Mawj gained a scintillating success in the Qipco 1000 Guineas, getting the better of favourite Tahiyra after an epic duel up the Rowley Mile at Newmarket on Sunday.
Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, the Exceed And Excel filly showed guts aplenty under a superb ride from Oisin Murphy to score by half a length.
The 9-1 winner had to do the hard work on the near side as the 20-strong field split into two groups – and it always looked like being a two-horse battle from the dip.
Tahiyra fell out of the stalls, but made silky-smooth headway under Chris Hayes and the Dermot Weld-trained filly looked the most likely winner a furlong out.
However, on her first start of the season, the Moyglare winner – sent off the 6-4 market leader – just lost out to the battle-hardened Mawj, who had twice won in Meydan over the winter.
The pair were seven and a half lengths clear of Kieran Cotter’s Matilda Picotte, who had helped the set the pace on the far-side group and stuck to her guns gallantly. Caernarfon was fourth at 50-1 for Jack Channonn.
It was a welcome return to the big-race winner’s enclosure for Bin Suroor and his third success in the race following Cape Verdi (1998) and Kazzia (2002), while it was Murphy’s second Classic after Kameko’s 2000 Guineas win in 2020.
Bin Suroor said: “I think this is my 195th Group One winner around the world. The filly had been doing good before the race. She is a tiny filly but she has a big heart. She is a Group Two winner and is unbeaten in Dubai. I talked to Sheikh Mohammed before we ran her in Dubai over a mile as what you see in her pedigree, being by Exceed And Excel, there is plenty of speed, but we tried her over the mile and she won it well in Dubai.
“I talked to Sheikh Mohammed before we declared her and he agreed to run her. It was a great decision from him and the filly has won well so we are happy with her.
“Charlie (Appleby) and myself are a good team. He worked for me for a long time and he has become one of the best trainers now. We are good friends.
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“We will keep the options open as I want to see how she comes back after the race but she is entered in the French Guineas, but that is too close, and she is also in the Irish Guineas. We will talk to Sheikh Mohammed and make a decision in a week or two.
“It means a lot as it has been a long time since we won a Classic race in England. It means a lot to myself, Godolphin and the sport also. It has taken us a long time to win another 1000 Guineas.
“When we started we had very good horses in those days but recently things have been slow with the quality of horses but luckily when I saw this filly start to work, despite her being tiny, she showed her class.
“We ran her in Group races last year and she managed to win one in England then we stepped her up to a mile in Dubai and she won the Jumeirah Fillies Guineas well.
“We talked to Sheikh Mohammed and he let her run in the Guineas today and Oisin gave her a good ride. She has a big heart and I thought she was going to win when they were close.
“I thought she would do well as her last two pieces of work here in Newmarket were brilliant.
“It is a great boost for the stable and everybody at the yard will be really happy.”
Murphy, riding his second Classic winner, said: “Running Lion was so impressive earlier so I was full of confidence riding her. I’ve had so many important days (with Saeed) with the likes of Royal Marine and Benbatl. He is a huge supporter and thanks to his team and him for giving me the leg up.
“I’m super relieved really as I thought I had a horse good enough to win. I was watching her replays again this morning for the fifth time. I was thinking did she really win eight and a half lengths last time out in Meydan, and why did she win so easily. She is clearly just exceptional. Tahiyra is top class, we think, as her win in the Group One in Ireland last year was phenomenal and it was miles back to the rest of the field today.
“I thought I had a really good chance when I was booked for her then I wasn’t sure with the rain and how she would cope with this ground. The word from Saeed Bin Suroor and his team was that she was in incredible shape and it was brilliant to be part of it.
“They are two top class fillies. It is lovely to see a Classic like that when they go clear and show their class. She travelled so well through the race. She never pulled. Even going to post she was asleep. I got out well and had loads of options and I just got her into a rhythm in a straight line. It was very uncomplicated.
“She travelled into the Dip and then it was just about keeping her going. I had four full race days with lots of chances (without a winner) until Teumessias Fox won yesterday then Running Lion won earlier but this is a different level.
“This is beyond my wildest dreams. I had a really good start back thanks to lots of different trainers supporting me, particularly Andrew Balding, and George Boughey who put me on Missed The Cut on a big day in Saudi Arabia. Just to get back in the big races with a crowd here it is a great feeling.
“I think she has lots of class. That was a true test on holding ground. I hit the line as well as Tahiyra so I would be very hopeful that she can be dominant at a mile.
“They (all my big race successes) mean a lot. Even my first winner back meant an awful lot. I’ve realised, particularly as I’ve got older, that these top class horses are super hard to find. There were 20 connections there thinking they had a chance of winning the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and there can only be one winner so you have got to savour the moment when you get those victories.”