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Arabian Queen stuns Golden Horn in Juddmonte International Stakes

19 Aug 2015

The British Champions Series of 2015 will do well to produce a bigger shock than the Juddmonte International Stakes at York, which saw 50/1-shot Arabian Queen inflict a first-ever defeat on Derby and Eclipse winner Golden Horn.

Juddmonte International

Golden Horn (left) lost his unbeaten record in the Juddmonte to Arabian Queen (right). Image courtesy of racingfotos.com

Arabian Queen stunned the York crowd as she became the first horse ever to beat Golden Horn, already winner of the Derby and Eclipse.

Following the withdrawal of Gleneagles earlier in the afternoon, Golden Horn was sent off at 4/9 in a field that was headed by The Grey Gatsby, runner-up in the race 12 months ago, and emerging star Time Test.

Dick Doughtywylie, supplemented to act as a pacemaker for the favourite, cut out the early running but was largely ignored by the main field, headed by Arabian Queen. Both Golden Horn and Time Test struggled to settle early on.

The first signs of alarm came over two furlongs out, when Golden Horn was asked for maximum effort by Frankie Dettori when still in arrears to the first two, while both of the other main challengers laboured another few lengths behind. It briefly looked as though the favourite would get past, but Arabian Queen dug deep to hold on by a neck. The Grey Gatsby was more than three lengths further back in third, ahead of Time Test, the pair unable to do more than plug on in rain-softened ground.

Arabian Queen was providing trainer David Elsworth, forever linked with legendary chaser Desert Orchid, a first top-level success on the Flat since 1991. Owner Jeff Smith is more used to seeing his colours carried to big-race victories, being associated with the likes of Persian Punch, Barshiba and Lochsong, though this was his first Group 1 since Lochangel won the 1998 Nunthorpe at this meeting.

After the race, an emotional Smith said: “It’s tough to compare different horses… but don’t forget I’ve had the third and second in the Juddmonte, so I was due the three-two-one! I wasn’t over-confident.”

Floating potential targets for later in the year, he added “I would think she’s bred for a mile and a half. We’re in the [QIPCO British Champions] Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot. That would probably be it for the year, and next year possibly train for an Arc, but not this year.”

Connections of Golden Horn were clearly shaken by the colt’s first defeat, trainer John Gosden unable to offer a firm excuse (“The horse was fine; struck into a bit when he came back, but fine”), while jockey Frankie Dettori suggested that “On this ground he couldn’t use his turn of foot. It’s a great shame but this is racing.”