Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin team received its first significant piece of good news in some time when Farhh emerged a most convincing winner of the JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury yesterday.
Still dogged by the scandal which saw trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni banned for eight years for administering anabolic steroids to horses in his care, a first British Group One victory of the year would be among the most welcome of more than 200 now collected globally by Godolphin at the top level.
Farhh was clearly demonstrating the loss experienced to the sport by the retired Frankel, who took this race last year and hammered him in both the Sussex Stakes and Judd-monte International.
A first domestic Group One for jockey Silvestre de Sousa, it was achieved in a slightly matter-of-fact way, with Farhh (100-30) drawing four lengths clear of 80-1 outsider Sovereign Debt in spite of a warning from trainer Saeed bin Suroor that he might need his first start of the season.
Creeping into the lead with a furlong of the mile remaining, Farhh put down an early marker for the summer’s prestige events, with Aidan O’Brien’s 5-4 favourite Declaration Of War weakening meekly into fifth and the proven Cityscape finishing tailed-off.
Simon Crisford, Godolphin’s racing manager, said: “He won really well, it did surprise me as he has been a very difficult horse to train and Saeed has had to tip-toe very quietly with him.
“It’s fantastic, particularly after all the problems we have had in the last few weeks.
“Obviously Saeed is nothing to do with that issue but he has put us back into pole position. It’s important, a great boost to the stable.”
Looking towards Royal Ascot, Crisford said: “We were slightly concerned about the trip today but he did it so well that maybe we will go to the Queen Anne.
“He’ll be entered for the Queen Anne and Prince of Wales’s Stakes, we’ll keep options open and see what Sheikh Mohammed wants to do.
“He deserved it, he kept on finishing second to the best horse of all time last year, so to see him win a Group One was fantastic.”
Bin Suroor will assume control of the Al Zarooni string as soon as the British Horseracing Authority reveals the test results of all Godolphin’s Newmarket horses, while Crisford hopes to announce the clear up of Godolphin’s internal investigation over the next few days.