So Beloved provides high-flying O'Meara with landmark victory
David O'Meara and Paul Hanagan are not names synonymous with Goodwood, but the trainer and jockey picked opportune moments yesterday to finally make themselves known.
It had been two years since Hanagan's last winner at the track, and an appearance from his employer Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum provided the inspiration to galvanise Muthmir along the far rail in the day's most valuable race, the Qatar King George Stakes.
For O'Meara, who seems to have cracked the sport of racing within six years of taking out his licence, it was his first Goodwood victory of any sort as So Beloved, which has continued to improve since leaving no less an operator than Roger Charlton, caught Belgian Bill close home in the £150,000 Betfred Mile.
The softly-spoken Irishman follows a long line of ordinary jump jockeys excelling when switching sides and codes, with Group One and Royal Ascot triumphs already on the board. This was his 500th career winner, and few will have reached that milestone with such rapidity.
"We've not had too many runners here, although Blue Bajan was only just beaten by Opinion Poll in the Goodwood Cup a few years ago. So Beloved has any amount of ability and settled well today."
O'Meara's 2014 Prix de l'Abbaye winner Move In Time was not far away from completing a high-profile double for his Yorkshire stable, charging through for third, but Muthmir has shown top-level sprint form already and has a low mileage for a five-year-old.
The 3/1 favourite held a rallying defending champion Take Cover by a neck and winning trainer William Haggas was critical of him having to carry an extra 4lb. "It's a rather large penalty and for this money we should be encouraging class horses to come," he said. "He's quick and we'll probably go to the Nunthorpe at York. He'll contest all the five-furlong races and I hope this won't be the last one he wins."
Qatar's sponsorship of the meeting carried a few stipulations, but the one thing that could not have been pre-arranged was a first ever British winner for the Gulf state. Dubday is Qatar's champion racehorse and in the hands of its leading trainer Jassim Al Ghazali. For him to have prepared the chestnut to peak in the Group Three Betfred Glorious Stakes might have caused a few British trainers look over their shoulders in coming weeks.
There have been several big victories for Frankie Dettori in the colours of Sheikh Joaan Al Thani's Al Shaqab Racing this week but none felt as significant returning to a winner's enclosure bedecked with maroon and white national flags.
Satellite Dubday had been given two lead-up runs since arriving in Newmarket, where Al Ghazali suggested he would expand his satellite string from a dozen to 30 next year, and was brought with a timely wide challenge so as to have sailed clear before the 15/8 favourite The Corsican was free from trouble.
Harry Herbert, Al Shaqab's racing adviser, reported the Sheikh to be "over the moon" "I think for the Qataris, this means everything," he said. "He's won the biggest race in Qatar and if you follow racing in Doha, he's not quite the Qatari Frankel, but he's the best-known horse. I thought he might want a bit further but Jassim was adamant a mile and a half was his trip. We haven't thought about further ahead, winning at Goodwood was everything, really."
The silver Al Shaqab silks later dominated the L'Ormarins Queen's Plate as French raider Amy Eria, a 33/1 chance, led home Dettori on the 5/2 joint-favourite Osaila. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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