Churchill (striped cap) led home stablemate Lancaster Bomber
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Stuart Riley 3:33PM 8 OCT 2016
Report: Newmarket, Saturday
Dubai Dewhurst Stakes (Group 1) 7f, 2yo entire colts and fillies
FOR most horses, getting blocked in during the hottest part of a Group 1 proves fatal for their chances.
Not so Churchill, whose superior ability allowed him to transform a bona fide hard-luck story into nothing more than a momentary scare en route to the biggest win of a wonderfully exciting career.
In doing so he strengthened his position at the head of the betting for next year’s Classics. Aidan O’Brien’s champion two-year-old colt elect is no bigger than 2-1 for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, with 8-1 the best available for the Investec Derby.
We have been here before.
Just one of O’Brien’s four previous Dewhurst winners completed the double back at the Rowley Mile in May, and that was his first – Rock Of Gibraltar.
Indeed, the Ballydoyle maestro’s last five runners in the Dewhurst have all failed to win again after their juvenile campaigns, with Air Force Blue, like Churchill a National Stakes and Dewhurst winner and also, like Churchill, a winter Guineas hotpot, providing a very recent warning shot.
And yet, Churchill feels very different. The son of Galileo keeps improving and should relish further. But it was the manner of victory that marked him out as special.
The race looked to be developing nicely for the 8-11 favourite until Moore found the gap he had been angling for between South Seas and Thunder Snow disappearing in front of him right as he tried to launch his challenge with two furlongs to run.
A lesser colt would have had his momentum checked. A slower one may have struggled to pick up. But Churchill barely broke stride as Moore once again displayed the cool head and supreme judgement that has resulted in his being widely regarded as the world’s best jockey. He switched his mount, asked for his effort, and then simply held on as Churchill burst clear – and the winner was not stopping at the line.
Another one-two for O’Brien
It looked a vintage Dewhurst beforehand, filled with improving and unexposed types representing major operations. But with stablemate and pacemaker Lancaster Bomber, the 66-1 outsider officially rated 18lb inferior to the winner going into this, battling back inside the final furlong to claim second there has to be serious question marks about what Churchill beat.
It was yet another one-two for the O’Brien yard, mirroring Ballydoyle’s dominance of Friday’s Fillies’ Mile a week after a one-two-three, led home by Found, in the Arc. “We were very happy with that and I feel Churchill learned a lot today,” said O’Brien, who was unsaddling his 20th Group/Grade 1 Flat winner worldwide this year.
Churchill: is no bigger than 2-1 for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas
PICTURE: Getty Images
“He’s a very relaxed horse and doesn’t do a lot in front. He has a super mind on him and has plenty of pace, so we’ll look forward to next year with him. We’ll have a chat to lads but he’ll be a nice horse to bring back here next May.”
Part-owner Michael Tabor, in whose blue and orange silks the first two home raced, added: “That was very satisfying. He looked to be in a pocket at one time but I knew Ryan had plenty of horse under him. The stands’ rail is obviously the place to be today, which helped Lancaster Bomber run such a great race to finish second.”
Commonwealth Cup target for Blue Point
Godolphin’s Gimcrack winner Blue Point, beaten by The Last Lion when sent off favourite for the Middle Park here two weeks ago, challenged at the furlong marker but faded into third.
His big-race partner William Buick said: “Blue Point has run another good race and we served it up to the winner at one point but he just didn’t get home. At least we found something out today, and he’ll be a nice horse over six furlongs next year.”