Mawj (4-1) survived a stewards’ enquiry to hand Godolphin handler Saeed bin Suroor a second victory in the Group Two Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes (Sponsored By bet365) – a quarter of a century after his first with Asfurah (1997).
Partnered by Ray Dawson, the Exceed And Excel juvenile filly made all in the six-furlong contest to score by half a length from 15-8 Favourite Lezoo with another length and three quarters back to Queen Olly (9-1) in third.
A stewards’ enquiry was held after the winner bumped the runner-up in the final furlong. The placings subsequently remained unaltered although Dawson picked-up up a three-day ban for careless riding after it was held he had failed to take sufficient steps to prevent his mount from drifting left-handed.
Saeed bin Suroor said: “I talked to Ray and he agreed that he will keep the race, this filly was good and she was straight. She moved a little bit but I don’t think it affected the result and the way she won the race is exciting and now we’re looking at the Cheveley Park.
“She’s a tiny filly but she obviously has class. I remember when she won here first time out off the back of one piece of work because she was light and she won well. She was behind a good filly at Ascot and now winning this is a good result for her.
“I hope she grows. Sometimes the fillies change as three-year-olds but if she grows it would be great. I’ll take her to Dubai to find nice races for her in the winter, but her next target is the Cheveley Park. She will have a break now.
“Seven furlongs will be better for her at the end of the season.”
Ray Dawson commented: “Obviously there was interference, I was unaware where Frankie was until probably the last furlong and it was a little bit late then. I straightened my filly up and in fairness she was always going to stay in front. We were fine and we obviously kept the race but it’s mandatory that you’re going to get between two and four days and I got three which is fair enough. I watched the video of the head-on and I did let her drift across and I’ve got to be punished for that.
“I’m over the moon for this filly, Saeed and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, we got very excited when she won first time out at Newmarket and Ascot didn’t work out the way we hoped. She ran a great race but we bumped into a very good horse on the day and I said coming into it that she didn’t give me the same feel there as she did at Newmarket or today.
“She jumped and she was very professional. She wanted to please me the whole way and wanted to get her head in front and I feel when she needed to be she was very tough and she’s got a lot of scope for the future.
“She’s a gorgeous looking filly but physically she could probably fill out a bit. Saeed has trained thousands of horses so I’m sure he’ll know what to do and he’s got a great team behind him.
“Today I was very impressed with the strength she gave me even though she’s a light frame, she felt like a strong horse when she was galloping which was a very positive sign and mentally she’ll probably come on again. It’s very exciting, to be wearing such famous colours in a Group Two is a very special moment for myself.
“I’m getting great support off Saeed and Roger Varian and various other trainers. It’s been a fantastic few years and you work towards days like this, you hope that everything falls right on the day and when it does it’s great.
“She’s definitely heading towards a Group One, she’s ticking all the boxes. The Cheveley Park sounds about right at this moment, I think next year when she grows a bit she’ll definitely get a mile but for now that sounds the right way to go while giving her plenty of time in between as well.”
Ralph Beckett, trainer of runner-up Lezoo, said: “I was very pleased with the run. She ran her race and left it all there. We just couldn’t quite get it done. The fact she was ready for it from the way she was training I was happy to come back here after her Listed win here 13 days ago.
“Six furlongs on this ground appears her gig. Her dam Roger Sez was very much a soft ground filly that won the Firth Of Clyde so I wouldn’t mind trying her on it.”
David Loughnane, who saddled the third Queen Olly, said: “The ground was probably quick enough for us. She flew in the last furlong and I think stepping up to seven will make the difference with her. I was very happy with her performance and it was a good race. We will sit down and have a think about where we go but stepping up to seven furlongs is the way to go.”
The £100,000 bet365 bet365 Trophy Handicap (1m 6f) went the way of the Charlie & Mark Johnston-trained Soapy Stevens (11-1), with just two short heads separating the first three home. The 100-1 chance Red Flyer took second with Zoffee (18-1) in third.
Mark Johnston said: “We were very hopeful obviously as we were coming off a win last time and he’s a horse who we’ve been a bit unsure about the trip with and if he stayed but he’s proving it now. You can never be confident in these sort of handicaps but we thought we had a very good chance. We were boxed in a bit during the race but it’s great he got himself out, he’s very game and so is the man on board.
“I have no real plans moving forward, we’ll just take it one step at a time. Charlie is the one who thinks ahead nowadays and knows the programme book inside out, so he probably has some ideas but I’m sure it will just be more of the same.”
Franny Norton, the winning rider, added: “I said at Chester that this lad had another one in him, but winning today is another matter. It looked a good race when I looked through it but I didn’t really know if I’d won or not because I was still pushing all the way to the road! I was probably by the clock tower before I realised I should pull up now!
“The idea really was to try and get him relaxed because he likes to get into a real rhythm. Frankie had me pinned one side and I had to wait for him to go before I could and we got the rub of the green today.”
Hayley Turner, jockey of runner-up Red Flyer, said: “He ran well and stayed the trip well. I think his trainers were surprised what a big price he was. I think keeping him locked up for as long as possible helped him. I wasn’t sure when we went past the post and neither was Franny (Norton, on Soapy Stevens). It was tight but it was hard to call.”
Hugo Palmer, trainer of the third Zoffee said: “He has run a hell of a race. I keep telling everyone this is my favourite horse and genuinely he is. He is just the most lovely game horse that wears his heart on his sleeve and tries his heart out. He thinks he won there.
“Frankie (Dettori) said he hit the front and just possibly flicked his ears a little bit and thought he had done enough. If you watch the replay he is in front again one stride after the line. He just goes down on his sword he is such a lovely horse. He has run four times for us now and won twice and been third twice. He is not brave enough for jumps or his trainer.
“The Cesarewitch is the obvious race for him. I put him in the Ebor but he is not going to get in but next year’s Ebor he might.
“Because he spent his time over jumps he is a young unexposed stayer. He did all his improving for Philip Hobbs and I’m just reaping the rewards and lucky enough to have a well-handicapped horse who tries his heart out.”
By Graham Clark & Nick Seddon/The Jockey Club
Photo: The Jockey Club/Newmarket Logo