Andrew Balding is enjoying a memorable Qatar Goodwood Festival, and moved to the head of the leading trainer award when Scorching Heat won the Qatar Stewards' Sprint Handicap and became his third winner of the week - he also has three seconds on the scoreboard.
Loudly cheered by racegoers enjoying a sunny interlude in what is likely to be a showery day, the favourite burst into the lead inside the final furlong and won by three-quarters of a length from Tommy G and Son Of Africa. Royal Brave was fourth, and those studying the result with the draw and today's Qatar Stewards' Cup in mind will be confused by the finishing order - Scorching Heat came from stall 12, Tommy G 18, Son Of Africa 3 and Royal Brave 2.
The first four finished in the middle of the track, and Oisin Murphy, who rode the winner in the colours of Qatar Racing, said: "I didn't know where the best ground would be, but when I cantered to the start I noticed tyre tracks or something similar in the middle, as though Jeeps had been there, and I just thought any divots that would be there might have been knocked down.
"I've no idea if that's the best place to be, but that's where I went.
"It's great to ride a winner for Qatar Racing [he is retained as that organisation's first-choice rider] and also for Andrew Balding. It's a big team effort, and the staff put up with times when the horses are running good and bad - it's fantastic they are being rewarded with winners during this big meeting."
Balding said: "He's a decent horse, but I'm delighted we even got into the race - I didn't for a minute think we would. This is his sort of ground. He needs a strongly-run race, and it's difficult to believe we haven't been able to get cover for him before today. He won, and he needs things to fall right for him - the faster they go in front the better. Everything fell right for him today.
"These are difficult conditions on which to make up any ground, but if you are there with a chance with a furlong to go you are going to be difficult to get past.
"I should think he could be an Ayr Silver Cup horse this year, and, hopefully, a [Qatar] Stewards' Cup and Ayr Gold Cup horse next year."
Mark Johnston gets third winner of the week
Soldier In Action wins Qatar Summer Handicap
As soon as trainer Andrew Balding bagged a third winner at the Qatar Goodwood Festival in the day five opener, Mark Johnston matched the achievement with Soldier in Action in the mile and six furlongs Qatar Summer Handicap, the horse getting up on the line to beat Blakeney Point by a head.
Johnston, who always likes to target this meeting with runners, said: "What a fantastic finish to have so many involved, it happens so often at this track. This race is over a mile and six, and you get a more exciting finish than you will see in a sprint.
"It is a bit sad that these middle-distance sires go off to the jumping game, there are so very few of them about. The [middle-distance bred] horses we've had have all been tough and consistent; I wish I could buy more of them!
"It wasn't planned to win a head, and I thought with a furlong and a half to go he's going to come and win this, and then I thought he isn't as the others in front of him seemed to be picking up again. He'll probably go for the Ebor next.
Although Johnston, a 10-time leading trainer at the Qatar Goodwood Festival, matched Balding with a third winner this week, the Hampshire-based Balding is still ahead on count back.
G3 Qatar Gordon Stakes
Sir Michael's tenth Qatar Gordon Stakes winner is a real gem
Crystal Ocean put clear water between himself and four rivals to run out an impressive winner of today's G3 Qatar Gordon Stakes.
He became the tenth winner of the famous race for trainer Sir Michael Stoute, who won it last year with Ulysses. A measure of the standard required to take the contest can be gleaned from the previous two winners, for Ulysses - who this year has won the G1 Coral-Eclipse Stakes and was second to brilliant Enable in the G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes - was preceded by multiple Group One winner Highland Reel in landing the Qatar Gordon Stakes.
Crystal Ocean, who is owned by Sir Evelyn Rothschild and was bred at his family's Southcourt Stud, has to go some to match their record, but he holds an entry in the G1 St Leger, and is clearly well-regarded by his trainer.
After the son of Cape Cross had beaten Khalidi by three and a half lengths, with Mount Moriah back in third, Sir Michael said: "We have loved this horse from early days - he's a lovely stamp of a horse with a good mind. He goes on soft ground - we know that because he did so in the Dante - but today's going was a big concern being among the worst you can get after such phenomenal rain.
Lancelot a first Qatar Stewards' Cup and Qatar Goodwood Festival winner for Ivory
Hertfordshire trainer Dean Ivory saddled his first Qatar Goodwood Festival winner today, and in one of the meeting's feature races.
Victory for the Ivory-trained Lancelot Du Lac in the £250,000 Qatar Stewards' Cup over six furlongs was a second win in the contest for jockey Frankie Dettori, who succeeded on Magical Memory in 2015. Dettori made plenty of use of seven-year-old Lancelot Du Lac, keeping clear of bunching before coaxing his partner home three-quarters of a length ahead of runner-up Aeolus. Upstaging was a further nose behind in third, a head in front of fourth-placed Growl. The favourite Sir Dancealot was soon at the back of the 26-strong field, and finished 22nd. The starting stall positions for the first four horses were, in order: 15, 12, 7 and 8.
Dettori is not a regular rider of Ivory's horses, in contrast to Robert Winston, but the last-named jockey partnered Stake Acclaim who finished 15th, putting up a better show than his finishing position suggests.
MARK JOHNSTON SEALS HIS 11TH LEADING TRAINER AWARD WITH EXCITING MAIDEN WINNER DEE EX BEE
Mark Johnston takes the leading trainer award at the Qatar Goodwood Festival with four winners. It is the 11th time that the Middleham-based trainer has been the most successful trainer at the five-day meeting.
"It means a lot to me to be leading trainer here," said Johnston. "We always throw a lot of darts at the board, but we didn't have as many runners as some people here this year as we were a bit thin on the ground - it is a big relief to get four winners. I was very worried about the rain, but the week has worked out well, better than expected."
Johnston's fourth winner of the week came courtesy of Dee Ex Bee, a Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum-owned and Godolphin-bred son of Farhh from the family of Dubai Millennium, who won the seven-furlong Qatar EBF Stallions Maiden in good style by two and a quarter lengths in 1m 28.62s.
"He is a very, very good looking horse and has been working very well at home. He
DE SOUSA SPOILS HAYLEY'S DAY WHEN BRINGING UP A 188/1 TREBLE
Champion jockey-elect Silvestre De Sousa rode a 188/1 treble on the final day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival 2017, completing the set on Battered in the Qatar Handicap over seven furlongs.
The William Haggas-trained winner (7/2) inched ahead near the line to defeat long-time leader Sir Titan (7/1) by a head, with Medahim (7/2) back in third. De Sousa had to be at his strongest to get Battered home in front - the gelding wore blinkers for the first time, yet looked slightly reluctant to take the lead in the closing stages - but the jockey's effort denied his colleague, Hayley Turner, on the runner-up.
Khalifa bin Mohammed Al Attiya: No decline in our results
Al Shaqab Executive Director, Khalifa bin Mohammed Al Attiya confirmed that the there has been no decline in Al Shaqab’s results in this edition of the Qatar Goodwood Festival given the number of runners Al Shaqab had in this edition. “The heavy rains on the second day of the Festival resulted in the withdrawal of a number of Al Shaqab’s runners and some of these were favourites”, he said, “Even Zelzal, who ran in Qatar International Stakes (Gr 1 P/A), didn’t win because of the soft ground. We were also concerned about Al Jazi’s participation yesterday with the soft ground, but she imposed herself and won the Group Three seven-furlong L'Ormarins Queens Plate Oak Tree Stakes.
“Why is the focus on Al Shaqab alone? What did the major farms, including Coolmore and Godolphin, do in the Qatar Goodwood Festival? The number of horses Al Shaqab has is nearly 15% of the horses each of them have. Evaluation, therefore, should be based on objective facts. Al Shaqab has had a huge interest in breeding recently and the outcome of such trend will be realised soon both for thoroughbreds and pure Arabians. We will not stay on top alone in every race because there are others who work hard and know very well the value of work in this area. In addition, Europe’s top horses run in the Qatar Goodwood Festival and this makes the races tougher,” added Al Attiya.
Fahad Al Kuwari: Pleased with presence of Qatari students in England
Assistant Cultural Attaché of the Embassy of Qatar in the UK, Fahad Mohammed Al Kuwari said “We, as Qataris, are pleased with QREC’s sponsorship of the Qatar Goodwood Festival as a one of prestigious racing events worldwide and not only in England. It was very interesting to see the huge turnout over the five days of the Festival, which adds to the event and the Qatari sponsorship. In addition, it was wonderful to see Qatari students here as they were invited to attend the event. QREC provided transport for them from London to Goodwood and I do thank QREC for this very good gesture.
“The two wins by Al Shaqab’s Al Jazi and HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani’s Tayf in this edition of the Qatar Goodwood Festival underline the fact Qatar’s horseracing and equestrian sport are progressing. We look forward to more in future and to further promoting the standing of Qatar worldwide,” concluded Al Kuwari.
Hassan Al Hammadi: Success of Qatar’s sponsorship of the event
Hassan Al Hammadi, of QNB London, presented the trophies to the winners of the Race 5, Qatar EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes. “The Festival is a huge success every year and it underlines Qatar’s role in such prestigious sports events”, he said, “We are fascinated of what we have seen on the final day with such huge turnout due to the significance of the event in the UK. The racing and everything involved was brilliant by all means. Qatar’s name has been promoted very well here with dozens of thousands of spectators attending the Festival, which I expect will go from strength to strength with the continued Qataris sponsorship one year after another.”