Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 25 March 2018

'Queen' stuns Golden Horn

Golden Horn (left) loses out to Arabian Queen (right) under Silvestre de Sousa in the Juddmonte International at York
Golden Horn (left) loses out to Arabian Queen (right) under Silvestre de Sousa in the Juddmonte International at York

Marcus Armytage

In the space of a few hours York's Juddmonte International went from the 'race of the century,' to the 'anti-climax of the century' before, ultimately, ending up nearer the 'surprise of the century'.

This all came about after Aidan O'Brien's decision to withdraw Gleneagles due to the softening ground, which paved the way for 50/1 outsider Arabian Queen inflicted a first defeat on Derby winner Golden Horn.

The International was born with a reputation of shocks when Brigadier Gerard suffered his only defeat in an 18-race career in the inaugural running and the Knavesmire certainly has its own reputation for surprises. But if the measure of these things is starting price, then yesterday's was up there with the biggest.

But, take nothing away from Arabian Queen. She was locked in battle upsides Golden Horn throughout the last furlong, was briefly headed, then fought back and would not be denied. Eventually it was Golden Horn which cracked and she won by a hard-fought half-a-length.


There was a gap of three-and-a-quarter lengths back to the third, The Grey Gatsby - he had finished an almost the identical distance behind Golden Horn in the Eclipse last month - with Time Test fourth. For a third Group One race in succession one of the main draw cards, Gleneagles, remained in his stable on account of the ground.

The winner was given a positive ride by Silvestre de Sousa, whose trump card was to ignore Golden Horn's pacemaker Dick Doughtywylie and lead the main group at a pace just half a stride too slow for Dettori, whose arms were being pulled out of their sockets, by the over-fresh Golden Horn.

"It didn't happen," said Dettori. "He was too fresh having missed the King George. He lost a lot of energy and on that ground he couldn't skip away like he usually does."

The outcome, with some minor involvement from the elements, was engineered by the brilliant dual-purpose trainer of the last 40 years, David Elsworth. The trainer, who forever will be associated with Desert Orchid, won the International in 1990 with In The Groove and while Arabian Queen might not quite be in that league yet, with the Derby winner's scalp under her belt, she cannot be far off it.

Owner-breeder Jeff Smith observed that until yesterday there was no line between this year's three-year-old fillies and the colts and just because the colts look exceptional, it doesn't follow that the fillies are no good. "Legatissimo looks exceptional. I didn't think she'd win but thought she'd be first three," he said.

Elsworth added: "She's a filly of the highest class. She's tenacious and loves to battle. If we hadn't turned up today, they would be hailing the favourite as the best horse since Frankel.

There was controversy earlier in the Great Voltigeur Stakes when O'Brien's Bondi Beach lost out by a half-length to Storm The Stars after being carried across the racecourse by the Willie Haggas-trained colt, and Joseph O'Brien's mount then lost out in the subsequent stewards' inquiry.

Racing just in behind the early pace set by Medrano, Storm The Stars moved into the lead on the run down to the final two furlongs. Although in control, it looked as though the Haggas colt was to be a sitting duck for the strong-travelling pair of Tashaar and Bondi Beach.

As the former failed to quicken, Bondi Beach drew alongside but after being bumped, the 11/4 favourite couldn't get past as the Epsom Derby third dug deep to pull out victory under a determined Pat Cosgrave.

In the inquiry, Cosgrave admitted his horse had given Bondi Beach "a bump" but was adamant he was "going away at the end and the best horse won". Joseph O'Brien in contrast, felt the bump "had cost him the race" on Bondi Beach. Both horses are likely to renew rivalry in the Doncaster St Leger on September 12, for which the winner is now 5/1 favourite.

There was an Irish winner later on when Tony Martin's Heartbreak City benefited from an ice-cool ride by Franny Norton to run out the clearcut winner of the two-mile handicap. Weaving his way through rivals Norton saw the gaps appear late on before driving the 7/1 shot to a cosy two-and-a-half-length success.

Martin said: "We ran him over hurdles and discovered a few problems after that so we got them ironed out. It took a while to come but there was always a genuine excuse.

"He's entered (in the Cesarewitch). We did enter him prior to today hoping that something like that would happen. We'll enjoy today and not make any more plans." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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