Mohaather overcomes all with tremendous Qatar Sussex Stakes success
Mohaather (Marcus Tregoning/Jim Crowley, 3/1) put up an amazing performance to land the highlight of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, the mile G1 Qatar Sussex Stakes.
Two furlongs from home, the winner still had five of the seven runners in front of him with jockey Jim Crowley facing a wall of horses. Crowley did not panic though and pulled his mount wide approaching the final furlong. The response was electric from Mohaather, who overhauled leader Circus Maximus (Aidan O’Brien IRE/Ryan Moore, 6/1) entering the final half-furlong before going on to win by a cosy three-quarters of a length. It was a first Qatar Sussex Stakes for trainer Marcus Tregoning and owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, while jockey Jim Crowley was winning the prestigious prize for the second time following Here Comes When (2017).
Marcus Tregoning said: “I have had to wait a long time for this, but quite honestly we didn’t have the horses. When I left Lambourn I had to start again with not very many – it was like starting from the beginning. Luckily, Sheikh Hamdan supported me very well.
“It’s a big day for the team and for Sheikh Hamdan. He is a very good owner to train for. He is a lot of fun and a lot of people don’t see that. He takes adversity really well; when things don’t go right, move on. To have someone with so much confidence behind you does make you a better trainer.
“It was a tactical race today and we thought it would be. He struggled to get out, he is not the biggest horse and he struggled to find a gap, but Jim [Crowley, jockey] kept his calm and with the knowledge that he has that massive kick.
“It was a little bit of a nightmare to watch, but I knew if Mohaather got out, he would have the speed; he has got a very good turn of foot, as you can see. I know it’s a well-used expression, but he does find heaps under pressure, and I couldn’t have been happier with the way he came into the race – the team have done a great job. Obviously, I am lucky to train horses for Sheikh Hamdan, because he has been an avid supporter, so we are all thrilled.
“Angus Gold sourced the horse for Sheikh Hamdan at Tattersalls Book Two, and sent me to look at him. He was a tiny little thing, but he came from a very stout family, and Angus was quite insistent we got into it if we possibly could, if I could stand the look of the yearling. He has done nothing but thrive, and I should have known better because I trained a filly called Dominica, who wasn’t even 15hh, to win the King’s Stand Stakes [then a G2 race], so it isn’t always about big horses. He is a lovely looking horse and I thought in the paddock he had a lot of quality – I know I train him, but he had more quality than the others. He is a beautiful horse and we are so lucky to have him.
“He got a beautiful ride from Dane O’Neill at Ascot last time [when winning G2 Summer Mile] – it was a solid G2 and he could have won it by six lengths. He could have won here much easier if he had the chance to, but that’s tactics. Luckily, it came off today. I would have been pretty sore if he hadn’t been able to win, because I thought he was in really good order. Obviously, it was a tactical race but luckily he came out on top.
“I thought he would win. All the indications were that we had him right, and he has done nothing but please me. He’s quite an exuberant work horse; my 15-year-old daughter rides him – she is so light and a very good rider, David Croft rides him most of the time, George Tregoning has ridden him plenty of times, Hallie Meroski rides him – she is very good. It’s just a matter of keeping the right people on him – hence I put my 15-year-old daughter on him! I was speaking to Gary Moore about recruiting staff, and he said, well, the family all get involved. It is so much easier if you do that because we all come home and tell the stories. It is a big team thing, but it is lovely having the family involved. Three of them ride out for me every morning, and it makes it fun.
“I left Lambourn and came to Whitsbury on the advice of Chris Harper – he said come and join us, so I did – and started with very few horses again. Having always been lucky enough to train more than 100 horses, I started again with 30 or so and no staff, apart from my head lad and his wife, but David Croft, who has been with every trainer at Whitsbury, luckily came to me.
“Showcasing is a very good stallion and is doing really well. This is important for the stallion, I know that, because now he has a top-class miler, and a top-class stallion needs to get a good miler, and this is it. They will drop my rent and put his price up, so we’ll be fine!
“It’s very special that Gaie Johnson Houghton bred Mohaather – they are a lovely family and Eve’s done amazing well, she’s like her grandmother Helen and firing in the winners left, right and centre. She is a great trainer and we are good friends. I have known the family for a long time and it’s really great that she’s bred another top-class horse.
“I took over from Dick Hern and was with him for 14 years, and I always say there was never a day wasted; he was the most brilliant trainer and should have been a schoolteacher, because then we would have passed our exams. He couldn’t stand coming to this big meeting and not having a proper winner here; luckily most times he did, but if he didn’t, it would be a very quiet journey home. That is where it comes from, and I always think if you have a new owner or a new person coming racing for the first time, bring them here. Bring them to Goodwood and you will sell racing, because it’s the most magnificent view here across the Downs. The whole estate is run amazingly well, and I am always proud to come here and do well.
“The Breeders’ Cup Mile is a possibility. We know one thing – tactical speed round those tighter tracks is what you have to have. This horse has so much pace; I love watching him. He will work on his own if you wanted him to – he’s just a pleasure to be around – but he would have the speed for it, I am sure. There’s also Champions Weekend at Ascot. He is in the Prix Jacques Le Marois, but that might come a bit quick for him, we’ll have to see. But it is entirely up to Sheikh Hamdan, Richard Hills and Angus Gold and so on. I will come up with a plan but I am sure Sheikh Hamdam will have his say.
“This is pretty special. I always think all my owners want to win the Sussex Stakes, and I want to win it for them.”
Jim Crowley said: “It was sweet. It was a bit of redemption after Royal Ascot. The race today didn’t really go to plan as I would have liked. I was quite well marked throughout and Mohaather really got me out of that.
“We went forward today on him and the plan was to sit one off the rail. I didn’t think the pace was very strong and then Frankie [Dettori, aboard Wichita] came up on the outside and I ended up following Vatican City and I wasn’t in a great pitch all of a sudden.
“I was in a bit of a pocket and I knew I was going to need some luck. I knew I wasn’t going to get a run and I knew Siskin was going to play his cards late so my option was to get on the back of him and follow him through.
“We had to let the race unfold before him and then pull around Siskin. When he saw daylight, he just absolutely flew. He showed the most electric turn of foot. To give weight away to younger horses and pick them was just special really.
“I had gone forward in the race and then been taken out of the race and had to go round the field. Obviously giving weight away, I thought that was a very special performance. The way it panned out, he was exceptional.
“You could see why at the start of the year we were contemplating going down the sprinting route with Mohaather. I never had any doubt he could win a Group One over six furlongs. I remember Guy Harwood saying to me that all his good horses could also win over six furlongs and could have won July Cups and things like that – I would say this horse in the mould of some really good horses. He would definitely win over six, he is that good.
“Marcus has done an unbelievable job. You wouldn’t meet a nicer man and he has done a great job with this horse to get him back.
“After Royal Ascot, I was gutted and I was gutted for Marcus, but he took it on the chin and I was just so pleased Mohaather could come and do this today. He is a great trainer and it is great to repay him. Marcus has trained some fantastic horses over the years and it is nice to show people that given the right ammunition, he will train Group One winners.
“Royal Ascot ate away at me for a few days and when he won again at Ascot under Dane O’Neill, I was so happy to see him win like that.
“I had ridden him in work in the early part of his career and he had given me a feel that not many horses have done.
“Mohaather is so athletic, a really good-looking horse and he has class. It was the right decision to go down the mile route and he just has so much pace.
“His best form has been on slower ground, but I don’t doubt he would be just as good on quicker ground.
“I won this race a few years ago on Here Comes When and it’s great to win the Sussex Stakes again. You could say that win was a little bit of a fluke that day whereas we did it properly today.”
Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Siskin (Ger Lyons IRE/Colin Keane) fared best of the three-year-olds, a further half-length away in third with Newmarket 2,000 Guineas scorer Kameko (Andrew Balding/Oisin Murphy, 5/1) in fourth, another two lengths adrift.
Jockey Colin Keane: “It was a brilliant run I thought from Siskin. They went a good, even gallop throughout and my horse travelled into it well and came there to win.
“He just bumped into two older, hardened horses and maybe the ground just being on the slow side blunts his speed a little bit, but we are very happy.”
Trainer Ger Lyons: “I am delighted with the run from Siskin. He is the best three-year-old. He came to win his race and he was outstayed by two older horses. There were no excuses and that is all I asked for coming into the race that we would have no excuses.
“Colin said the ground blunted his speed a bit. One thing we have learned is he is a proper miller and the faster the ground the better. There will be no decisions made, but he probably has Breeders’ Cup written all over him.”
Racing Manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, Lord Grimthorpe: “Siskin has run a really good race. We have got absolutely no complaints and he has come out of the race as the best three-year-old miler so that is a positive.
“He has had every chance and run really well so there we are. It was a good race, but he wasn’t beaten far. There is always a moment where you think you have a chance. We have no complaints at all.
“We are going to discuss a whole lot of options. We will see how he is and see what Prince Khalid wants to do – there are a number of options for him, all of which are pretty obvious.
“We have got a bit of time to think about it. We will see how he comes out of the race. It was only his second race of the year, so there is still more to come from him.
“We will sit down and come up with a plan and take it from there.”
Trainer Andrew Balding: “I have only seen it once with the naked eye and I would have to watch it again, but he looked unlucky. He has finished on the heels of them and Oisin was a bit unlucky on him, but it happens round here.”
Jockey Oisin Murphy: “Kameko jumped very smart. Obviously, I wanted to take a lead and I thought Circus Maximus would make the running. I couldn’t find any room up the straight and I felt like the best horse didn’t win on the day. Unfortunately, these things happen sometimes and it is jockey error. I hope then horse is sound in the morning and he lives to fight another day. Apologies to his connections. A lot of hard work goes into preparing these horses and nobody wants hard luck stories.
“You saw the way he travelled, and I was full of horse for most of the race. I haven’t spoken to Andrew [Balding] or Sheikh Fahad in any depth but I view Kameko very much as a miler.”
3.15pm G1 Qatar Sussex Stakes (British Champions Series) 1m
1 Mohaather – Marcus Tregoning 4-9-08 Jim Crowley 3/1
2 Circus Maximus – Aidan O’Brien IRE 4-9-08 Ryan Moore 6/1
3 Siskin – Ger Lyons IRE 3-9-00 Colin Keane 9/4 Fav
Winner owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum
Breeding: b c Showcasing – Roodeye (Inchinor)
Breeder: Gaie Johnson Houghton
Time: 1m 38.75s
Distances: ¾, ½
Tote Win: £3.90 Places: £2.20, £2.70 Exacta: £21.50
Marcus Tregoning – 12th winner at the Qatar Goodwood Festival
Jim Crowley – 16th winner at the Qatar Goodwood Festival