Grand Cup Stakes: Without A Fight comes out on top at York in Race To The Ebor feature for Simon and Ed Crisford

Ed Crisford was delighted to see Without A Fight stamp his class on the Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Grand Cup Stakes at York.

The five-year-old won in handicap and Listed company in the autumn and kicked off his 2022 campaign by finishing a head second to last week’s Coronation Cup hero Hukum at Meydan.

He subsequently failed to land a telling blow in the Dubai Sheema Classic on World Cup night, but made a pleasing return to British soil when third in the Group Three Al Rayyan Stakes at Newbury last month.

Stepping up in trip but down in class for this one-mile-six-furlong Listed contest, Without A Fight was sent on his way at 4/1 in the hands of Andrea Atzeni as he conceded 3lb to each of his five rivals.

The five-year-old was never too far off the pace set by Kemari and knuckled down well to prevail by a-length-and-three-quarters from the strong-finishing John Leeper.

Crisford, who trains Without A Fight in partnership with his father, Simon, said: “It was a great run and he did it really well.

“They went so slow early and nobody really wanted to go forward, but once he got into a rhythm he settled lovely and he showed his class today, winning with the penalty.

“He quickened away lovely and hit the line really well. Now that he’s won over a mile and three-quarters, it does open up a few more options, so we’ll see.”

Andrea Atzeni in full control as Without A Fight wins at York

Betfair introduced Without A Fight at 14/1 in their market for the Ebor back at York in August, but Crisford is in no rush to firm up plans.

He added: “I think he’d be top-weight in the Ebor, so we’ll just have to see where we go.

“There are no immediate plans. We’ll just have to sit down with Sheikh Mohammed Obaid.

“He’d have plenty of weight in the Ebor, but that is obviously an option. There’ll be plenty of options for him moving forward and hopefully we’ll have a fun year with him.”

Harry Three too good in valuable York sprint

Harry Three looks another exciting sprinter for Clive Cox to go to war with judged on his runaway success in the Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap at York.

The Adaay colt won his first two starts at Kempton last season, but came up short in his hat-trick bid at Southwell early in the new year.

Following successive placed efforts at Newmarket in the spring, Harry Three returned to the Rowley Mile to open his account for the new campaign last month and had the assistance of Ryan Moore in the £100,000 feature on the Knavesmire.

Always travelling strongly, the three-year-old was delivered with his challenge towards the stands rail and powered home to score by just under three lengths, with Lucky Man pipping Devaste to the runner-up spot.

Harry Three and Ryan Moore win at York
Harry Three and Ryan Moore win at York

Cox said of his 15/2 winner: “He’s moved through the three-year-old division so pleasingly and to win a big one at Newmarket last time and follow up here was marvellous. Ryan said very nice things about him, too.

“I’ve not really got any plans in mind. It’s been a work in progress to this point and he’s guiding us into a higher choice of races from here.

“He’s doing it with a bit of confidence and mentally and physically he’s maturing all the time, so I’m delighted.”

Harry Three carries the colours of Clive Cox Racing Ltd. Explaining the ownership, Cox added: “He’s owned by the trainer actually!

“He’s a half-brother to Diligent Harry and unfortunately he was injured and couldn’t go to the sales as a youngster, hence the reason he’s in those colours. It’s a very rewarding situation.

“It’s inevitable he’ll be sold at some point, but he’s been a work in progress and I’m just very pleased that we’ve got him to look forward to.”

Hunt Cup considered for Lion Tower

The Grant Tuer-trained Lion Tower could be set for a swift return to action at Royal Ascot on Wednesday after making it third time lucky at York this season in the JCB Handicap.

Placed twice last month, the 7/2 chance stuck on grimly in the hands of Sam James to beat Young Fire by half a length, prompting Betfair to trim his Royal Hunt Cup odds to 16/1 from 25’s.

Lion Tower wins the JCB Handicap at York for Grant Tuer
Lion Tower wins the JCB Handicap at York for Grant Tuer

Tuer said: “You couldn’t say he didn’t deserve to win, having finished second and third at York. It’s great to see him get his head in front for some very loyal owners who have been with me from the start and this is their first York winner, so they’re thrilled.

“He had a great season last year, winning four times, and has been running well this year. He’s a nice Saturday handicapper.

“The Hunt Cup is a possibility. We’ll see how he is in the morning and I’ll have a chat to the guys, but I would think it’s a possibility he’ll run.”

Alice Stevens was celebrating with victory aboard Zeelandia in the Queen Mother’s Cup Handicap.

Zeelandia hits the line in front at York
Zeelandia hits the line in front at York

Recording her eighth career winner, with six of those having come over jumps, Stevens never panicked on the Ian Williams-trained 33/1 chance, as Brodie Hampson threatened to make all with Throne Hall.

The positive tactics so nearly worked, too, but Stevens and Zealandia reeled her in, scoring by three-quarters of a length.

“I’ve had a few winners pointing, but that’s my eighth winner on the track and to do it at York on a day like this is very special,” said Stevens, whose efforts were rewarded by the traditional prize of winning her weight in champagne.

“When I gave him a squeeze he picked up and I was only hands and heels at the end.”

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