Thursday 24 May 2018

Lightning strikes again

Oisin Murphy riding Lightning Spear. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Oisin Murphy riding Lightning Spear. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Marcus Armytage

Lightning Spear is in contention for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day in October after swooping late with an impressive turn of speed to win the Group Two Doom Bar Celebration Mile at Goodwood yesterday.

The five-year-old has always been highly regarded by his connections, but has never quite managed to get it together for one reason or another, although his third behind Tepin in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot on his debut for David Simcock this season suggested he was not just a morning glory.

Yesterday, however, once a gap opened for Oisin Murphy, Qatar Racing's stable jockey, the horse quickened past Zonderland and Arod to win by a length-and-three-quarters going away. Michael Stoute's once-beaten favourite Thikiyraat stumbled out of the stalls and was under pressure at halfway before finishing last.

Murphy, who had earlier experienced typical Goodwood bad fortune in the same colours, on the unlucky runner-up Suzi's Connoisseur in the big handicap, said: "A lot of credit must go to David Simcock. I thought we might bypass this race but Jenny, his wife, who rides him out every day, was keen to run."

Simcock described the victory as a massive relief. "We've always thought the world of him," he said. "He was brilliantly nurtured by Olly Stevens and we've just picked up the pieces. It's difficult watching two races and knowing that things have just gone wrong. I'm not one to hype horses, but I think he's really exciting. We've had some decent milers, but none like him. It's hard to keep saying it but I still think he'll prove it.

"I will aim him towards Ascot now and it will be the QEII. I've always said he's the best miler we've had and I believe that next year he will show his true potential."

Stoute might have been disappointed with Thikiyraat's race, but he was on the mark earlier when Platitude romped home by five lengths in the Lewis Badges 1832 March Stakes over a mile-and-three-quarters, in the manner of a potentially smart stayer.

"I thought he'd win, it's just the manner of his win that surprised me," said Stoute, who was winning the race for the seventh time.

The quality of the day's racing was what might become known as 'ITV4' - decent without being deemed good enough for ITV1. From January 1, a minimum of 34 days will be broadcast on ITV's main channel. It seems that the broadcaster, which will take over from Channel 4, has been building a talented young team around its main presenters, Ed Chamberlin and Francesca Cumani.

Having originally hoped it might have everyone in place by the end of the European Championships, the broadcaster has now contacted Hayley Turner, the most successful British female Flat jockey, Sally Ann Grassick, who cut her teeth working for France's Equidia racing channel, Rishi Persad, a member of the current Channel 4 team, and Oli Bell, a Racing UK presenter, to tell them they all have a job working on the new-look terrestrial coverage of the sport.

ITV is expected to confirm the appointments when the team are unveiled in a fortnight.


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