Farhh puts injury woes behind him to win Champions Stakes
Johnny Murtagh has memorable day at Ascot with Royal Diamond
Princess Beatrice presents Royal Diamond jockey Johnny Murtagh with both the jockey and trainer trophies after his success on Royal Diamond in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA
Farhh ended his injury-littered racing career on a high with a brave victory in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.
Training troubles have restricted the Godolphin-owned five-year-old to just 10 races, but he has never been out of the first three and was winning for a fifth time.
And he goes to Dalham Hall Stud on the back of a hard-fought victory, despite being off the track after winning the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May.
Advertising the skills of his handler Saeed bin Suroor, Farhh (11 to 4) needed stamina and courage in equal fashion but his Brazilian jockey Silvestre de Sousa kept him up to his work to hold off the 2011 winner Cirrus Des Aigles by just a neck.
Aidan O’Brien’s Ruler Of The World, the Epsom Derby winner, was half a length away in third.
Both the first and second had been no match for Frankel last year but with one champion retired to stud, the space was there for another star to emerge.
Cirrus Des Aigles ran an amazing race for a seven-year-old and Ruler Of The World bounced right back to his best after disappointing in the Arc two weeks ago.
Of the rest, Hillstar ran too keen early on, while Mukhadram, employing different tactics after being dropped out, stayed on one-paced to finish fifth, with Farhh’s stablemate Hunter’s Light fourth after making the running.
Bin Suroor said: ”He’s a great fighter – every year he has had problems. He won first time out as a two-year-old and was then injured. We’ve always had problems with him and he has to have a different programme of training to all the other horses in the stable.
“I know this horse well and he has class. The ground was the question mark for him today. He had not run on anything as soft as this.
”You have to look after him really well just to keep him sound. It wasn’t really easy to train him, if you put any pressure on you know what will happen.
“He looked the best ever today and he ran his greatest race. He is a great horse and I’m so happy.”
Aidan O’Brien said of Ruler Of The World: ”He has run a tremendous race against older horses and he’s another horse to look forward to next year over 10 furlongs or a mile and a half.”
Olympic Glory routed the opposition in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Richard Hannon’s three-year-old burst through a narrow gap between Top Notch Tonto and Aidan O’Brien’s Kingsbarns a furlong out and the race was over as a contest.
The supplemented Top Notch Tonto ran an unbelievable race to finish second, but Richard Hughes was able to coast home aboard the blinkered Olympic Glory (11 to 2) to win by three and a quarter lengths.
Those who believed Johnny Murtagh’s career in the saddle was winding down when he took out a licence to train earlier this season were proved wrong once again as the evergreen pilot steered his own Royal Diamond to a thrilling victory in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup.
Top jockey at Royal Ascot and winner of the King George on Novellist, Murtagh has mastered the Berkshire track this year.