Queally delight after Twice Over lights up Eclipse
There were, inevitably, three cheers for the trainer as Henry Cecil unsaddled Twice Over after the Coral-Eclipse Stakes here yesterday, but the punters in the payout queue will have offered thanks to his jockey too.
Tom Queally grabbed control of the race in the early stages, as he judged that pace was lacking and set out to make it himself, and then judged the fractions perfectly to win by a fast-diminishing half-length.
It looked a little frantic in the closing stages as the 33/1 chance Sri Putra closed with every stride, but Queally had already won the race with a burst of speed three furlongs out that saw off the challenge of Dar Re Mi, his main market rival. Viscount Nelson, the only three-year-old in the field, was third, with Dar Re Mi, which should improve for her first race in three months, back in fourth.
Cecil has never been one to punch the air in victory, and rarely went beyond his familiar half-smile in the winner's enclosure, though he did point to his neck and suggest that the warmth of the crowd "gets you there, you know" as he waited to receive his trophy. This was his fourth win in the race, but the first since 1978, six years before Queally was born.
"We'd decided that if the pace wasn't fast enough that he'd lengthen and take it from the front for a change," Cecil said. "He'd been in front too long and he thought he'd done enough at the end, and he lost a shoe. He has to have stick-on shoes because you can't put a nail in his feet.
"Tom gave him a great ride, and he's doing so well. He's a great jockey to look forward to in future years too. I said to the Prince [Khalid Abdullah, Twice Over's owner] that I wish every day could be like this, but you can't be too spoilt, can you?"
Looking ahead, Cecil said: "He's in everything now, like the Juddmonte [International] and the Champion, and we might have another go at the Dubai World Cup.
"We'll see what the Prince wants to do, but I'd love to have another go at the Dubai World Cup. I thought I'd win it last year and it just didn't go right, he was drawn wrong, he hit himself and he just didn't race. I couldn't believe it, I know that there's no such thing as a good thing in racing, but I did think he was one."
Queally rode five Group One winners in 2009, four of which came in the second half of the season, and he will hope to build on yesterday's win as the racing programme moves on towards Newmarket, York and Doncaster.
"On his Prince of Wales's Stakes running last year, you wouldn't have dreamed of making the running on him," Queally said, "but this year [in the same race] he was staying on really well at the end, so I didn't need asking twice.
"I was screaming for the line to come at the end, but thankfully it did. I'm delighted for Henry and the Prince, and most of all for the horse himself. He's a wonderful character, a lovely personality and I've ridden him work from day one, even when Richard Hughes was the jockey [to Prince Khalid]. I knew he had ability and I was mad about the horse, so I got a real kick out of this."
Twice Over is unlikely to get beyond a mile and a quarter, but Dar Re Mi is a mile-and-a-half performer and was eased in the King George betting to 10/1 (from 7/1) by Hills after yesterday's fourth place. The race did not really unfold as she would have liked and given that she looked like the race would bring her on with the rest of the season in mind, the 20/1 (from 14/1) with the same firm for the Arc could be a fair each-way bet.
The July meeting at Newmarket next week is the next major festival on the racing calendar, with the July Cup likely to be run on Friday for the last time, with a switch to Saturday planned from 2011.
Starspangledbanner, the winner of the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, was one of 17 five-day declarations for the race yesterday, and is a warm favourite at 7/4 with Ladbrokes and Coral.
Meanwhile, it was girl power all the way at Haydock as Hayley Turner gave Barshiba a brilliant ride to win back-to-back renewals of the Bet365 Lancashire Oaks.
David Elsworth's six-year-old had sprung a surprise 12 months ago as a 12/1 winner but was sent off the 7/2 second-favourite on this occasion.
Nothing else seemed keen on making the running so Turner, partnering the Jeff Smith-owned mare for the third time, took the initiative. Barshiba is blind in one eye having been kicked by her mother as a foal, but it has not harmed her talent and despite seemingly setting the race up for the likes of Les Fazzani, Grace O'Malley and Lady Jane Digby, she found plenty for pressure.
It was the most prestigious win of Turner's career, coming as it did at Group Two level, and she held off the late thrust of Polly's Mark by three-quarters of a length.