William Knight ended what he described has been a ‘frustrating’ season on the turf in perfect fashion after Checkandchallenge made the most of a significant drop in class to gain a deserved first success of the campaign in the Mutasaabeq At The National Stud James Seymour Stakes at Newmarket today.
Having been set some stiff assignments since the turn of the year the son of Fast Company, who finished fourth in Group One Queen Elizabeth II Stakes for the second year running on his latest start, enjoyed a deserved change of luck dropped back down to Listed company.
Anchored close to the rear of the field through the early exchanges of the mile and a quarter prize, which has been won by subsequent Group One winners Bay Bridge (2021) and Lord North (2019) in recent years, the 6-1 chance steadily worked his way into contention under Callum Shepherd.
Once hitting the front victory looked to be a formality however Checkandchallenge was made to pull out all the stops by rallying favourite, and early pace setter, Pride Of America before getting the better of their late battle by a neck.
Knight said: “He has run in some hot races this year and I don’t think he has actually run a bad race in any of them. Dropping back into a Listed race today it was just nice to get his head back in front.
“I know the distance between them was a long way at Ascot the other day, but he was fourth in a Group One and he picked up a good bit of prize money and he had some nice horses behind him.
“I’m very happy with him. I think a mile and a quarter is right for him. We went back for the stiff mile at Ascot as we felt on that track it was going to suit him and he got his just rewards.
“He can cope with those extremes out there today where a lot of other horses can’t.
“It has been a frustrating year for us as our three-year-old team has let us down a bit, but hopefully we have some nice yearlings this year and we can regroup and have a strong year next year.”
Although Checkandchallenge holds an entry in the Group One Hong Kong Mile next month the Newmarket handler admits he is unlikely to take up that option.
He added: “I think he will have a well-deserved break now. He is in the Hong Kong Mile, but I think he deserves a nice break.
“There will be plenty of options for him next year. Horses like him can turn up in those Group One races that cut up a bit and pick up a bit of money.
“We might also look at those Group Three and Group Two races in France again next year. I’m just so pleased he has finished on a winning note this year.”
With the advance abandonment of Doncaster’s card next Saturday, today at Newmarket was the last day of the Flat turf season. The final contest of the 2023 campaign, the seven-furlong Betfred “Passionate About Sport” Handicap, went the way of Dirtyoldtown (Dylan Cunha/Kyle Strydom, 22-1).