Windhoek (yellow cap): was 30 kilos overweight according to his trainerPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Windhoek pips Greatwood to Millions
Report: Newmarket (Rowley Mile), Thursday
£200,000 Tattersalls Millions 3-Y-O Trophy (Class 2) 1m2f
THE Mark Johnston-trained Windhoek, a six-furlong Nottingham maiden winner on his only start at two, has won over almost twice as far on his first start at three and maintained his unbeaten record - landing £111,008.82 for connections in the process.
It is an amount more than 34 times greater than he picked up for that Nottingham maiden, such is the support given to these sales races by Tattersalls, and with a Dante entry, Windhoek was clearly expected to relish the extra distance.
That is exactly what he did, and having raced up with the pace Joe Fanning was travelling far stronger than his rivals as the race began to hot up and the pair popped a few lengths clear almost as soon as Fanning asked his mount to quicken.
Greatwood, ridden by Kieren Fallon, was perhaps the hard-luck story of the race, getting blocked in his run when Fallon wanted to make his move. Instead of continuing his stealthy progress from behind, Fallon was forced to snatch his mount up, angle out and then weave through horses.
That he was then only denied by a short-head will likely rankle his rider, but there will be other days for the Luca Cumani-trained, Highclere-owned three-year-old.
Ghurair, the even-money favourite, finished strongly given there were question marks over his ability to fully see out the trip. Staying on from an unlikely position inside the final furlong, he got to within a neck of Greatwood at the finish.
But those expecting a reversal of form should Windhoek and Greatwood reoppose may want to take heed of Johnston's thoughts, as he feels there is a lot more to come from his charge, while Fanning said: "Two and half out he took me there, and he just got a bit tired."
Johnston said: "I can't say we were that hopeful. He'd been off 330 days and on top of a fractured pastern he had a foot abscess which wouldn't go away.
"He was about 30 kilos overweight, but Joe [Fanning] had the pick and went for him. He obviously thought a lot of him but I think even he was surprised at just how good he was today."
Explaining the decision, Fanning added: "I won on him last year and I had never ridden the filly. We thought a lot of him."
On future plans, Johnston continued: "I'll have to talk to the owner, but the Dante is certainly on the cards."