Saturday 3 December 2016

Moore makes no mistake on 'Gurkha'

Marcus Armytage

Published 28/07/2016 | 02:30

The Gurkha ridden by jockey Ryan Moore (second from right) on the way to winning the Qatar Sussex Stakes. Photo: John Walton/PA Wire
The Gurkha ridden by jockey Ryan Moore (second from right) on the way to winning the Qatar Sussex Stakes. Photo: John Walton/PA Wire

If Ryan Moore makes a mistake he is not in the habit of repeating it and, if he did make a tactical error in the St James's Palace Stakes on The Gurkha, he more than made up for it in yesterday's Sussex Stakes when the Ballydoyle colt narrowly gained revenge on his Ascot nemesis, Galileo Gold, in a pulsating finish.

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At Ascot, Moore and Chris Hayes, on Irish Guineas winner Awtaad, had appeared so intent on watching each other at the back of the field that they let Frankie Dettori and Galileo Gold get away and were never quite able to reach them, despite staying on strongly through the final furlong.

Here, Dettori set off by doing the donkey work on Galileo Gold and making the running but, crucially, instead of being six lengths behind him, Moore and Hayes were almost clipping his heels. And while it worked out very well for The Gurkha, the strongly-supported 11/8 favourite, the tactic worked against Awtaad which, Hayes admitted afterwards, might be better ridden with more restraint after dropping away to finish eighth.

With just over a furlong to go, however, Moore pulled The Gurkha out of Galileo Gold's slipstream into the gap left by the back-pedalling Awtaad and reeled the English 2,000 Guineas winner in with a perfectly-timed challenge to win by a neck. The Jersey Stakes winner Ribchester flashed home fastest on the outside and was just a short head back in third in a finish dominated by this year's three-year-olds.

For a horse that never ran at two, The Gurkha has had what Aidan O'Brien described as a "big career crammed into a short space of time".

The past four of his six career starts have been in Group One company and the trainer was worried beforehand that his second behind Hawkbill on soft ground in the Eclipse 25 days earlier might have left its mark.

"He is very fast with lots of speed," he said. "I was worried after Sandown that we had dragged him in the soft ground up that stiff hill, I was worried it had taken it out of him. He's very courageous. He was even out of his comfort zone on the soft ground at Ascot too. He's a miler who'll get a mile and a quarter on fast ground. We haven't locked him up or protected him and it's been tough on him."

The win was a second £1 million plus success for O'Brien and Moore in five days after Highland Reel's King George and it took the trainer's earnings in Britain this season to £4.5 million, £2.7 million more than his nearest rival John Gosden. Moore is only four winners off Silvestre de Sousa in his own title race, but is already nudging £5 million in domestic earnings, a staggering seven times more than De Sousa. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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