Godolphin hope Home of the Brave was caught in the shadow of the post as he filled the runner-up spot for a second consecutive year in the seven-furlong G2 Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood Tuesday.
The five-year-old, trained by Hugo Palmer and ridden by James Doyle, was quickly into his stride and soon led the 13 runners on the inside rail.
He found more when pressed by Spirit Of Valor in the straight and rallied strongly to regain the advantage after Limato briefly hit the front inside the final furlong.
Home Of The Brave continued to stay on resolutely but was collared near the line by Breton Rock, who came wide from last to first for a half-length success in 1m 26.62s on ground described as good, good to soft in places in the straight.
“It was a great race from Home Of The Brave” said Palmer. “James was incredulous coming in, Home Of The Brave had fought back against Limato and beaten him off, and then still lost the race.”
“Credit to the winner, he has had to come past them all. We know Breton Rock is at his best when he can get his toe in the ground and that tells you the truth about the ground today. It is nice good ground but they are getting their toe in.
“There is no excuse for my horse. He won his race. The plan was always three runs in England and then we would look overseas. He has done nothing there today to suggest that it should change.
“I think he would be very competitive in a Breeders Cup Mile or something similar. He likes time between his races. The obvious thing is to give him a nice break and take him to California. “I couldn’t fault Home Of The Brave” agreed Doyle.
“He won his race with Limato, but Breton Rock has come down the middle of the track and done us all” The winning run capped a remarkable day for Italian rider Andrea Atzeni, grabbing the headlines with an incredible four-timer aboard Expert Eye, Breton Rock, Stradivarius and Shenanigans.
Stradivarius was the undoubted highlight, as John Gosden’s young upstart denied the Michael Belltrained Big Orange an unprecedented hat-trick of victories in the Goodwood Cup.
In a battle of the generations, as well as two Royal Ascot winners, the Queen’s Vase scorer beat the Gold Cup hero in a memorable running of the two-mile feature, which was newly-promoted to Group One status this year.
Stradivarius got the better of the front-running Big Orange by a length and three-quarters to become the first three-year-old winner since Lucky Moon in 1990.
“It’s a great day” said Atzeni. “I thought I had a chance coming here, but knew Big Orange was the one to beat.”
Europe’s most highly-rated horse Ribchester tries for a fourth G1 mile success in the Sussex Stakes, the highlight of day two of Glorious Goodwood Wednesday.
The Richard Fahey-trained four-year-old ran on strongly to finish a close third in the same race 12 months ago before going on to gain a first G1 victory in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.
After finishing third on his seasonal return in the nine-furlong G1 Dubai Turf at Meydan on March 25, Ribchester dropped back to a mile for the G1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on May 20, when he stormed clear for a decisive win.
Godolphin’s Iffraaj colt showed an impressive turn of foot for success in the G1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. William Buick takes the ride again on Ribchester, with stable companion and likely pacemaker Toscanini (James Doyle) also among a nine-strong field.
Their opponents include this season’s English and Irish 2,000 Guineas victor Churchill, plus French G1 scorer Zelzal. “Ribchester is a very talented horse and we are very lucky to have him” said Fahey.
“I don’t think there is an issue with the track or the ground. He goes on any going and I don’t think that going round a bend at Goodwood will bother him.
“Ribchester was a little bit unlucky in the Sussex Stakes last year. He got himself into a position that didn’t suit, with both the winner and the second getting first run, while he was also a little keen.
“I am growing more in confidence with him every time I see him. The one thing with Ribchester is that he never lets us down.”
The Sydney Swans-Hawthorn AFL clash over the weekend typified all that is great about Australian sport.
Here we had two great teams, one fighting to stay in the title race, the other fighting for their season, battling it out over four ding-dong quarters on one of the world’s greatest sporting stages – the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
It was a fierce, committed, bruising encounter with no quarter asked or given. Players kept getting knocked down, again and again, but somehow kept dragging themselves to their feet for one last Herculean effort.
At times, so intense was the battle around the ball, the match resembled rugby union more than Aussie Rules.
Both teams gave their absolute all, leaving everything they had on the field, in a contest that has now grown into one of the AFL’s great rivalries.
The Hawks even played a man down in the second half, with young defender Blake Hardwick suffering concussion. The score see-sawed during the 100 minutes with first the Hawks taking a commanding 21-point lead at half-time before the Swans battled back to lead by two points in the fourth quarter.
There was heroism as Hawks’ stars Jarryd Roughead went off with a nasty gash in the first quarter only to get stitched up and come back on to kick the decisive goal in the final term.
There was controversy as Liam Shiels claimed the Hawks first major for the second half when he soccered home a loose ball in the goal square in the final quarter.
Sydney appealed for a touched behind, and the decision went to the score review, but the replay was inconclusive and the original decision stood – although it could have easily been overturned.
Watching on from high above in the stands we had two brilliant coaches – Alastair Clarkson of Hawthorn, who in 12 seasons, has four Premiership and one Grand Final triumph, and John Longmire, with one Premiership and two Grand Final wins.
When the chips were down the champs found that extra yard, as they have done so often under the brilliant Clarkson.
There was also the bizarre, as Will Langford drew the ire of Sydney co-captain Jarrad McVeigh by giving him a kiss in the final quarter, which the Swans veteran later claimed was disrespectful.
Roughead said afterwards: “It was Langers’ way of trying to get under the skin of an opposition player,” but admitted it was a “little bit different” to probably what many other players would have done in that position.
It continues the odd tradition of Hawthorn players kissing Swans.
Hawks captain Luke Hodge gave Swans superstar Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin a kiss in the 2014 Grand Final, which was won by Hawthorn.
Former Hawk Franklin and Hodge had their own running battle during the game.
Franklin, who has been muscled out of recent matches between the teams, made his intentions clear in the opening minutes, striking Hodge with an open palm to the face as they contested a stoppage.
He could also find himself in trouble with the match review panel after giving away a free-kick minutes later when he cleaned up Hodge with a swinging forearm to the back of the head.
Truth be told Franklin may have won the physical battle but he will be disappointed overall after a number of mis-kicks and a poor return of 1.1 for the game.
Then at the end of it all we had both teams standing together shoulder to shoulder, battered and bruised, in mutual respect, as the Beyond Blue Cup was presented by former PM Julia Gillard.
There were even a few smiles.
The Hawks had ended the Swans’ seven match winning streak and in so doing, kept alive their own hopes of making the finals, a streak that stretches back to 2010.
Whatever fate unfolds for these two great teams this season, any match between them is worthy of the title, Grand Final.