Ascot: Farhh wins renewal of Qipco Champion Stakes

Silvestre De Sousa can't hide his delight after leading Farhh to victory in the Champions Stakes at Ascot. Picture: Getty
Silvestre De Sousa can't hide his delight after leading Farhh to victory in the Champions Stakes at Ascot. Picture: Getty
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Farhh showed tremendous guts to win a thrilling renewal of the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.

The injury-plagued five-year-old, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, won the Lockinge at Newbury back in May, but yet another setback had kept him off the track until now.

Advertising the skills of his handler, Farhh needed to have stamina and courage in equal fashion, but his Brazilian jockey Silvestre de Sousa kept him up to his work to hold off the 2011 winner Cirrus Des Aigles by just a neck. Ruler Of The World, the Epsom Derby winner, was another half a length away in third.

De Sousa said: “He travelled like a dream, and like the winner, through the race. He’s a marvellous horse and I’m delighted.”

Both the first and second had been no match for Frankel last year, but with one champion retired to stud, the space was there for another star to emerge.

Cirrus Des Aigles ran an amazing race for a seven-year-old and Ruler Of The World bounced right back to his best after disappointing in the Arc two weeks ago.

Bin Suroor confirmed Farhh will now be retired to stud. He said: “He had to have a break after winning the Lockinge. He’s been a miler in the past but he did it today really well over ten furlongs, especially in that ground. He’d been on good to soft, but it was heavy today. You have to look after him really well just to keep him sound. It wasn’t really easy to train him, if you put any pressure on you know what will happen. He looked the best-ever today and he ran his greatest race.

“He is a great horse and I’m so happy. He’ll be retired now and he’ll go to stud.”

Those who believed Johnny Murtagh’s career in the saddle was winding down when he took out a licence to train earlier this season were proved wrong once again at Ascot as the evergreen pilot steered his own Royal Diamond to a thrilling victory in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup.

Top jockey at Royal Ascot and winner of the King George on Novellist, Murtagh has mastered the Berkshire track this year, but this victory, in the colours of his main backer Andrew Tinkler, meant more than any other.

Sent off at 20-1 after a lifeless run in the Irish St Leger, Royal Diamond appeared to have plenty to find against the likes of the Gold Cup winner Estimate, owned by the Queen, but she never looked happy on the soft ground.

Harris Tweed appeared set for an all-the-way win after seeing off Eye Of The Storm inside the final furlong, but Murtagh conjured a magical run from Royal Diamond to put his head in front where it mattered to pounce by a nose.

An emotional Murtagh said: “I think that this is the best day of my life. I can’t thank everybody enough for giving me the horses. I’ve got wonderful staff, a great wife and lovely kids – God is good. It’s been an amazing year for me – I really don’t know what to say.

“He has been a brilliant horse from day one and I am just privileged to ride so many great horses. It’s all about my staff and my team – they are wonderful.

“I knew I’d won as soon as we reached the line. The horse is all heart.”

Slade Power held off Jack Dexter in an exciting finish to the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes, while Seal Of Approval turned the Qipco British Champions Fillies And Mares Stakes into a procession, beating Belle De Crecy by four lengths.

The Lewis Walsh-ridden Breton Rock (12-1) later stole the show in the Qipco Future Stars Apprentice Handicap.