AGELESS warrior Cavalryman is set to line up at York’s Ebor festival – before a possible tilt at the Melbourne Cup – after rolling back the years to win a thrilling renewal of the Artemis Goodwood Cup.
It was a close call.
Kieren Fallon’s mount only had a rapidly diminishing length in hand from Godolphin stablemate Ahzeemah following this two-mile marathon in which the Queen’s Estimate finished last.
In winning so narrowly after securing a decisive lead in the final quarter mile, Godolphin-owned Cavalryman became the first eight-year-old to triumph in this prestigious marathon since the era of the legendary Persian Punch.
Trained by David Elsworth of Desert Orchid fame, Persian Punch was already eight when he won his first Goodwood Cup in 1991 before winning a second renewal two years later amid delirious scenes of delight. On both occasions, Persian Punch then headed to York for the Lonsdale Cup for stayers, winning in 2001 before finishing fourth to Tim Easterby’s St Leger winner Bollin Eric in 2003.
This is the task now facing Cavalryman, who has winning form at York after lifting the 2012 Stowe Family Law LLP Grand Cup under Frankie Dettori.
“He’s a good fighter, he goes on any ground and he has improved with age,” said trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
“He’s a stayer and a mile and three quarters and two miles are the best trip for him. He showed some turn of foot and now we take him to York for the two-mile race, the Lonsdale, and at the end of the season I will talk to Sheikh Mohammed, but it could be the Melbourne Cup.”
Australia’s most celebrated race could also be the target for Ahzeemah whose young jockey, Harry Bentley, is becoming more poised with every ride. His time will come as he learns from Fallon’s exemplary judgment of pace.
As for the vanquished, footballer Michael Owen’s Brown Panther was third – the firm ground did not appear to suit the two-time Pontefract winner – while Estimate never travelled under jockey Ryan Moore.
Though Her Majesty’s horse won the 2013 Ascot Gold Cup so memorably, she faded tamely in the straight to add to the disappointment of Royal connections following the mare’s positive test for morphine.
John Warren, The Queen’s racing and bloodstock adviser, said: “Ryan said she was never happy, right from the moment he jumped off.”
Meanwhile, Joe Fanning’s winning run continued when Lyn Valley beat stablemate Rainbow Rock to give Middleham trainer Mark Johnston a sixth win in the Fairmount Handicap.
“This horse’s sire, Shamardal, was probably the best I’ve ever had although he was around the same time as Attraction,” said the handler.
2012 Ladbrokes St Leger winner Encke finally makes his return to action today in the Coutts Glorious Stakes at Goodwood.
The five-year-old was the most high profile of the 22 Godolphin horses banned from racing as part of the Mahmood Al Zarooni drugs scandal.
Encke denied Camelot the Triple Crown at Doncaster in September 2012 and makes his comeback in this Group Three contest in the care of Al Zarooni’s successor Charlie Appleby.
“He is not 100 per cent but is fit enough to do himself justice,” said the trainer.
Two-time St Leger-winning jockey William Buick takes the ride as he continues his burgeoning association with the Godolphin organisation.