasion.

Georgia Dobie has been in the saddle for all of the filly's starts and said of the success: "She's really tough, she was a little bit outpaced halfway through and I thought she might need six, but the further she went the better.

"She just got there in time. I think she'll be quite exciting over six, she's home-bred and she's just blossomed into a lovely little filly.

"Everyone just adores her, she's so straightforward which I think is the key really. She's got no quirks, I really appreciate the ride."

Johnson Houghton, who was watching from her local track in Newbury, said: "That was amazing! I think everyone in Newbury knows I won with her! I was a little bit noisy.

"I bred her and I'm so wildly excited, I just can't believe it.

"I thought she had a chance of a place and I thought she had a chance of turning the form round with Running Queen, who got first run on us last time.

"Georgia gave her the most beautiful ride. I'm very proud of my jockey, she doesn't get many chances and she's really good. She should be saluted for that.

"We have to look at Ascot. I don't know which race. It's a very fast five furlongs at York and she travelled all right into it, but we'll have a think."

Karl Burke has a good record in the race and saddled three fillies this time, with Miss Lamai doing the best of the trio under Callum Rodriguez.

"I thought she had it won at the furlong pole, but she was probably in front a little too long and she got a bit lonely," the trainer said.

"We were beaten fair and square on the line. She's a very nice filly. I thought she was the better of my three in the race, but I thought she'd be better over six furlongs later on rather than now. But she's obviously learned a hell of a lot.

"She's a good filly, I'll have to speak to the owners whether we go to Ascot for the Queen Mary. She wouldn't be disgraced, that's for sure."

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