It’s Night’s day at Newbury as Thunder strikes

James Doyle riding Night Of Thunder, right, wins at Newbury. Picture: Getty
James Doyle riding Night Of Thunder, right, wins at Newbury. Picture: Getty
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Night Of Thunder landed his first success since last year’s Qipco 2000 Guineas with a hard-fought triumph in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

The Richard Hannon-trained four-year-old held the late thrust of his stablemate Toormore to lift the Group One over the straight mile in the hands of James Doyle for the colt’s new owners, Godolphin.

The 11-4 joint-favourite got the verdict by a neck from Toormore and Richard Hughes, with Arod just three-quarters of a length away in third.

Doyle said: “There should be more to come as that was just the start of his campaign.

“He went to win his race and settled it nicely. I’m delighted with him – he has a great attitude.

“He went to the start like an old hunter and lobbed out of the stalls. It’s great when they do that.

“It’s great to put on these silks and hopefully there will be plenty more to come.”

Hannon said: “Toormore has run a super race and this horse (Night Of Thunder) looked to me like he was going to win very well and got tired, as he’s had a long time off the track. I couldn’t be more pleased.

“I think both of them will improve. Definitely, Toormore will. He was a bit heavy and doesn’t do too much at home.

“Night Of Thunder shows us a bit more at home and he too will improve. He’s nothing to prove now. He’s won the Guineas and the Lockinge. He’s obviously a very good horse and will make a very good stallion. They will probably both go to Ascot for the Queen Anne.

“As the year goes on the races open up in Europe. There’s the Jacques le Marois, the Moulin. There are lots of lovely races and they don’t have to go for the same ones.”

Hannon went on: “These horses have speed and they get a trip. Toormore might get a mile and a quarter. We tried a mile and a quarter with Night Of Thunder. Nothing is impossible at this stage and they will probably now go to Ascot and go well in the Queen Anne.

“They don’t have to go for the same ones, and it would be better for me personally if they didn’t. But I’m not the owner and the owners are entitled to go where they want to go.

“To get Godolphin and Sheikh Mohammed involved is the ultimate compliment and this horse has gone and done the business and we’re delighted.”

Asked about becoming a specialist with horses at around a mile, Hannon added: “It is nothing to do with the way we train. These are the horses we get sent. I’d love to train a Derby horse but we don’t seem to get those horses.”

Ryan Moore had every chance on the heavily-backed mare Integral, but had to settle for fourth place in his attempt to ride the first five winners on the card.

Birchwood showed a fine turn of foot under Moore to land the Olympic Glory Conditions Stakes at Newbury in fine style – kick-starting a fabulous 1,962-1 five-timer at the Berkshire track for the rider.

With a big crowd in attendance for Al Shabaq Lockinge day, ever-popular Moore returned to a rousing cheer after the Richard Fahey-trained son of Dark Angel maintained his unbeaten record.

Up in trip from his winning five-furlong debut at Doncaster two weeks ago, Moore sat quietly in midfield before making his move approaching the two-furlong marker, tracking the early pace set by Sixth Sense, one of a trio of Mark Johnston runners.

Uneasy favourite Harvard Man, who was on his toes in the parade ring, faded after showing early speed.

But Birchwood showed instant acceleration to collar Beaverbrook and gain the day by a length and a half. There was a further neck back to Eltezam. Fahey was not surprised by the manner of victory of the 11-1 shot, but he is unlikely to head to Royal Ascot.

He explained: “Brilliant. I’m delighted. We’ve always liked him. He does that to a few of our better two-year-olds at home.

“I was worried when I saw the opposition because it looked a warm race, but Ryan liked him. He thought he’d want seven furlongs, but I don’t think he’ll be going to Royal Ascot. I don’t think he’s a Coventry horse. We may go to Newmarket.”