Great White Shark secured the most significant success of her career to provide trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Jason Watson with back-to-back victories in the Together For Racing International Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket.
Having teamed up to take the race prestigious two-and-a-quarter-mile prize 12 months ago with Stratum, the pair combined to good effect once again as the well-supported 9-2 favourite made light work of testing conditions.
Buried among runners for much of the contest, the grey mare, who finished 10th in last year’s race, steadily worked her way between rivals before being produced by Watson to mount a challenge approaching the final quarter of a mile.
As those around her toiled, Great White Shark galloped on in resolute fashion to defeat top-weight Summer Moon by three lengths and complete a hat-trick of wins in the race for Closutton handler Mullins.
Watson said: “I couldn’t go early on in the race. It’s always tough as everyone is trying to get in a position they want to be in and I was a bit worried I was a bit too far back. There was so many horses in front of me I wasn’t too sure where I was.
“I spoke to the boys back home in Ireland, Willie and Paul Townend, and they just said keep her travelling as she loves being pushed along into the bridle and passing horses. They said keep her where she is happy as she will stay all day, and you know coming from Willie Mullins they will be fit and go through this ground and I had the horse for it.”
Though Great White Shark had plenty on her plate with half a mile of the contest remaining, Watson was confident his mount was always doing enough.
He said: “I was off the bridle going into the four and it was quite a gruel and she hit a flat spot, but in the end I was the one going forward and though it was a long way from home I was confident I was going to get up and she finished off really impressively.
“She didn’t have the nicest of runs last year, but she still managed to finish 10th running on. They were very confident with the weight she had today. She had a big chance on paper, but it’s a 34-runner field and you never know what is going to happen – I was grateful I had the luck.”
Although Watson has ridden for Mullins on numerous occasions in the past, he still feels privileged to get the call up.
He added: “It is always nice to ride in these big races as they are tough to win. I’m lucky to get on one for a big stable and have a good chance on a good horse.
“Willie is a top-class trainer, you don’t need me to tell you that, and when you ride them you know they are not going to be short on the day and that is what every jockey wants.”