Mohaather put up an amazing performance to land the highlight of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, the mile Gr1 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.
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.”
Gr1 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