Farhh boosts Godolphin
Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin team received its first significant piece of good news in some time when Farhh emerged a most convincing winner of the JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.
Still dogged by the scandal which saw trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni banned for eight years for administering anabolic steroids to horses in his care, a first British Group One victory of the year would be among the most welcome of more than 200 now collected globally by Godolphin at the top level.
Farhh was clearly demonstrating the loss experienced to the sport by the retired Frankel, which took this race last year and hammered him in both the Sussex Stakes and Juddmonte International.
A first domestic Group One for jockey Silvestre de Sousa, it was achieved in a slightly matter-of-fact way, with Farhh (100/30) drawing four lengths clear of 80/1 outsider Sovereign Debt in spite of a warning from trainer Saeed bin Suroor that he might need his first start of the season.
Creeping into the lead with a furlong of the mile remaining, Farhh put down an early marker for the summer's prestige events, with Aidan O'Brien's 5/4 favourite Declaration Of War weakening meekly into fifth and the proven Cityscape finishing tailed off.
Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, said: "He won really well; it did surprise me as he has been a very difficult horse to train and Saeed has had to tiptoe very quietly with him. It's fantastic, particularly after all the problems we have had in the last few weeks.
"Obviously Saeed is nothing to do with that issue but he has put us back into pole position. It's important, a great boost to the stable."
Looking towards Royal Ascot, Crisford said: "We were slightly concerned about the trip today but he did it so well that maybe we will go to the Queen Anne. He'll be entered for the Queen Anne and Prince of Wales's Stakes, we'll keep options open. He deserved it, he kept on finishing second to the best horse of all time last year."
Bin Suroor will assume control of the Al Zarooni string as soon as the British Horseracing Authority reveals the test results of all Godolphin's Newmarket horses, while Crisford hopes to announce the clear-up of Godolphin's internal investigation over the next few days.
Godolphin earlier landed the JLT Aston Park Stakes when year's Ebor winner Willing Foe (4/1) took his opponents to pieces in similar style.
Joseph O'Brien had a little compensation for the eclipse of Declaration Of War when driving Alan Jarvis newcomer Prince Of Arabia (14/1) clear in the Betfred "The Bonus King" Maiden Stakes.
"I think Joseph had only ridden once for me before, but I think a bit of this one," said Jarvis. "Obviously he's sat on a lot of good horses and I wanted to know what he thought."
At Newmarket, Dundonnell returned to winning ways in the Coral King Charles II Stakes to leave connections with a Royal Ascot poser. The Roger Charlton-trained colt made a rather tame seasonal bow when well beaten into third place behind Toronado in the Craven Stakes.
Dropped back to seven furlongs, he had to overcome willing frontrunner Music Master but eventually ran out a convincing scorer by a length and three-quarters – despite having to concede 7lb to the field. The 15/8 win was Dundonnell's first since landing the Group Three Acomb Stakes last August.
At home, Martin Brassil's Celestial Prospect landed a gamble at Wexford in the Felim O'Rourke Is Finally Getting Married Handicap. Backed from 6/1 into 3/1, the Fran Berry-ridden gelding stayed on well to beat Blue Ridge Lane.