Farhh gives Godolphin rare moment of joy in Champion Stakes
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, arrives at the Meydan race track in the Gulf emirate on March 30, 2013
The five-year-old horse moved to the lead early in the straight under Brazilian-born jockey Silvestre De Sousa and fought hard to resist the 2011 winner Cirrus Des Aigles and Epsom Derby champion Ruler Of The World.
Twice a wide-margin runner-up to Frankel last season, Farhh seized the opportunity to restore some gloss to Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin racing stable.
In May one of the sheikh’s trainers, Mahmood Al Zarooni, was banned for eight years after anabolic steroids were found to have been administered to 22 of his horses. Those horses were banned from racing for six months but Farhh was not in Al Zarooni’s care.
Farhh opened his campaign by winning the Lockinge Stakes on May 18, but has been unable to run since after dislodging a flake of bone from his ankle.
It was a fine training performance from Saeed Bin Suroor to bring the horse back to concert pitch after his five-month absence.
“This horse is very tough to train,” Bin Suroor said.
“He gets injured every time he runs but his homework in the build-up was brilliant.
"It is a great result at the end of the season and it gives us a boost for the future. We needed that.”
Farhh’s finest racing moment was also his last. He was immediately retired to the sheikh’s Dalham Hall Stud, in Newmarket, to take up stallion duties.
This was his fifth victory from 10 career starts, during which he never finished out of the first three.
Victory in the showcase race on British racing’s Champions Day took Farhh’s prize-money earnings beyond £1 million.
Testing ground made the 2,000-metre Champion Stakes a demanding assignment but Farhh never flinched in a driving finish.
He held on by a scant neck from the late-closing French challenger, Cirrus De Aigles, who also finished second in the race to the all-conquering Frankel last year.
Cirrus des Aigles’ trainer, Corine Barande-Barbe, was philosophical in defeat for her seven-year-old gelding who has won 18 of his 52 races and over 5million euros ($6.8million) in prizemoney.
“My horse was drawn on the inside and had to race with horses around him from the start,” she said.
“Christophe (Soumillon, who rode the horse) couldn’t get a clear run when he wanted and you cannot catch a horse like Farhh if he makes his run before you. But I am pleased the horse ran well. He is not finished, as some people thought in the summer.”
Aidan O’Brien, who trained the third horse home, Ruler Of The World, was delighted with his effort.
“Hopefully we can look forward to seeing him race again next year,” O’Brien said.
Farhh’s triumph ensured Godolphin will end the season as leading owner in Britain for the ninth time in 17 years even though the stable’s Dawn Approach failed to justify his billing as favourite for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes earlier on the card.
Dawn Approach got bogged down in the heavy ground en route to finishing fourth behind Olympic Glory, who ran away with the 1,600-metre (mile)contest by four lengths.
The winner is trained by veteran Richard Hannon, who effectively clinched the accolade of champion trainer in Britain for the third time in four years – and his fourth in all.
“It’s wonderful to have these good horses,” said Hannon. “It has been a great year for us and I am certainly old enough to appreciate it.”
Olympic Glory is owned by Sheikh Joan Bin Hamad Al Thani, brother of the Emir of Qatar, and crowned a magnificent season for the man who paid 5 million guineas ($8.38million) for a yearling filly -- a world record for that category of horse -- at public auction in Newmarket last week.
In addition to Olympic Glory, Sheikh Joaan owns unbeaten Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine Treve and Toronado, who has official recognition as the best three-year-old racehorse in Europe this season.