Lingfield gets that Good Friday feeling
A modern-day record crowd flocked to Lingfield for the first ever 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 9,000 people turned up to create a fantastic atmosphere at the usually sleepy Surrey course, where £1million was on offer to horses which had qualified by running at the four artificial surface tracks during the winter.
Grandeur won the feature £200,000 Coral Easter Classic, while Ertijaal may yet take his place in the Qipco 2000 Guineas after battling home in the 32Red Three Year Old 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 essentially 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," said Noseda.
"I'm slightly disappointed he has made such hard work of it as to me he's better than he's shown.
"He's won, that's the main thing, and I'm thrilled.
"He has shown before that he is suited by racing in America, and he'll head back there for Belmont in May and June."
Moore said: "To be fair it was always going to be very tactical.
"He quickened very well but I had to stop and start again which wasn't ideal.
"Fair play to Jeremy, he mapped him out for this, so it is a good effort by them.
"I was on the best horse and it worked out well. He got a very soft run round."
The other Good Friday meeting, at Musselburgh, drew a big crowd of over 4,000.
Meanwhile, Barry Geraghty will team up with Jonjo O'Neill and JP McManus in his quest to secure an elusive Irish Grand National victory aboard Shutthefrontdoor at Fairyhouse on Monday.
A full field of 30 has been declared for the Boylesports-sponsored event, and the absence of Tony McCoy – sidelined by a four-day whip ban that he incurred on Willie Mullins' Diakali at Aintree – has paved the way for Geraghty to resume his sporadic link with O'Neill.
Geraghty combined with O'Neill and McManus to thwart the McCoy-ridden At Fisher's Cross on More Of That in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham, and punters have latched on to his booking, with Shutthefrontdoor slashed from 20/1 to 12/1.
Mullins has turned to Katie Walsh for last year's runner-up Away We Go to secure his first win in the €250,000 contest, with Paul Townend aboard in-form novice Touch The Eden.
The going at the Co Meath venue remains good to yielding. However, Mullins has expressed reservations about conditions after his leading chaser Arvika Ligeonniere picked up a leg injury there earlier on soft ground this month.
"I'm very worried about the ground at Fairyhouse," Mullins said. "(Arvika Ligeonniere) got injured there the last day after putting in an exhibition of jumping, so I'm disappointed with that.
"I doubt it now if he'll be back. It might be the end of the road for him."