Bell chimes victory for Waarif

Waarif belatedly opened his account for David O’Meara and Middleham Park Racing in the historic AGMA Stablemate Carlisle Bell.

With a total prize fund of just over £31,000 up for grabs, the one-mile contest was the main attraction on one of the biggest days of the year at the Cumbrian circuit.

The bells themselves are reputed to be the oldest sporting trophy in the world, having first been presented in 1599 when Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne.

Middleham Park had landed the prize two years ago with the Keith Dalgleish-trained Edgar Balthazar and were double-handed in their bid to strike again, with 6-1 shot Waarif joined by Mulligatawny from Roger Fell’s yard.

Widely unconsidered 40-1 shot Raselasad cut out much of the running, but Waarif was always on his tail under 5lb claimer Conor McGovern and came home best to score by three-quarters of a length.

Tim Palin, racing manager for the winning owners, said: “The Carlisle Bell is coming home! We won it two years ago with Edgar Balthazar, who broke the track record, and I’m told Waarif has broken his track record today.

“That was his 13th run for us and his first win. We actually wrote to the handicapper about him as he’d been been campaigned honestly but has been victim of his own consistency.

“We’ve had this in mind for a couple of runs and for the horse to a win a race of this stature is great.

“I think he deserved it.”

Aasheq claimed his third success from four starts since joining Tim Easterby in the totesport.com Cumberland Plate.

Formerly trained in Ireland by Dermot Weld, the five-year-old finished an encouraging third on his British debut at Newcastle in April before hitting the bullseye at both Chester and Hamilton.

Burdened with top-weight, he was sent off at 3-1 to complete the hat-trick under David Allan and did so in some style, coming home two and a half lengths clear of Armandihan.

Easterby said: “He’s a lovely horse and a lot of credit has to go to our head lad Martin Hill. He’s very uncomplicated now, but he wasn’t when he arrived and he trains him himself up a hill.

“He handles soft ground, fast ground and the all-weather and he’s doing very well for us.

“Believe it or not this race has been the plan since he won at Chester. The owners are northern-based and said it’s a race they always wanted to win, so it’s great.”

The most valuable race of the afternoon was the #40,000 British Stallion Studs EBF Eternal Stakes.

Leading owner-breeders Cheveley Park Stud fielded three of the eight runners and were rewarded with a one-two, with the Richard Fahey-trained pair of Dance Diva (7-2) and Clubbable separated by just a neck.

Paul Hanagan was the winning rider.

Baby Steps (6-4 joint-favourite) confirmed the immense promise of his racecourse debut with a narrow victory in the Edmundson Cabletech Carlisle Novice Auction Stakes.

David Loughnane’s charge belied odds of 33-1 to finish third behind subsequent Royal Ascot hero Soldier’s Call on his Haydock introduction and showed that effort was no fluke, beating market rival Lorton by a neck in the hands of Ben Curtis.

Loughnane said: “We weren’t surprised he ran as well as he did at Haydock. He’d shown us plenty at home and we’ve always thought a lot of him.

“He was the form horse going into today and we were very confident, but it’s always nice to see them back it up.

“We’ve no major plans. We’ll get him home, make sure he’s safe and sound and go from there.

“He’ll definitely be a better horse next season when he steps up in trip.”

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