Universal (left) sticks his neck out to fend off Dandino in a thrilling finishPICTURE: Getty
Universal proves too tough a nut to crack
Report: Newmarket, Saturday
Qatar Bloodstock Jockey Club Stakes (Group 2) 4yo+, 1m4f
A TYPICAL gutsy front-running display from a Mark Johnston-trained runner won the day in this four-runner affair as 11-4 shot Universal just saw off previous race winner Dandino in a thrilling duel on the Rowley Mile.
The John Porter winner Universal was given a good ride from Joe Fanning to just hold off the second with Wigmore Hall in third. Noble Mission was disappointing in last spot.
Just like the John Porter, the winner was just too tough a nut to crack. Last month at Newbury it looked for all the world as though Noble Mission was going to win, but he could never get past. This time Dandino was the unfortunate soul, and in his case it wasn't for want of trying or lack of jockeyship. His rider Johnny Murtagh pressed the button at exactly the right time going into the Dip and his mount proceeded to give everything. He might have edged ahead at one point, but come the line he just was not getting passed.
Credit must go to Fanning as the fractions set, as displayed by Turftrax, showed near perfect judgement and it certainly seemed to catch Tom Queally and Noble Mission out as Sir Henry Cecil's colt was caught flat-footed when they quickened and could never bridge the gap thereafter.
"He's a tough horse," said Fanning of the winner. "Since he's come back from Dubai he's been in great form. A Group 1 next? Why not?."