Westphalia strikes for O'Brien and Murtagh
REPORT: CHAMPAGNE STAKES, Saturday
WESTPHALIA came with a perfectly timed challenge under Johnny Murtagh to get the better of hot-favourite Zacinto in the Group 2 Keepmoat Champagne Stakes.
A steady early pace meant that only five lengths covered the field as the runners approached the two-furlong marker. It was at this point that Philip Robinson, riding Playfellow, kicked for home. His effort was short-lived as Ryan Moore delivered 13-8 favourite Zacinto with what looked a race-winning move.
However, Murtagh produced Westphalia with a stunning late run up the stands' side rail to nail Zacinto in the shadow of the post. The winner was well backed before the race and returned the 100-30 second favourite.
Joint-owner Michael Tabor said of the winner: "That's a good start to the day and it is always nice to have a winner.
"I spoke to Aidan yesterday and he intimated that we could excuse the horse's last run due to the ground.
"He is a progressive horse and Johnny said he could perhaps be one for the Breeders' Cup so we will think about that."
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, said of the Sir Michael Stoute-trained runner-up: "He picked up OK in the ground and his action seemed fine, but it was only his second race and he will come on a lot for that.
"There are plenty of nice two-year-old races left this season and we will be looking maybe at the Dewhurst."
Michael Jarvis said of third-placed Playfellow: "We are very happy with that. It looked like he was going to get swallowed up but he ran on again to get third.
"Seven furlongs looks his tripand we will aim him maybe at Horris Hill."
Coral were quick to cut Aidan O'Brien's colt for next year's 2000 Guineas and go 25-1 from 40-1. Runner-up Zacinto has been eased to 25-1 from 14-1 for the race with the same firm.