Hawaafez grinds out victory from the front
Report: Ascot, Saturday
Grosvenor Casinos Cumberland Lodge (Group 3) 1m4f, 3yo+
AN excellent front-running ride from Johnny Murtagh saw 9-4 joint-favourite Hawaafez register a dogged victory in the Cumberland Lodge.
The giant four-year-old was helped by the wayward Camborne, who offered little assistance to his helpless pilot Eddie Ahern in second.
The other joint market leader, Willing Foe, beat his stablemate Songcraft for third spot.
The winning rider was impressed with his mount. "She's big, strong, she handled the ground well and gave everything - that's all you can ask for in a racehorse," he said.
Murtagh took the bull by the horns in testing conditionss, setting a sedate gallop and kicking on from the home turn. As the filly lengthened the two Godolphin horses immediately started struggling, but Camborne was beginning to make his move.
It was from there that you had to feel for Ahern as his mount veered left, then right, with head high in the air, as the four-year-old did everything possible to ignore his jockey's urgings and the cheekpieces.
The runner-up's demeanour was in stark contrast to the gun-barrel-straight finish of the winner, who stretched her margin all the way to the line, by which time her rivals were legless.
The Long Distance Cup on Champions Day would be a viable option for Hawaafez and Murtagh had no concerns about an extra four furlongs were she to take her chance in that Group 3. "She stays longer than the mother in law," he said afterwards.