Michael Gates showed that he is equally adept at riding winners as well as training them after tasting glory in the 345th running of the Newmarket Town Plate on Saturday.
After finishing fourth in last year’s renewal of the historic three-and three-quarter mile contest, which was founded by King Charles II, Gates was on the mark this time around with a smooth success aboard Handsome Buddy, a horse he both owns and trains.
Following his win in the race, his 30th in the saddle, the 53 year old was presented with receives a Golding Perpetual Challenge Plate, a silver photograph frame, a £125 Golding voucher and a box of Powters celebrated Newmarket sausages.
“How special was that,” said Gates.
“This has been the plan since last year’s race and it has come off. I saved him just for this. That was more exhilarating than Camelot Knight finishing third in the 1997 Grand National. It was a serious buzz.”
Adopting patient tactics aboard the seven-year old, Gates made full use of the son of Presenting’s stamina with him kicking for home four-furlongs out.
Showing no signs of stopping the even money favourite crossed the line several lengths clear of runner-up, the Megan Poulton ridden Spanish Fork.
“I didn’t want him carting off with me early doors so that is why I anchored him at the back,” said Gates.
“He travelled like a dream throughout the race and I waited until we came on to the racecourse proper before I started to make a move.
“I knew where I wanted to be a mile from home having walked the course earlier and I decided I would kick for him about four furlongs out. I was hoping he would last out and he did and he was a case of just keeping him interested.”
While not ruling out a return to make it back-to-back victories in the prestigious contest, Gates who had taken to both the swimming pool and his mountain bike to train for the race, has outlined a plan for his new found stable star.
“I can’t say it will be my last go in the race as if you can keep fit and healthy you never know, and I have a good partner in Maisie supporting me,” said Gates.
“As for Buddy he will now be campaigned over extreme distances this autumn and winter with good breaks in between each race.”