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Fascinating Rock Rolls Home in Champion Stakes

Fascinating RockPat Smullen scythed through the field to become the winningmost jockey in British Champions Day history, powering to the front on the Dermot Weld-trained Fascinating Rock and landing the feature Champion Stakes. Settled towards the rear as pacemaker Maverick Wave set a blistering gallop to get to the lead from stall 13, Smullen bided his time and turning for home still had more in front of him than behind as he began to deliver his challenge.

Having suffered all sorts of in-running injustice earlier on Forgotten Rules, Smullen enjoyed a charmed path this time, with gaps opening perfectly in front of him. He barely deviated from his line for the entirety of the straight to come through the middle of the field.

With a furlong to run he was yet to hit the front, with seven horses spread across the track, but Smullen's surging run soon resulted in him being in front and he powered clear for a one and a quarter length victory at odds of 10-1. Found, who sat last under Ryan Moore, had to follow Fascinating Rock through before switching to the inside rail and the 9-2 shot could do no better than fill the same runner's-up spot she has also occupied on four of her previous six starts.

Favourite flopped

Jack Hobbs was sent off the even-money favourite but unlike stablemate Golden Horn in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe he was unable to overcome his wide draw, finishing third.

The early bend and the keenness of those to his inside to bag prime position in behind meant he and pacemaker Maverick Wave, the only horse drawn outside Jack Hobbs in stall 13, had to really light it up to get to the front.

Once there the brakes were not applied, perhaps with William Buick keen to ensure the Irish Derby winner's stamina was seen to full effect. It is a testament to the ability of Gosden's colt that he was able to hold on for third, with the first two home coming from well off the pace and those that raced around him fading to finish down the field.

Gosden said: "You are forced to commit from that draw and we have had to use him quite a lot early, which would not be the normal plan. You will pay the price at the other end and that is what happened. I always thought he was a silly price and I was right."

Smullen, who picked up a two-day ban for overuse of the whip, said: "Our horses just fly around here for some reason. This horse has been a little bit overlooked for a while. People wanted to write him off after Windsor but he's such a big horse and he needed the run. He's a very good horse."

Weld added: "He likes this ground and I've thought this race would suit him for a while. I was very impressed with the way he won at Leopardstown and after that we stuck with the original plan, which was always today.

"The way he was ridden today was also always the plan, from off the pace. I had a fair idea they would go a pretty good gallop so I told Pat to take him time and hunt away as I knew the horse would come home for him. He'll be an better five-year-old as well. I'll speak to Morris [Reagan, owner] and see what he says. He's a good horse and this has been a very lucky track for us. "

Beaten horses

Aidan O'Brien said of the runner-up Found: "I am delighted with her run, she ran a great race. Ryan [Moore] let her relax and she came home very well.  We can look forward to her for next year, I would hope she will stay in training."

On Jack Hobbs, Gosden added: "He ran a great race today and this is no surprise to me, I said to [my wife] Rachel [Hood] coming down what would happen. We are drawn wide and we are going to have to use him with the pacemaker, he is still such an immature horse it will catch him out in the final furlong. That was exactly what happened.

"It is all about next year. He is a big, overgrown kid and I couldn't be more thrilled with him today. This horse will be bigger and stronger next year and I am not in the slightest bit disappointed in him.

"He is a next year horse, his dad [Halling] got good at four and five. If you had told me this horse would do what he has done already I would be blown away."

- from www.racingpost.com

 

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