Ascot, England // Saeed bin Suroor produced one of the biggest results of his career when Farhh held off Cirrus Des Aigles and Ruler of the World in an epic showdown for the Champion Stakes on Saturday.
The injury-prone horse had not run for 154 days, since his maiden Group 1 success in the Lockinge Stakes, but back on the racecourse under Silvestre De Sousa after a frustrating hiatus, Farhh blew past the French raider and English Derby winner to win by a neck.
It was Godolphin’s first win in the 10-furlong contest and brought up the Dubai-based organisation’s ninth owners’ title in Britain in the past 17 years.
Farhh’s abilities were showcased for much of last season, but he found Frankel, Nathaniel and Moonlight Cloud all too good at the highest level.
However, his fragility is such that Saturday’s race was just the five year old’s 10th start. But in those races, the mercurial horse has never finished out of the top three and has won five times.
It was hardly surprising that Bin Suroor was animated in the winners’ enclosure afterwards.
“This horse is tough to train, really,” he said. “When he was a two year old, he had an injury problem, and after every run he had an injury.
“You have to look after him really well and you have to make up a different programme for him just to keep him happy.”
John Ferguson, the bloodstock adviser to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, labelled Bin Suroor’s effort as his “finest hour.”
Bin Suroor need not worry anymore about creative training schedules, though. Farhh is to be retired alongside Godolphin’s Dawn Approach, who ran a lacklustre race behind Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad’s Olympic Glory in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
“The horse has done everything asked of him and has been a great horse for Godolphin to enjoy,” said Simon Crisford, the stable’s racing manager. “It’s not like he’s a three year old and now is the right time to send him to stud.”
Mickael Barzalona cut out the running on Hunter’s Light, the former Dubai World Cup favourite, and De Sousa was content to sit in behind.
Cirrus Des Aigles was placed in mid-pack by Christophe Soumillon and was boxed in by Ryan Moore on Ruler Of The World. De Sousa went for home first as the field straightened up off the bend, and Soumillon and Moore had to wait a beat to straighten from their wide position to follow in pursuit.
It was a crucial advantage, and although Farhh always looked the winner, Soumillon felt hopeful that Cirrus Des Aigles might reclaim his 2011 crown until he was in sight of the line.
“Cirrus was very courageous,” the Belgian rider said. “I thought we would win in the straight, but Farhh pulled it out. In the final 100 yards, he looked to be winning quite easily.”
Farhh is set to go to Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket, and Dawn Approach is in line to go to Ireland to stand at Kildangan Stud.
Another who could follow that duo into retirement is Igugu, after Mike De Kock’s former South African champion mare finished last in the British Champions Fillies’ & Mares’ Stakes, won by outsider Seal Of Approval.
Igugu struggled throughout her campaign in Dubai this year due to hormonal problems but appeared to be over those issues when putting up a strong effort at Newmarket three weeks ago.
She was in contention until two furlongs of the 12-furlong contest remained but gave up and faded.
“I think I might have to call it a day with her,” De Kock said. “We’ve tried, but it could be time to go to paddock. It pays to be kind.”