Riding the River dug in valiantly in deep stretch to hold off a resurgent Valentino Beauty and win Sunday’s Grade 2 $200,000 King Edward Stakes, presented by TVG, at Woodbine.

Riding the River, trained by Dave Cotey and expertly ridden by Todd Kabel, came into the King Edward off a narrow defeat in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup, won by Something Extra.

However, the classy six-year-old Wiseman’s Ferry gelding, a narrow neck winner of the King Edward a year ago, would not be denied in Sunday’s one-mile turf tilt scrapping his way to a head win.

Incredicat and Valentino Beauty, with Edgar Prado in the irons, battled for the lead down the backstretch with Pender Harbour tracking their early foot through an opening quarter in :23.41.

Pender Harbour, making his first start of the season, and Riding the River, were urged into contention through the turn and it was the defending champion who emerged with the lead at the top of the stretch.

Kabel kept to task on Riding the River down the lane as a rail-running Valentino Beauty and a wide-rallying Hotep, tried and failed to reel them in. Riding the River stopped the clock in 1:33.24. Valentino Beauty finished a neck in front of Hotep.

Kabel was pleased with the effort of the hard-knocking Riding the River.

“He made the lead quite easily and then he pulled up and hung on me,” said Kabel. “He had me pretty nervous coming down the lane, but once he saw the one-horse (Valentino Beauty) come up on the inside, he started digging back in again and wouldn’t let him by.”

With front-runners enjoying success on the E.P Taylor Turf Course of late, Kabel was intent on keeping Riding the River close to the pace.

“I was hoping to be closer today, just because of the way the track has been playing,” said Kabel. “It tightened up a lot, more than I thought it would have in the last day. We did put speed into him in his last couple works. He’s working like he’s a three-year-old. He had me sitting perfect and when I called on him he went with me easily enough.”

Riding the River captured a pair of Grade 2 events by a neck, the King Edward (at odds of 13-1) and Nijinsky Stakes (at odds of 9-1), at Woodbine last season with dramatic stretch runs orchestrated by Kabel at long odds.

“He hasn’t had any respect in the past,” said Cotey, of the star gelding who went to post as the even-money favourite. “When I saw 6-5, I thought, ‘Oh no,’ but the old guy took care of him there and bailed us out. I was almost under the table with my eyes shut the last few yards.

Riding the River banked $120,000 in victory, while improving his record to 9-3-2 from 22 career starts.

He returned $4, $2.80 and $2.10, pairing with Valentino Beauty ($3.90, $2.90) for a $12.10 (2-1) exactor. A 2-1-6 (Hotep, $3 to show) triactor was worth $49.40. So Long George completed a $1 superfecta (2-1-6-5) worth $206.35.?