Howden Roars In Duke Of Cambridge Thriller

Gr2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes 2024

Owner-breeder David Howden, whose company Howden Insurance is an official partner of Ascot, saw his colours carried to victory by Running Lion in the Gr2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes on Wednesday, Day 2 of the festival.

Oisin Murphy rode the 6/1 winner, making most of the running and gaining a game response from his partner in the home straight, with Running Lion ultimately scoring by two lengths.

Running Lion wins the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes credit - Megan Coggin

Running Lion wins the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (Pic – Megan Coggin

Her John and Thady Gosden-trained stable-mate Laurel came out of the pack to take second on her first appearance since May 2023, two lengths ahead of third-placed Doom.

The 100/30 favourite Rogue Millennium, who won the race last year when it was run on the straight course, finished fifth.

Howden said: “I knew Running Lion had it in her and what a way to do it, fantastic. She gets her head down, she changes her legs and she digs in. Her sire Roaring Lion ran the same way, with his head down, and it’s wonderful to see.

“We are obviously a partner at Royal Ascot. I bred her, she’s by Roaring Lion who tragically died, so it just couldn’t be more special. For Oisin to do it on Roaring Lion’s filly is as good as it gets.”

John Gosden said: “Running Lion has been unlucky. She moved a bit soon in the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket and then got boxed in at Epsom. We did decide this time, Oisin, do what you want. He was drawn 11, go to the front, and control it. It was perfect, because we got in a muddle in the last two races.

“The second filly Laurel has run a brilliant race. She has been off for 13 months so she’s run an absolute blinder from the inside and Ryan [Moore] is very happy with her.”

Murphy said: “Running Lion is by the horse that put me on the map, Roaring Lion, and she’s owned by David Howden, who sponsors Ascot through Howden Insurance.

“She was brilliant today, we got it together. The plan was to go forward and forget about her last two races. Today I had to have a bit of confidence to go out and do my own thing, and fair play to David Howden, David Redvers and John and Thady – they allowed me to have an open book, and when she broke well and pricked her ears up, I was happy to lead.

“When she saved energy like that, she was going to be hard to pass. I got some breathers into her all the way round the turn, but today I had the horse to do that, whereas on her first start this year I couldn’t slow her down.

“This means an awful lot, because there were no complaints when things didn’t go right at Newmarket and Epsom, and I appreciate that support and confidence in me. David Howden is vital to British racing, and he’s been rewarded this afternoon.”

David Redvers, who advises Howden, said: “I think we’re all pretty delirious. Running Lion had a couple of near efforts, and what’s great is seeing her now with everything kept really simple and uncomplicated. Oisin said she loved meeting that ground, loved the hill and hopefully that is the start of an upward trajectory towards a Group One before too long.

“It is so lovely seeing her – very reminiscent of her sire [Roaring Lion] – there are a lot of lovely things about that. And it’s brilliant for someone like David who is investing so much through sponsorship, breeding… and who is just getting going. To have a proper winner is wonderful.

“There is no one riding better than Oisin at the moment. He was so frustrated with the outcome and the ride at Epsom, he made up for it today in spades.

“It’s lovely to have a Tweenhills-bred winner, bred in partnership with David. The old line is that this is our Olympics, but it really is. We’ve had four seconds virtually in a row for Qatar and it is getting really frustrating, so hopefully we can have one for Qatar as well.”

Doom’s trainer William Haggas said: “She ran a lovely race. We weren’t sure about the ground and the trip, but she handled both very well, so it’s onwards and upwards for us. She is in the Falmouth and she might be in the Rothschild. I don’t see any reason why we should be going backwards – we’d like to win a proper Group race with her. She’s stayed in training to do things like this and hopefully she will. She’s run two very good races this year and needs to win now.”

  • Gr2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes

1 Running Lion (David Howden) John & Thady Gosden 4-9-02 Oisin Murphy 6/1

2 Laurel (Juddmonte) John & Thady Gosden 5-9-02 Ryan Moore 4/1

3 Doom (James Wigan) William Haggas 4-9-02 Tom Marquand 12/1

14 ran                 10/3F Rogue Millennium (5th)

John & Thady Gosden – 11th Royal Ascot winner

Oisin Murphy – 13th Royal Ascot winner

*John Gosden trained 55 Royal Ascot winners in his own name

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