Sheikhzayedroad (red cap) gets the better of Quest For More in a photo
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
By James Burn 3:51PM 9 SEP 2016
Report: Doncaster, Friday
250th Doncaster Cup (Group 2) 2m2f, 3yo+
THE 250th anniversary of the Doncaster Cup provided a finish that may not have been matched too many times in the race’s history as Sheikhzayedroad denied Quest For More in a thriller.
The 100-30 winner emerged by a nose following a photo-finish that left his connections elated and those of the second deflated.
Ridden by George Baker, Lonsdale Cup winner Quest For More was sent into the lead early and stayed there until it mattered most as Martin Harley conjured a courageous effort from the David Simcock-trained seven-year-old, who rallied in the closing stages to reel in his front-running rival.
Harley, securing his first win in the £100,000 Group 2, said: “He’s run some very good races this year and got a good gallop today. Fair play to the old boy as he keeps producing the goods – him and David.
“When I went to George’s horse he [Quest For More] picked up again and I didn’t want to be hitting the front three out because my fella’s a bit quirky, but he’s tough and he put his head down at the right place at the right time.”
Harley, who finished third on Sheikhzayedroad in the Gold Cup and Goodwood Cup this term, was not worried about getting the verdict from the judge.
“I knew I’d won,” he added. “I thought it was a head or a short-head, I didn’t think it was a nose.”
Simcock, who has campaigned the Dubawi gelding in Dubai and North America, had the look of a man not so confident of the result, but delighted with it.
“He’s been consistent all his life,” he said.
Sheikhzayedroad and Martin Harleyreturn to the winner’s enclosure PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
“He’s tough, an old warrior and we absolutely love him to bits. We don’t over-race him – maybe six times a year – and he’ll have one more race this year be it in Canada or at Ascot then he’ll go to Dubai in the spring. He takes no training and is as slow as a hearse at home, but he is very loveable and very special to the yard.
“It’s wonderful and everybody loves watching these stayers – you could give me ten of these horses all day long over five-furlong horses; they’re fun to watch and fun to train.”
Sheikhzayedroad’s option in Canada is the Grade 1 1m4f Canadian International he was third in last year, but he might meet Quest For More if he heads to Ascot for the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup on October 15.
Roger Charlton, who trains the runner-up and was using his racecard as a whip in the home straight, said: “It’s great to see a race like that and he was incredibly brave. He’s not entered in the Melbourne Cup and if the ground’s suitably quick at Ascot we’ll go there. If not we’ll go to Dubai.”