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Range of options open for Felix after fine Dubai Turf effort

Felix could do more globetrotting in search of the good prize-money after picking up £291,000 for finishing third in the Dubai Turf at Meydan on Saturday.

Connections made the bold bid of accepting an invitation for the Group One over nine furlongs rather than go for the all-weather middle-distance championship final at Lingfield on Good Friday.

They were rewarded as Felix took minor honours behind Lord North, in what was a rare outing on turf for the Lope De Vega gelding.

“It was brilliant. We were thrilled with that performance. It was a brave decision from the owner,” said Botti.

“When he finished second in the Winter Derby the next day we got an invitation and he said he could be unlucky in the all-weather final so we should take it and it paid off.

“He ran a fantastic race. He had a wide draw, but Oisin (Murphy) dropped him in and he finished really strongly.

“It opens up more options for the future. Until yesterday, we campaigned the horse on the all-weather. That’s the way it panned out, but after Saturday knowing he handled the turf so well it opens up more options for the future.

“Talking to Mr Sohi, we decided it is probably sensible to bring him back to England and give him a bit of a break, freshen him up and regroup in a month’s time and see where we go next. He deserves a holiday.

“After picking up decent prize-money he deserves to have an easy time.”

He added: “He’s a gelding so those international races are very good prize-money and it makes sense to target them. We’re not ruling out running him here, but being a gelding it makes sense to go for big pots.”

Mishriff and Lord North thrill Gosden on day to remember

Mishriff and Lord North are to be freshened up for major engagements this summer after they headlined a super Saturday for John and Thady Gosden on their first weekend with a joint licence.

The father and son team not only scooped two of the top prizes at Meydan, but took the Lincoln at Doncaster with Haqeeqy and had a double at Kempton through Otyrar and Global Giant.

The two heads of Clarehaven Stables in Newmarket had the perfect lift-off on Friday when Regent, their first official runner together, won at Lingfield.

Gosden reflected on a remarkable Saturday.

Mishriff proved his class in the Dubai Sheema Classic
Mishriff proved his class in the Dubai Sheema Classic (Dubai Racing Club/Mathea Kelley)

“It was an extraordinary day. A tremendous amount of work and planning had gone into it with all our team here at Clarehaven Stables and sometimes it comes off,” he told Racing TV’s Luck On Sunday programme.

He was delighted with the two high-profile winners in Meydan, where Lord North took the Dubai Turf and Mishriff backed up his Saudi Cup triumph in the Dubai Sheema Classic.

“Lord North showed his class. In the Prince of Wales’s Stakes last year he scooted away from them. He’s a grand horse with a wonderful attitude,” said Gosden.

“I think he’ll go back for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes again (at Royal Ascot). We’ll freshen him up now for the summer.”

Mishriff could be set for a busy summer campaign, after a well-deserved break.

Lord North was brilliant in the Dubai Turf
Lord North was brilliant in the Dubai Turf (Mathea Kelley/Dubai Racing Club)

“I will discuss it with Prince Faisal, but it was always the plan to see if he could be an Arc horse and I think he proved he gets the mile and a half,” said Gosden.

“They went quick to the bend, then they slowed it up and he finished well, so I think he’ll freshen for the summer.

“My feeling would be races like the Eclipse, the Juddmonte International, the Arc and the King George. Those are the races to be looking at and seeing where we are at the time.

“That’s a long way off. He deserves a pretty good holiday.”

However, Gosden is not keen on going for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt in Del Mar as he feels the course would not suit Mishriff.

“Having had a lot of success at Del Mar over the years I do know that straight very well and I always feel they should pick up the finishing wire and move it another 100 yards down,” he said.

“It’s a very short straight and a different style of racing. You’ve got to have real tactical speed and you ping off the bend. This is a horse who enjoys the length of the straight. I don’t think it’s going to suit him.”

Young apprentice Benoit De La Sayette shone aboard Haqeeqy in the Lincoln
Young apprentice Benoit De La Sayette shone aboard Haqeeqy in the Lincoln (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Closer to home, a new star was born when 7lb-claiming apprentice Benoit De La Sayette, 18, partnered Haqeeqy to an emotional victory in the Unibet Lincoln at Doncaster in the colours of Hissa Hamdan Al Maktoum, daughter of Shekih Hamdan who died earlier in the week.

“Frankie Dettori is a friend of the De La Sayette family and it was he who asked if their son could join the Clarehaven team. It evolved through Frankie and his father being good friends,” said Gosden.

“Frankie asked if he could come to us and he’s a pleasure to work with. He’s work riding and he’s been with us some time riding during school holidays. He’s exceptionally talented.

“I don’t like to see apprentices rushed. We’ll try to manage it very carefully and do what’s right and prudent for a young jockey who’s hopefully got a long career ahead of him, but he certainly won’t be riding left, right and centre every day and burning himself out by August.

“His parents have been so much part of this They have taken him to England, France, pony racing. They taught him everything. He’s just a natural.”

Thady Gosden was on duty for the team in Dubai and is jetting to Florida with a view to adding to the stable.

Thady Gosden is a key part of the training operation with his father
Thady Gosden is a key part of the training operation with his father (Julian Finney/PA)

“He’s going to Florida for the two-year-olds in training sales,” said Gosden senior.

“He’s going to look at some horses at the sales here there. He says he’s got a client. Who knows, he’ll be taking over soon.

“You couldn’t have choreographed it. It was meant to be January 1, but with the modules that got put behind by Covid so it’s happened by the beginning of the turf season which is great.

“We didn’t quite plan this. It came to fruition, but if we had won of those races we’d have been overjoyed. They are very hard to win.”

Mystic Guide makes no mistake in Dubai World Cup

American challenger Mystic Guide provided Godolphin with victory in the landmark 25th edition of the Dubai World Cup.

Mystic Guide recorded a third successive victory in the Meydan showpiece in the owners’ blue silks, and their ninth in all following Thunder Snow’s back-to-back triumphs in 2018 and 2019.

Mike Stidham’s four-year-old, ridden by Luis Saez and sent off the 6-4 favourite, arrived from off the pace entering the straight and quickly took charge to prevail by three and three-quarter lengths from Japan’s Chuwa Wizard, becoming a 12th American-trained winner.

Godolphin’s Magny Cours, trained in France by Andre Fabre, stayed on to be third under William Buick, another length and a quarter back.

The winner was Stidham’s first runner outside America – in one of the world’s most prestigious and valuable races.

He said: “I’m very proud, very proud of the horse – and so happy to be here, for Godolphin and Sheikh Mohammed, on the 25th anniversary. To have a performance like that was the icing on the cake.

“I really felt like it was finally my turn to step up to the big time, and I really wanted it to happen – and it has.

“It’s 40 years of emotions right now!”

The race was delayed by several minutes as first Great Scot unseated Frankie Dettori exiting the paddock and ran loose – and then as the field was loading, Military Law broke through the front of the stalls.

Both horses had to be withdrawn, and Stidham admitted to concerns about how Mystic Guide would deal with the commotion around him.

“He was getting pretty angsty on the walk over – and then in the different holding areas, he was getting a little bit tough, giving us a hard time,” he said.

“I was concerned that when he got into the parade ring, it was going to even get a little worse – and it did.

“Then multiple loose horses, loading and unloading, he was starting to kick out. There were comments about him maybe running his race before the race – and I was concerned, I really was.

“But in the end, his class and ability came through.”

Mystic Guide proved he has the temperament as well as the talent, and Stidham added: “It’s a totally different atmosphere here (to America), and horses have to be able to handle it – it’s not easy for an American horse to come over and do it.

“(But) I felt really good when he got the position he got, lying third comfortably down the back. I didn’t know for sure – but then down the lane, it was amazing.”

Stidham can begin pondering future challenges, including the Breeders’ Cup and even returning next year to try to retain his Dubai title.

At the mention of those prospects, he said: “Absolutely – the sky’s the limit now for him, I think.”

Saez was understandably equally impressed.

Asked for the jockey’s reaction on dismounting, he added: “He just said ‘what a horse!’ He’s just a tremendous horse, so much talent.”

Like the trainer, Saaez admitted the pre-race mishaps of others was briefly worrying – but soon realised he need not have been too concerned.

“It was a little difficult in the gate, a lot going on,” he said.

“But he handled it pretty well … professional horse.

“That was the plan, try to break and get a good position, and be right there. Everything went so well.

“I could feel from half-a-mile out how much power he had. It was magnificent. I’m so grateful to be here and be a part of this.”

Hopes were high before the race, and Mystic Guide disappointed no one.

“We were confident today,” said Saaez, who is also the partner of Godolphin’s Kentucky Derby favourite, Essential Quality.

“I knew we had a horse, and he was going to show off. He’s a super horse.

“This is one of the biggest events in the world, so for me to be here it’s an honour. I’ve always dreamt of being here one day.

“There was a little bit of pressure, because the horse was favourite, but I was confident.

“What a wonderful trainer – he did the best with this horse, and had him ready for this race.”

Magical Mishriff digs deep in Sheema Classic

Mishriff delivered another brilliant performance to win the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan.

John Gosden’s colt, already a winner of the world’s richest race in the Saudi Cup at Riyadh last month, displayed versatility as well as the highest class by switching back to turf here and winning on his first attempt at a mile and a half.

Mishriff had to do it the hard way too, challenging down the outside after being last of the nine-strong field exiting the back straight, and then proving his stamina as well as his acceleration to hold off two Japanese challengers Chrono Genesis and Loves Only You in a driving finish.

For Gosden, and son Thady who now shares their British trainer’s licence, it was a second big win in under an hour on the Dubai World Cup card – following Lord North’s success in the Turf.

Mishriff, who won at 4-1, had a neck to spare from Chrono Genesis at the line, with Loves Only You and Oisin Murphy another neck back in third.

Gosden junior was quick to pay tribute to winning rider David Egan.

He said: “They were two absolutely flawless rides (here and Saudi) from David – brilliant.

“It sounds sycophantic when you’re sitting next to him. But he obviously made a decision, when he didn’t break as well from that draw, to drop him in. You have to have a pretty cool head to be able to do that in that race.

“Over a mile and a half for the first time, if you try to send him to the lead to get him up there, there’s a pretty significant risk you’re going to end up setting him alight – and the race would be over before it really started.

“So David obviously made the correct decision to drop him in and switch him off and strike when he did.

“He’s a very versatile horse, and a brilliant and tough horse as well – and he definitely wasn’t for beating today.

“We’ll take him home and see how he is, and he’ll tell us what he’d like to do in the very near future.”

Put to him that the yard is in great form since the training link with this father was made official, Gosden smiled: “It’s a wonderful start.

“I think I’ll probably have to retire now!”

Egan is enjoying every moment with the Prince Faisal-owned Mishriff.

He said: “I was able to get a pitch at the back of the pack. I didn’t bounce him out of the gates, like I did in Saudi. I did more of the complete opposite – I was very relaxed going out.

“He jumped slowly, which was ideal, and I was able to slot across and have someone on my inside and get a smooth run up the middle of the track.

“He showed a good turn of foot to cruise up there from that position. I thought he was really tough in the last 100 yards – another horse could have easily thrown in the towel. He showed a lot of grit and just about got the mile and a half.”

He added: “I’m just thankful to everyone around me for putting me in the position to be able to ride such a champion in Mishriff.

“He’s so versatile – he can run over any trip on any surface. Any trip for Mishriff, he’s taken it all in his stride. So we’ll take on any trip, and any horse.

“Coming off the Saudi Cup win, maybe some would say the pressure was more immense (for me) – because he had more of a chance and he’s stepping up against top-class horses here.

“But I felt pretty cool – which I probably needed to be, to get him to relax and switch off in the first half of the race.”

Lord North rules for Dettori in Dubai Turf

John Gosden’s Lord North produced an irresistible surge down the outside to deliver a famous victory for Frankie Dettori in the Dubai Turf.

Lord North, an impressive winner of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in the summer, struck from well off the pace but was dominant in the final furlong of the Meydan straight.

Dettori, riding ostensibly for the new joint licence holders of Gosden and his son Thady but with the former’s name exclusively on the racecard as trainer in Dubai, was content to sit well behind the lead early on.

Once he asked Lord North to pick up the pacesetters, it was game over – and the 6-4 favourite was three lengths clear at the line, from Japan’s Vin De Garde, with Felix staying on into third for Oisin Murphy and Newmarket trainer Marco Botti.

Dettori said: “It was a nice pace. I followed William’s horse (William Buick, on Al Suhail). I had plenty of horse, and I know he stays really well.

“So I kicked him early, and he flew. I didn’t do much else after that – he did the rest.

“He was a handful in the early days, so he was gelded. He’s much more focused now, and he’s done nothing wrong.

“He’s a horse to go to war with in all the big races this year. Let’s try the Prince of Wales’s again … but I’m sure Mr Gosden will have a plan, and we’ll have lots of fun.”

The Italian added of his successful spell back in Dubai during the winter: “It’s not been so bad, has it?

“I love it – coming back to where I started years ago. Twenty-five years of the World Cup, and I think I’ve been at most of them – they have been tremendous memories.

“Long may it continue.”

Thady Gosden said: “He ran very, very well over a mile and a half (in the Breeders’ Cup Turf). (But) the drop down in trip definitely helped him.

“He was ridden similarly to Mishriff, sitting out the back and sent round the bend – and he picked up very well in the straight.

“He showed plenty of speed. As he’s got older, he’s got stronger, and he was fresh and well over here. He really loves his racing – you can see that enthusiasm when he attacks the ground.

“We’ll get him home and see how he takes the race. There’s a little bit of time to Royal Ascot still – so depending on what he tells us, he could have a run before or go straight to something like the Prince of Wales’s.

Subjectivist streaks to Dubai gold

Mark Johnston’s Subjectivist put up an impressive performance to win the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan.

The four-year-old, winner of the Group One Prix Royal-Oak on heavy ground when last seen at ParisLongchamp in October, demonstrated his adaptability on this much quicker surface, and put down a marker for all this summer’s top staying races.

Joe Fanning had the 5-1 shot prominent throughout as For The Top initially led the Group Two field.

Subjectivist took over to go clear in the straight and had a yawning five and three-quarter lengths to spare at the line – as outsiders Walderbe and Away He Goes stayed on best of the well-beaten rest to be second and third respectively.

Johnston confirmed he found Subjectivist’s dominant performance a joy to watch throughout.

“Always, from past the winning post first time I thought ‘this is perfect, I’m very happy, he’s going really well,” said the Middleham trainer.

“When he hit the front, I was thinking ‘well, I’m glad I’m not the trainer of one of the other horses!

“I just thought frankly, as proved to be the case … anybody who thinks they can go and catch this horse from back there and make up that sort of ground … I just thought it was absolutely perfect.

“It wasn’t as if he’d been running too free, or he’d been driven to the front. He eased to the front with five lengths to spare over the field, and it just couldn’t have been better.”

The trainer of former Ascot Gold Cup winners Double Trigger and Royal Rebel, and last year’s runner-up Nayef Road, believes Subjectivist could be lynchpin of a successful new era for his yard in the staying division.

Acknowledging huge respect for John Gosden’s three-time Ascot winner and title-holder Stradivarius, Johnston is nonetheless up for the challenge.

“You can never underestimate Stradivarius, because he’s beaten some fantastic horses – including Dee Ex Bee – and we thought in Dee Ex Bee, we had the absolute perfect Cup horse,” he said.

“Stradivarius made short work of him. But it’s not all about one horse, and we go into 2021 with this horse and Nayef Road – the nearest thing to Stradivarius last year – so it’s just very, very exciting.

“We love the Cup division. With Double Trigger and then Royal Rebel, we were always right up there with some of the best horses in the staying division.

“We’ve had a few relatively quiet years. But I just feel we are going into it (this year) with the best team in the world.

Goodwood Festival – Day One
Stradivarius may lie in wait for Subjectivist this summer (Dan Abraham/PA)

Fanning – making his first trip to Meydan – always felt in control on Subjectivist.

“He is a little bit keen – (but) he switched off nicely,” said the winning jockey.

“It was a nice even pace, and down the back I was going so well I just let him roll on a little bit because I knew he’d stay very well on this ground.

“I was very confident turning into the straight I had plenty left.

“I didn’t want the race to slow up, and I had so much horse before the straight. So I got a breather into him, then kicked, and was pretty comfortable.

“I’ve never been to Dubai before. I thought he had a big, strong chance – so I was glad to come over.”

Fanning had no doubts about Subjectivist on this quicker surface, either.

“Everyone thinks he wants soft, heavy ground – but I think he’s the type who’ll go on anything,” he said.

“So I was never worried about the ground here – I think he’s a very versatile horse.”

Johnston’s overdue Meydan victory came in a necessarily hushed atmosphere as coronavirus restrictions continue to limit attendances.

He added: “It doesn’t matter where we are in the world – this is not normal.

“Dubai World Cup night would normally be one of the biggest meetings in terms of attendances that we go to in the year.

“So this is very, very different – so sad for Dubai.”

In the year of the meeting’s 25th anniversary, it was also run following the death this week of Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum – deputy ruler of Dubai and owner and breeder of many of world racing’s greats over the past 30 years.

“After Sheikh Hamdan’s death, we all wondered if it could go ahead – and we were told it would, because that’s what Sheikh Hamdan would have wanted,” said Johnston.

“All the odds were stacked against there even being a race meeting tonight – and it’s the 25th anniversary. So what better time to win?”

Bethell plots Al Quoz challenge for Moss Gill

First-season trainer Ed Bethell has decided to take the plunge and run Moss Gill in this month’s Group One Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan.

Bethell is hoping Danny Tudhope will take the ride on his stable star in the six-furlong heat on Dubai World Cup night, March 27.

Tudhope has ridden Moss Gill three times in the past, including when third to Battaash in York’s Nunthorpe Stakes as well as to a Listed success at the same course.

Moss Gill made a promising reappearance when second to Lord Riddiford in an all-weather fast-track qualifier over five furlongs at Lingfield last month on his first start since October.

Bethell, who took over the licence of the family’s Thorngill Stables at Coverham, near Middleham, from his father James in the new year, is looking forward to trying Moss Gill back up at six furlongs.

“He’s going to go to Dubai, all being well, a week on Friday, for the Al Quoz Sprint,” said Bethell.

“All being well Danny Tudhope will ride him. He won a Listed race on him and was third in the Nunthorpe.

“He seems in good form and good heart. Although it will be a tough ask, it’s worth a million dollars, so why not roll the dice? It doesn’t happen every day running for a million.

“I’m really looking forward to getting him back to six furlongs. He’s run twice over six furlongs, and been second twice.”

Bethell believes the extra furlong will have a positive effect.

“I think in the higher level of races it will just allow him to travel better, and he might be able to carry the jockey into the race a bit stronger – and then you have that final burst of speed he has,” he said.

“At Lingfield he was just half a stride behind the bridle all the way round. I know it’s a sharp five. It was a bit similar to that in the Nunthorpe. In that high level of race it might just pay for him to go a furlong further, hold on to him a bit longer – and then go.

“Having spoken to the guys who have ridden him, they all agree.

“Hopefully, he can run a big race.”

Lord Glitters sparkles in Jebel Hatta

David O’Meara hailed Lord Glitters “the horse of a lifetime” after he finished with a flourish to claim victory in the Jebel Hatta at Meydan.

Almost two years on from his surprise success in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, O’Meara’s stable stalwart was a 9-4 chance to double his top-level tally in the first of two Group One prizes up for grabs on ‘Super Saturday’ in Dubai.

Winner of the Group Two Singspiel Stakes over the course and distance in January, before finishing third in the Al Rashidiya last month, Lord Glitters was given a patient ride by Danny Tudhope – and looked booked for minor honours at best turning for home.

However, just when it seemed Eqtiraan might spring a 40-1 shock after seeing off the challenge of odds-on favourite Al Suhail, Lord Glitters could be spotted powering home and got up in the closing strides to win the day.

“I’m absolutely over the moon,” said North Yorkshire-based O’Meara.

“To win a Group One as an eight-year-old – he’s been an unbelievable horse for us. He’s the horse a lifetime, really.

“They haven’t gone very quick and he’s been wide throughout. He took a while to get going, but won well in the end.”

Lord Glitters carries the colours of the late Geoff Turnbull and his wife Sandra.

Horse RacDavid O'Meara was thrilled with the performance of Lord Glittersing – Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival – Day Four – York Racecourse
David O’Meara was thrilled with the performance of Lord Glitters (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

O’Meara added: “It’s great for the Turnbull family. Geoff’s son runs the job now and I’m sure Geoff will be looking down very pleased.

“The horse is having a great year with two wins and a third. Matt Ennis is out there with him and is doing a great job.”

Lord Glitters finished a close third behind Japanese mare Almond Eye in the Dubai Turf in 2019.

Asked if he would have a second tilt at the World Cup night prize later this month, O’Meara said: “Why not? It’s huge money, so absolutely.

“He was third in the race two years ago. Fillies finished first, second and fourth and he was giving them all 5lb and was only beaten a length and three-quarters.”

Hills sets out Meydan Sprint plan for Equilateral

Equilateral will remain in Dubai for next month’s Meydan Sprint following his victory there last week.

The Charlie Hills-trained six-year-old took the Dubai Dash for the second year running and will now try to atone for a narrow defeat in the Meydan Sprint last February.

Hills reports the Equiano gelding to have come out of his recent exertions in good form.

“I was really delighted with him. Frankie (Dettori) gave him a great ride and it looked like he was always going to win the race,” said the Lambourn trainer.

“It’s nice to have won the race twice now and he was 5lb worse off than last year.

“He seems to have come out of the race in great order and we’ll train him for the Group Two.”

Equilateral’s best effort in defeat last year came when he was second to stablemate Battaash in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Hills revealed the five-furlong Group One is likely to be the brilliant seven-year-old’s starting point in 2021.

“Battaash is still on his winter break,” he said.

Battaash is likely to start his season at Royal Ascot
Battaash is likely to start his season at Royal Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He doesn’t normally come in until the beginning of March. They all seem very happy with him. He’s enjoying his hols at the moment.

“Last year he would probably have gone to Haydock (for the Temple Stakes) had that race been on. He’s won first time out every year, so I think we’ll just save him for Royal Ascot.”

Hills’ highly-promising and lightly-raced four-year-old Tilsit is being prepared for a possible trip to Saudi Arabia next month.

Tilsit is set for a trip to Saudi Arabia
Tilsit is set for a trip to Saudi Arabia (Dan Abraham/PA)

The First Defence colt, winner of the Thoroughbred Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, holds entries in the Saudi Cup and the Middle Distance Turf Cup in Riyadh on February 20.

“He’s in those two races and we’re looking at it,” he said.

“Hopefully we’ll run him. We’ll see how he is in a couple of weeks.”

Winter travels on Oxted’s agenda

Oxted may be going on his travels to either Hong Kong or Dubai for his next run after signing off his domestic season with an eye-catching run in defeat at Ascot.

Trainer Roger Teal has revealed his July Cup winner is a possible for the Group One Hong Kong Sprint in December – although he could give his stable star more time and wait for Dubai in March, when the Al Quoz Sprint would be the main objective.

“We’ve been invited possibly to Hong Kong, but I think we’re going to see what happens with him and maybe go to Dubai next year,” said Teal.

“We might go out there possibly for Super Saturday and World Cup night for the Al Quoz.

“It’s not definite, but to be fair to the horse we might concentrate on that. We’ll be guided by him over the next week or so.

“We’ve got next year to look forward. I don’t want to put too many miles on the clock. We’ve got an exciting year to look forward to next year.”

Teal was pleased with Oxted’s run on Saturday, losing by only a length when fifth to Glen Shiel in the Qipco British Champions Sprint on his first start since Newmarket in the summer.

However, he felt the four-year-old would have gone closer had the pace been stronger and the ground less testing.

The Lambourn trainer said: “He’s fine. He’s come out of the race well – no ill effects, so that’s good.

Trainer Roger Teal
Trainer Roger Teal (Hugh Routledge/PA)

“He was probably just a bit too keen early, and we paid the price late on. There was no pace early. Obviously a stronger pace would have helped us.

“On better ground he’d probably have kept on going. He handled the ground, but I think his stamina ran out over the stiff six.

“That ground blunted his speed a bit. The petrol gauge was going empty, because he was too keen early.

“He didn’t show himself up. He ran with credit, (and) I’m just pleased we’ve got a genuine Group One horse. He ran a stormer.”