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Farhh Ascot 19.10.13

Farhh (blue cap) holds on to triumph in the Champion Stakes

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)  

Farhh too good in thrilling Champion

Report: Ascot, Saturday

Qipco Champion Stakes (Group 1) 1m2f, 3yo+

THE fragile Farhh proved he is talented too when he returned to action to triumph in Saturday's Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot, his final race before retirement.

Absent since an impressive success in the Lockinge in May, Farhh showed no signs of rustiness when denying Cirrus Des Aigles and Derby winner Ruler Of The World in a thrilling finish to the feature race on British Champions Day.

Described by Saeed Bin Suroor as a hard horse to train, Sheikh Mohammed's homebred was having only the tenth start of a career interrupted by injury problems and setbacks.

However, his ability has never been an issue and he again showed his effectiveness when returning from a lengthy break to record a neck success under a canny Silvestre de Sousa ride.

Stablemate Hunter's Light made the early running and De Sousa was never far away on the five-year-old.

Cirrus Des Aigles, the 2011 Champion Stakes winner who gave the mighty Frankel something to think about in the race 12 months ago, was held up and travelled powerfully.

Also ridden with restraint was Ruler Of The World, bidding to become only the third Derby winner to win the Champion Stakes in the same season since the second world war.

Entering the turn for home, De Sousa made the decision to pounce and he soon struck the front on Farhh, whose stamina for a gruelling 1m2f test on soft ground was not guaranteed.

He demonstrated he is not just talented, but tough too as Cirrus Des Aigles and Ruler Of The World charged home in a pulsating conclusion.

Winning Connections - Farhh

Winning connections with Farhh

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham  

It went the way of the Godolphin star, his biggest win after a string of seconds against the likes of Frankel, Moonlight Cloud, So You Think and Nathaniel last term.

Farhh's win in the Lockinge came as the organisation was still reeling from the steroid scandal in the spring which resulted in former Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni being banned for eight years and his Champion Stakes victory provided them with a major high in a difficult year.

Bin Suroor, a stalwart of Godolphin since 1995, was left hoarse after landing his first Champion Stakes, but said the win was a big boost for the operation, which clinched a ninth champion owners' crown in 17 years.

He said: "This horse is a great fighter. He had a break after winning the Lockinge and he has been a miler in the past but a mile and a quarter was great for him today on that ground. He was the best horse in the race today. I am very proud of him and this is good for Godolphin.

"Every year, he has had problems. Luckily, he has won a pair of Group 1s on his last two races. He is a great horse and I am so happy.

"He's been a very tough horse since he was a two-year-old but we've just had to look after him with a different programme to keep him sound. His last piece of work was brilliant and the ground was a concern but he handled it well."

Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford, who confirmed Farhh would stand as a stallion at Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket next year, paid tribute to Bin Suroor's handling of the horse.

He said: "Saeed has done a magnificent job getting him back to win the Champion Stakes. He's been lightly raced because of irritating issues which have kept him off the track, but he is a great horse. He has done enough."

Aidan O'Brien - Newmarket 2011

Aidan O'Brien: looking forward to Ruler Of The World next year

  PICTURE: Getty Images  

Corine Barande-Barbe, the trainer of Cirrus Des Aigles, was delighted with the performance of her stable star under Christophe Soumillon.

"He ran a great race and it's not so often horses run in this race three times in a row," she said.

"We beat a very good field and he showed all the doubts this year are forgotten and maybe we will be back next year."

Soumillon said: "I had a good ride and when we turned into the straight I thought we were going to win. I knew Farhh was the horse to beat so I tried to follow him, but unfortunately when I got to him he found more.

Aidan O'Brien, who trains Ruler Of The World for Coolmore partners John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, also took some positives from the race.

He said: "Hopefully he is a horse we can look forward to next year. Himself and Kingsbarns [third in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes], they were some runs for three-year-olds. Ruler Of The World had a good and long season and I am delighted."

 
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