Hollie Doyle and Trueshan were triumphant in the Gr1 Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup, the highlight on day one of the Qatar Goodwood Festival on Tuesday, to give trainer Alan King a first Gr1 success on the Flat.
Sent off the 6/5 favourite following the withdrawal of four-time Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup winner Stradivarius, the five-year-old was expected to deliver, and he did just that, powering clear in the closing stages of the two-mile contest.
Doyle made a decisive move as the combination entered the home straight, steering her mount to the stands’ side rail and impressively repelling all challengers.
Runner-up Away He Goes (33/1) briefly threatened to be competitive but couldn’t live with the winner, ultimately going down by three and three-quarter lengths.
The third home Sir Ron Priestley (9/2) was loaded into the horse ambulance and taken for a scan having collapsed after the race.
King said: “It is a very special moment. I have been very calm all morning, then when John [Gosden] took out Stradivarius and we were shortening all the time, the nerves really started to kick in. I have not been this nervous for a long time.
“I have always enjoyed my Flat races and this is very special. This is up there with the Champion Hurdles. All I want to do is train proper horses! I am not giving up the jumping yet!
“Hollie has given him a great ride and the owners have been great supporters of mine. Trueshan can be a little keen so I’m glad he had a proper race at Newcastle – he could have been ferocious today if he hadn’t had that run.
“Trueshan is very ground dependent. We had to take him out of the Gold Cup, which is very hard to do.
“He is in the Lonsdale and he is in the Irish St Leger. I will talk to the boys, but we will probably take him out in the morning at the forfeit stage. The Cadran will probably be his big target in the autumn.”
Doyle and Trueshan had previously combined to win the Gr2 QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup on testing ground at Ascot in October, the same day she landed a breakthrough first G1 success on Glen Shiel.
Doyle said: “This is one of the best days I’ve ever had. When I got a taste of the success at Ascot on Glen Shiel, I got a bit more hungry and determined to want it more often.
“I never really feel pressure, but today something did come over me as I didn’t want to let everyone down. I was very confident going into the race. I haven’t had many experiences of Goodwood, let alone on a short-priced favourite. I was feeling it a bit more than normal, but Trueshan is an exceptionally talented animal on this ground.
“He was pretty fresh early on. They were going no gallop and I expected there to be a bit of pace on. Halfway round I thought I have to do something about this as I’m not getting trapped on the rail and so I managed to slide onto the girth of the others and he then settled. The further we went, the better he went. When I hit the rising ground, he’s gone again.
“I can’t say Trueshan is very ground dependent as I haven’t ridden him on anything different to this ground, but he certainly is talented on this ground. I think he probably does enjoy getting his toe in obviously.
“I got some buzz off that – I don’t get too high or too low, but when you have experiences like that you have to make the most of it.”
“All credit to Alan and to the owners for keeping faith in me! Trueshan has been in my mind every day since Champions Day and these are the days you do it for.”
Winning co-owner David Hall said: “It is very hard to put it into words. They tried to slow it down in front, but Hollie made sure that the horse got the gallop he needs.
“There is nothing better than winning a Group 1 on the Flat. I like National Hunt racing but after this, it’s going to be Goodwood all the way. This is the best racecourse in the world.
“Hollie really has been the making of this horse. She takes no nonsense and doesn’t let anyone boss her around in the race.”
Away He Goes’ trainer Ismail Mohammed said: “He ran super. He ran only 17 days ago, and it was doubtful with the soft ground because he has had problems with soft ground before. Today he is a different horse, he doesn’t act like a five-year-old.
“Group 1’s are not easy and it is amazing for our group and our small stable. So far we have Groups 3’s, and we are moving steps forward.
“At one point I thought we might win it! We were watching and thought we’d get there.”
Jockey Jim Crowley added: “Away He Goes has run a great race. His form in Dubai is better than it seems. He probably wants better ground, but the trip was ok for him.
“He was travelling better than the winner, but the winner is a good horse and has outstayed him on that ground.”
John Gosden, who trains Stradivarius with his son Thady, said: “It’s difficult because obviously we were very keen to try and do something that has never been done before, which is win five Goodwood Cups in a row. He is in great form, full of himself and ready to run but I’m afraid when you yet 60mm of rain since midday Sunday and another bucketload last night.
“I walked the track out in the country with Thady and the stick is going straight to the bottom. It turns it into a bit of a two-mile slog and Stradivarius is a horse who can travel with a great acceleration and a great turn of foot. He can put in pretty amazing fractions for the last two/three furlongs but you are not going to do it on that ground. I think at his age, you have to play to his strengths.
“We made foolish decisions last year to run him at Longchamp on bottomless ground by the river Seine, which he loathed, and then even more stupid to run him on Champions Day on very heavy ground at Ascot. Having made the mistake twice, we weren’t quite prepared to do the same thing again.
“All being well and doing things right by the horse, we would like to go to the Lonsdale at York, which is a race he knows well. The easiest thing is to run, the hardest thing is not to run. You must always remember to do what is in the best interests of the horse. All being well, we will go to the Lonsdale and look at something like the Doncaster Cup after that.”
Gr1 Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup (British Champions Series)
1 Trueshan (Singula Partnership) Alan King 5-9-09 Hollie Doyle 6/5 fav
2 Away He Goes (Khalifa Saeed Sulaiman) Ismail Mohammed 5-9-09 Jim Crowley 33/1
3 Sir Ron Priestley (Paul Dean) Mark Johnston 5-9-09 Franny Norton 9/2
- Alan King – 2nd Qatar Goodwood Festival winner
- Hollie Doyle – 2nd Qatar Goodwood Festival winner