IT is a measure of trainer Richard Fahey’s prowess to come away from Britain’s richest ever raceday with nearly £400,000 of prize money – it is one of the best pay days of his burgeoning career.
Yet, while it is testimony to the quality of horses at his Musley Bank yard at Malton, there will be disappointment that two Group One races narrowly eluded his grasp.
Even though 2000 Guineas third Ribchester comfortably got the better of his old adversaries in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Aidan O’Brien’s versatile Minding was just too good – as the trainer ventured in The Yorkshire Post on Saturday.
The superstar winner was recording her sixth Group One win and a gracious Fahey was the first to congratulate O’Brien for being able to drop the Epsom Oaks heroine back in trip from a mile-and-a-half to a mile – another stroke of genius from the Ballydoyle maestro.
Yet Fahey can draw confidence from the fact that Ribchester, ridden by William Buick, has grown in stature all year and that Sheikh Mohammed wants the Godolphin-owned colt to stay in training next year after winning just short of £250,000.
“He wasn’t unlucky but he maybe just over-raced a little bit in the early stages of the race,” said Fahey. “As I always say, he is a horse with a very high cruising speed and they couldn’t go quick enough for him early on.
“We are really happy with the run. He came back at Minding at the end of the race there but I am a huge admirer of the winner, she is a wonderful filly and we can be proud of how our horse has run. That was his last run of the season, he’s finished now.”
Earlier, Fahey’s unheralded Growl chased home the James Fanshawe-trained The Tin Man, named after legendary jockey Fred Archer, in the Qipco British Champions Sprint.
This race proved one too many this season for Leyburn trainer Karl Burke’s stable star Quiet Reflection who was unplaced – her customary end-of-race burst of acceleration was missing – while dual Nunthorpe winner Mecca’s Angel was clearly unsuited by the ground on her racing farewell before being retired to stud.
However Growl, ridden by Graham Lee, produced a career-best performance to beat these proven Group One performers after finishing second to Hambleton trainer Kevin Ryan’s Brando in last month’s Ayr Gold Cup.
With Brando a close third, Fahey believes the form is rock solid and says Growl – who won connections £129,000 – could head to the Dubai World Cup meeting next year.
“I was delighted with that performance. Graham said he was always travelling really well and I thought he was going to run a big race so it is a great result. It was a huge run and we are happy,” said Fahey whose 2015 Ayr Gold Cup winner Don’t Touch picked up £16,000 for finishing fifth.
As for Brando, his jockey Tom Eaves said: “It was a great run. He’s been a joy all year and I still think he’s improving. He’s definitely better with slower ground as well. He’s shown he can run well in this sort of grade so I’d imagine he’ll be running in all the big sprint races next year, especially if there’s a bit of cut.”
The meeting closed with Fahey’s Third Time Lucky finishing fifth – and collecting £5,825 – in the Balmoral Handicap under Ebor-winning jockey Adam McNamara.
The highlight of the day was French challenger Almanzor winning the 10-furlong Qipco Champion Stakes and defeating Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine Found.
Ironically Almanzor, trained by Jean Claude-Rouget and ridden by Christophe Soumillon, was sired by Wootton Bassett – the horse who provided Fahey with his first Group One winner when landing the Prix Jean Luc-Lagardere at Longchamp six years ago under Paul Hanagan.