A modern-day record crowd flocked to Lingfield for the first British race meeting on Good Friday as the inaugural All-Weather Championships Finals proved an unqualified success.
The gates had to be closed after nearly 9000 people attended the usually sleepy Surrey course where STG1 million ($A1.8 million) was on offer to horses which had qualified by running at the four artificial surface tracks during the winter.
Grandeur won the feature Coral Easter Classic while Ertijaal may yet take his place in the 2000 Guineas after battling home in the 3YO Conditions Stakes.
Trainer Jeremy Noseda had discarded Grandeur’s weak effort in last month’s Winter Derby as a one-off and the 6-4 favourite was the class act in the line-up.
But it required every ounce of jockey Ryan Moore’s strength and skill to keep the grey in with a winning chance and he only hauled back Dick Doughtywylie as they flashed past the post.
“I said beforehand that today was redemption day and this was redemption,” Noseda said.
“He has shown before that he is suited by racing in America, and he’ll head back there for Belmont in May and June.”
William Haggas’ Ertijaal (4-5 fav), who was a neck behind leading Guineas hope Toormore on his debut last spring, made slightly heavy weather of his reappearance victory on Winter Derby Day and was again required to put his head down.
While Paul Hanagan initially needed to fight the colt a little, he eventually asserted his superiority over Passing Star by three-quarters of a length.
Richard Hills, owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s assistant racing manager, said he hoped the sheikh would give he go-ahead for the Guineas.
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