Coral Cesarewitch – Romford 925m – £8,000
AAYAMZA ROYALE landed a thrilling Coral Cesarewitch Final at Romford on Friday to help champion trainer Mark Wallis close on Patrick Janssens in the GBGB Trainer of the Year standings – as well as adding to a long list of successes at the track boasted by Imperial Kennels.
Having scored a one-two in last year’s TV Trophy, as well as numbering wins in all the major competitions at the London Road venue, it was Aayamza Royale who plundered the latest GBGB Category One title for Wallis at Romford – but only after one of the races of the year over 925m for the £8,000 first prize.
And the Michelle Brown-trained Micks Little Gem, last year’s Dorando Marathon winner on Derby Final night, played her part in proceedings as the three-year-old broke well on the wide outside and grabbed the all-important early initiative from Zascandil (Kevin Boon), who had gone close to the track record in the heats.
In full flow as they crossed the winning line first time, Micks Little Gem was now being chased by Three Ems (Paul Young), who had secured a handy position inside ahead of Mays Sweetpea (Martyn Wiley) and was a persistent challenger to the leader, closing at the third and fifth bends, but unable to get past the strong-running pacesetter.
Perry Barr raider Affirmed (Pat Doocey) began to pick up down the back straight third time, but so did the eventual winner Aayamza Royale, who was now weaving her way through powerfully and grabbed Micks Little Gem on the run for home for a famous and hugely exciting three-quarters of a length victory in 59.35sec.
Owned by the Ayamzaboys Syndicate, who had struck with Wallis in last year’s Champion Stakes with Aayamza Express and then played their part in a cracking TV Trophy for the kennel with narrow runner-up and former marathon star herself Aayamza Breeze, syndicate members Nigel Smith and Steve Cragg were delighted afterwards.
Cragg said: “She just never gives up and is brilliant to watch,” while Smith added: “We spotted her at Thurles. We like stayers and saw what she was doing after the line and that caught our eye. You’d imagine races like the Dorando and the TV Trophy will be on the agenda but Mark will plot a plan no doubt!”
Wallis himself was thrilled with the November 17 daughter of Ballymac Eske and Ascot Lydia and agreed how special a race the 2020 Coral Cesarewitch had been.
“That was as good a marathon race as I’ve seen, definitely matching Antigua Rum’s last-to-first effort in the Coronation Cup at the start of the year,” he said. “It’s fantastic to win, of course, but Michelle’s bitch (Micks Little Gem) ran a brilliant race.
“Well done to all the team. Lydia (Aayamza Royale) is a tremendous bitch with great trackcraft – and she needed that in the final! We sent her to Ireland when things were quiet here, but she came back in good form. She won her heat of the Stayers Classic up at Monmore, over a trip too short for her, but didn’t get a run in the semis.
“For a bitch who stays well, we know she’s got speed – she did 34.99sec in February – but has changed her style of running. She tends to drop herself out now and then stay on well – and that’s making her a top stayer/marathon performer. We’ve got to look at all the major races for her – but she deserves this on her CV.”
Calling the race on the night was Steve Woodward, who had high praise for what unfolded before his eyes and microphone: “That was one of the most exciting races I’ve ever commentated on in my 26 years at Romford,” he said. “My heart goes out to connections of Micks Little Gem having led everywhere bar the line.”