Thursday 19 April 2018

Hunt Cup spoils go to Portage as Godolphin bag hat-trick

Portage lifts the Hunt Cup
Portage lifts the Hunt Cup

Godolphin claimed their third winner on the second day of Royal Ascot when Irish raider Portage struck in the Royal Hunt Cup.

Mick Halford's four-year-old was never too far off a generous pace set by Early Morning on the far side of the track.

But once the nine-runner breakaway group converged into one, Portage really got going in the hands of James Doyle.

The 10-1 chance took the lead inside the final furlong and kept on powerfully on the far rail to deny Librisa Breeze by a length and a quarter.

Onrushing duo Mitchum Swagger and Azraff were third and fourth respectively.

Doyle said: "I was feeling pretty left out (without a winner) but I did think anything I had before Friday and Saturday would be a bonus.

"That was a tough performance as we were at the front end all the way. He got in a nice rhythm, he's a horse who stays further and he didn't mind the ground.

"It was a proper, solid performance. You never know about the draw, it's hard to know if it's the draw or speed you need."

Halford, celebrating his first Royal winner, said: "It's hard to put into words, but it's certainly exciting.

"It means the world to us, Sheikh Mohammed has been incredibly good to us, all the way back to Casamento - this is how we can repay his generosity.

"We think he's a decent horse, we've been very patient with him and hopefully he'll repay us now."

He said: "He has grown up a lot and matured a lot. I was delighted with his comeback run at the Curragh and we knew he would get the trip really well.

"He handled soft ground when he won here on King George day. James Doyle was very confident and he gave him a confident ride.

"This race has been on my mind since he ran in the Cambridgeshire last year. We had a wet spring and didn't get him out then he had a slight setback as we were planning on running him at the Curragh on Irish Guineas weekend but that didn't happen.

"We were delighted with his win in the Listed race, but this has been his target for some time.

"I think the horse is ready for a step up (in grade). The horse will go better on better ground and we know he will probably get further as we saw at the Curragh."

Press Association

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