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Sheikhzayedroad grabs Cup glory by whisker

9 Sep 2016

David Simcock-trained stayer gains reward in thrilling Doncaster Cup

Harley is jubilant as Sheikhzayedroad snatches the spoils at Doncaster. Picture: Racingfotos.com

The two and a quarter mile Doncaster Cup is the second longest race in the Qipco British Champions Series but the 250th renewal on Friday could not have provided a closer finish.

Sheikhzayedroad and Quest For More flashed past the post as one at the end of a pulsating contest, with the former, much loved but “as slow as a hearse” at home according to his trainer, prevailing by a nose.

The David Simcock-trained globetrotter got to the front right on the line right on the line, with the Sir Mark Prescott-trained St Michel staying on well to finish a further two and a quarter-lengths back in third.

“He has been a consistent horse all his life. He is a model of consistency, is very tough and is just an old warrior,” a jubilant Simcock said.

“We absolutely love him to bits at home. He only runs about six times a year now and he might run once more this year possibly in Canada or at Ascot [Champions Day on October 15].

“He will then do exactly the same next year where he’ll run in Dubai then go to Royal Ascot and we’ll follow the same routine. He enjoys it.

“We keep him fresh, he takes no training and is as slow as a hearse at home. He is very lovable and really special to the yard.

“These stayers are great. Everybody loves watching them, they are fun to watch and fun to train.

“Credit to the second horse [Quest For More] as well. They are great old warriors and have a bit of longevity about them.”

The Newmarket trainer added: “This horse has grown up. He still has his little quirks. He hangs one and then the other way but this is a good day.”

Mohammad Jaber, owner of the gelding, named the horse after a famous highway in Dubai and he said: “Well done to David and his team for keeping him fresh. He won well in Dubai in March and then he had a nice break before Royal Ascot when he finished third [beaten five and a quarter-lengths] and again after Goodwood [third, beaten one and a half-lengths] so today he was a fresh horse.”

Harley added:”Sheikhzayedroad has run some really good races this year. He got a nice even gallop there and fair play to the old boy. He has been around and is still producing the goods.”

Quest For More, winner of the Lonsdale Cup on his previous start, had looked the winner until the dying strides and Roger Charlton, his trainer, said: “I am thrilled, he has run a fantastic race. If there was an excuse it is that there is a headwind, we were in it all the way, but I am proud of him.

“He has run a really good race but it is tough. George (Baker) gave him the perfect ride I thought, the right fractions and everything but to be done in the last two strides is always tough.

“It could be Ascot next (Champions Long Distance Cup) if the ground is suitable. If not, he could go for the Dubai Gold Cup (March 2017).”

Sir Mark Prescott, trainer of the third home, St Michel, said: “He ran as well as I hoped. I will probably run him in the Cesarewitch if he gets in. He would have got in if he had won today but he might not now.

“Mr Pearce, who owns him is 97 so the more good days he can have the better.”