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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

'He travelled like the winner throughout and quickened right away'

Muhaarar surges clear in 2015 Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes
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In the second of a series reflecting on Qipco British Champions Day highlights since its inauguration in 2011, Lewis Porteous recalls the victory of Muhaarar on his final start in the 2015 Champions Sprint Stakes.  

The clue is in the name when it comes to Qipco British Champions Day and those who attended the season finale two years ago got exactly what they paid for.

First there was St Leger heroine Simple Verse, a fitting queen in the Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes. Then there was Solow, crowned undisputed king of the milers in the QEII. But the performance of the day arguably came from another champ, as Muhaarar lived up to the billing with a fabulous display of brazen speed in the British Champions Sprint Stakes.  

Muhaarar had been magnificent in the inaugural Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and peerless against his elders in the July Cup and Prix Maurice de Gheest, but he saved his best for last, stamping his class all over his 19 opponents to end his career in style. 

“Undoubtedly it was his best performance,” recalls Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Hamdan Al Maktoum. “In his previous races he always looked like he hit a flat sport and then he’d run on, but he always had things in control at Ascot. He travelled like the winner throughout and quickened right away.”  

Muhaarar: retired as a four-time Group 1 winner after his Ascot success

Cruising into a challenging position under Paul Hanagan, it was a question of when rather than if, and once his rider gave the order he zipped clear for a sparkling two-length success.

Inevitably, considering the effortless nature of his victory over the likes of Sprint Cup winner Twilight Son and subsequent Group 1 winner The Tin Man, Muhaarar earned comparisons to his owner-breeder's legendary Dayjur.

Sheikh Hamdan declined to rank the duo when approached on the day, but there is no doubt he gained great pleasure from the victory.

Gold adds: “It was a big moment for him as it had been a while since we’d had such a high-class sprinter. The last one was Dayjur and they don’t come along too often. Dayjur was exceptional and Muhaarar was the next one in our team of sprinters.

"He wasn’t a tearaway and was a lovely horse to deal with. Everyone always felt he'd have got a mile and, though it’s hypothetical, I think if he’d stayed in training he might have gone on to even greater heights.”

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It was a big moment for Sheikh Hamdan as it had been a while since we’d had such a high-class sprinter. The last one was Dayjur
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