Jockey George Baker enjoyed his second success in a major handicap in a week as, following last Saturday’s length and a quarter win aboard Interception in Royal Ascot’s Wokingham Stakes, the rider partnered the Roger Charlton-trained Quest For More to victory in an emotional John Smith’s Northumberland Plate, the last time the historic contest will be run on Turf with work due to commence in September on turning the Flat track into a Tapeta all-weather surface.
With the late defection of top weight Clever Cookie due to the good to firm conditions the lightly-raced Seamour was sent off the 5-1 market leader but the mount of Silvestre de Sousa used up plenty of early energy in an effort to get a good position from his wide draw in stall 22, a manoeuvre which may have taken it’s toll inside the final furlong as the son of Azamour had nothing left to give in the closing stages.
Well positioned from the start, Roger Charlton’s 15-2 second favourite made his bid for glory at the furlong pole at which point the Willie Mullins-trained Max Dynamite and Martin Harley mounted their challenge along with Nearly Caught and last year’s winner Angel Gabrial, but Quest For Fame was not for passing and ran on for a convincing length and a quarter success and the first prize of £86,226.
The winning jockey enjoyed a trouble-free passage throughout, of which Baker said: ” He travelled great, we needed a smooth run through and we got it. The key to him is his high cruising speed, and he has the ability to get out of trouble. We were drawn well, but you still need a smooth passage and he was slow to stride so I was a bit further back than I wanted to be. This race is very hard to win, as every year there are so many hard luck stories.
There were few hard luck stories from connections of the beaten horses, although Robin Havlin, rider of the third Nearly Caught, claimed: “he might nearly have won if the race was last night as he prefers a bit more cut in the ground.”