Clever Cookie takes thrilling Yorkshire Cup

5-2 Local favourite takes advantage of Flying Officer’s late withdrawal to win York feature

Local hero Clever Cookie claimed victory in a thrilling renewal of the Betway Yorkshire Cup.

Trained at nearby Malton by former jump jockey Peter Niven, Clever Cookie was a 5-2 chance to secure a fourth win on the Knavesmire.

With pre-race favourite Flying Officer getting loose before the start, leading to his withdrawal, Luca Cumani’s Second Step was the 10-11 market-leader and he travelled strongly to the lead in the straight.

PJ McDonald, standing in for the injured Daniel Tudhope, was caught in a pocket for a while aboard Clever Cookie, but once in the clear he galloped on resolutely to prevail by half a length.


Curbyourenthusiasm, who was last for much of the one-mile-six-furlong journey, came home well to beat Second Step to the runner-up spot.

McDonald said: “It’s a massive feeling for me as horses like this for me to ride are few and far between. To be able to show that if you give me the animal I can get the job done is a great confidence boost.

“I was worried for the first half of the race we were going too slow. The only saving grace was he was completely asleep underneath me.

“When I gave him a little squeeze to pick up, he changed his legs and I thought he wasn’t going to like the ground, but when he knuckled down he really got to the line well.

“I followed Andrea (Atzeni on Second Step), he was the one I wanted to follow when Frankie was out. Things worked out today, it’s super.”

Niven said: “It’s absolutely marvellous. I was a bit worried when Flying Officer came out there might be no pace.

“They’ve dawdled away and that shouldn’t have suited us and the ground shouldn’t have suited us.

“To be fair, he’s always been able to go on decent ground, I’ve just been worried about him. They put a drop of water on (the track) last night and that encouraged me to run.

“He’s overcome loads of obstacles and he’s shown what he’s worth.

“I’m so short of Flat horses it’s unreal. I ride him out myself every day and unfortunately I’m giving three stone to the other staff, so he’s having to do plenty of work!”

Asked whether the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot would be Clever Cookie’s next target, the trainer added: “I know I can’t keep going on about the ground, but that wasn’t dangerous ground, whereas at Ascot, I wouldn’t risk him on a road.”

Earlier Nemoralia proved a different class to her opponents in the Longines Irish Champions Weekend Fillies' Stakes at York.

Jeremy Noseda’s American-bred filly won twice from four starts in Britain as a juvenile before a couple of excellent efforts at the highest level across the Atlantic, placing in the Frizette Stakes at Belmont and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland.

After being sent off the 6-5 favourite for her seasonal reappearance in this Listed event, the three-year-old was always travelling powerfully under an ultra-confident Frankie Dettori.

Once asked to extend, Nemoralia did so with the minimum of fuss and passed the post six lengths clear of Aljuljalah in second.

Thetis ran with promise in third on her first start since last September.

It was a fifth winner in three days at York for Dettori, who said: “She’s a nice filly and she loved this top of the ground. She won like a good filly today.

“Sometimes you get disappointed, but when they pick up like this it’s a joy.”

Noseda said: “She’s been working well and nothing really went right for her in America.

“I felt she could have won the Breeders’ Cup, but she had a setback two weeks before it and they had a lot of rain.

“She’s shown (today) what I thought she was capable of.

“I came here expecting to win, but obviously you hope they do it in that sort of manner.

“I didn’t get drawn to training her for a Guineas — I didn’t want any part of Minding — and since the Breeders’ Cup the plan has been to come here and then Royal Ascot (Coronation Stakes).

“I’ve been thrilled with her at home and I’d hope she’ll improve.”

Part-owner Charlie Pigram said: "She's grown up this year. Last year she did very well and we were frightened about today, but this was her stepping-stone.

“We’re living the dream. I’ve come from nowhere, we’ve got this horse and we’re up there now with the big boys.

“We’ve got one dart and hit the bullseye.”