Canford Cliffs had been mauled by Frankel two years earlier before being retired prematurely due to injury and Toronado was odds-against as he clashed with Dawn Approach for the third time after a heavy defeat in the 2000 Guineas and a far narrower one in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
This time, though, after what has to count as one of Hughes’s most brilliant rides, there was half a length between them and there must surely be potential for a fourth round as the match justified the hype.
Dawn Approach (10-11 favourite), representing Jim Bolger and Godolphin, was a far more relaxed individual than the one who wrestled away his own chances in the Derby as he sat in behind his pacemaker Leitir Mor and was launched for a challenge with two furlongs remaining.
Hughes, who had felt aggrieved at Ascot when he needed to go around the houses and lost the battle with Dawn Approach by a short head, kept his nerve as Toronado (11-4) ambled into contention and was readied to pounce.
The powerful chestnut Dawn Approach has always been reluctant to give an inch once in front but Toronado was soon on his heels and only needed a couple of reminders from his jockey to kick past his old rival close to the line.
“Revenge is sweet, I suppose, but they are two good horses,” said Hannon. “Richard Hughes said the other morning in work that he was the best he has ever ridden. You know, with Canford Cliffs and everything, we have had some good horses, but he is very good. It was looking difficult two furlongs out, but our horse has a hell of a turn of foot.”
Hughes said: “That was very sweet. Just when I kicked him in the belly, it wasn’t as instant on that ground as it would have been on fast ground.
“My plan was ‘wide, fast and late’ and luckily it worked. I didn’t want to get in a battle with Dawn Approach. It was a great race. When I didn’t go by Dawn Approach quickly I thought ‘oh no, here we go again’ but he was very brave. He’s brilliant.”
Bolger offered no excuses, and was reluctant to give much away. “He may not have run up to his very best, I don’t know, but it was a good run and he was just beaten by a better horse on the day,” he said.
Fresh from landing the biggest victory of his career with King George hero Novellist at Ascot on Saturday, German trainer Andreas Wohler returns to Britain with Altano in today’s Artemis Goodwood Cup. Wohler hopes for a strongly run race on the Sussex Downs, which will hopefully allow the seven-year-old’s abundant stamina to come into play. “He is in good form, it looks an open race and I hope he has a good chance,” said Wohler.
Mount Athos is the likely favourite and while Luca Cumani has made no secret of the fact his whole season is being built around the Melbourne Cup, it would be a bonus if they can pick up another nice prize along the way.
At the Galway Festival yesterday, Carlingford Lough, who only made it into the field for the Galway Plate at the 11th hour as first reserve, landed a gamble in the festival showpiece. Partnered by Tony McCoy, the 7-2 favourite emerged from the pack to stake his claim with only around 100 yards to go. Fellow McManus runner Quantitativeeasing was in front with the post in sight, but a late lunge from McCoy saw the favourite grab glory by a length and a half.