Mohaather demonstrated a devastating turn of foot to win a stellar renewal of the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
Trained by Marcus Tregoning and ridden by Jim Crowley, the four-year-old endured a luckless run in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot – but righted the record as an impressive victor in a top-class running of the Group One showpiece.
Queen Anne winner Circus Maximus set out to make all under Ryan Moore and the field was closely bunched with two furlongs to run as the leader tried to press on, with San Donato the first to make his bid and briefly looking as though he could be set to produce a shock.
However, the previously-unbeaten Siskin then unleashed his challenge down the outside, with Crowley producing his mount even wider still and once he did Mohaather (3-1) fairly flew in the final furlong to collar Circus Maximus and score a first top-level victory.
Irish 2,000 Guineas hero Siskin dropped back to third, with Kameko – winner of the Newmarket Guineas – fourth having been tight for room in the closing stages.
Crowley said: “The plan was to ride him a bit more forward today, we were aware it was going to be tactical. When I jumped out, I would have liked to have sat third or fourth, one off the rail and kept my options open.
“The pace was very slow and Frankie (Dettori, on Wichita) arrived on my outside because we were going so slow and we were in a bit of a pocket and I knew then we were going to need a bit of luck in running.
“We had to switch around and he just showed the most electric turn of foot. To give weight away to younger horses and pick them up the way he did was special really.
“I knew I probably wasn’t going to get a run as they’d all rolled back in towards the rail. I could see Siskin on the outside and I knew he was going to play his cards late, so my option then was to try to get on the back of him and follow him through.”
Looking back on Mohaather’s defeat in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, Crowley said: “I was gutted, it was eating away at me for a few days afterwards. When he came out again at Ascot (in the Summer Mile), I was so happy to see the way he won that day because I’d ridden him work a few times early on and he’d given me a feel like not many horses have done.
“He’s so athletic, he’s a beautiful-looking horse, he’s got class and we’ve always thought he’s got so much pace that we even contemplated early on going sprinting with him.
“He’d win over six, but today shows it was the right decision to go down the mile route and that’s the sign of a really good horse – he’s got so much pace.”
Tregoning – winning his first Group One since Sir Percy landed the Derby in 2006 – said: “It was a bit of a nightmare to watch, but I knew if he got out he would have the speed to get there – he’s got a very good turn of foot, as you can see.
“I know it’s a well-used expression, but he does find heaps for pressure and I knew coming into this race he was really firing on all cylinders.
“He’s done nothing but thrive. He’s not the biggest, but he’s got a lot of quality about him – he’s a beautiful horse and we’re so lucky to have him.
“I think the Summer Mile was a solid Group Two and he could have won it by six lengths – he could have won today much easier, if he’d had the chance to, but that’s tactics.
“If he hadn’t have won today I’d have been pretty sore as I thought he’d win. All the indications were that we had him right – he’s quite an exuberant work horse. It was a tactical race, but luckily he came out on top.
“Showcasing is a very good stallion and this is important for him, as a top-class stallion does need to get a good miler.
“I love Goodwood. I always say if you have an owner, bring them to Goodwood as you will sell racing here – it’s the most magnificent view across the Downs. I’m always proud to come here and do well.
“I always think all my owners want to win the Sussex Stakes and it’s lovely for them all as they’ve all come and seen this horse.”
Considering future plans, Tregoning added: “That (Breeders’ Cup Mile) is always possible. We know you need tactical speed around those tight tracks (in America) and this horse has so much pace.
“I love watching him at home – he could do anything and he’s just a pleasure to be around.
“There’s that lovely mile race on Champions Day (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot) and he’s in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, although that might come a bit quick for him, we’ll just have to see.
“It will be entirely up to Sheikh Hamdan and his team. I will help with the plan, but I’m sure Sheikh Hamdan will have his say.”
Connections of Circus Maximus were delighted with the performance of the Aidan O’Brien-trained runner-up.
Paul Smith, representing Coolmore, said: “He ran his heart out and you get that every time with him. He is a solid Group One horse and he has run a great race. Ryan was very happy with him and we are delighted.
“It was goose bumps just looking at them around the parade ring as there were some quality individuals there. We will get him back and see how is and see what the lads want to do with him – he is going to be a competitive horse wherever he goes.”
Ger Lyons’ Siskin may have lost his unbeaten record, but Teddy Grimthorpe – racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah – was far from downbeat.
He said: “He has run a really good race and we have no complaints.
“He has come out of it as the best three-year-old miler, so that is a positive. He has had every chance and has run really well.
“It was a good race. We are going to discuss a whole lot of options for him. We will see how is and see what Prince Khalid wants to do.
“There are a number of options for him which are pretty obvious. We’ve got a bit of time to think about it and see how he comes out of the race. It is only his second race of the year and there is still more to come from him.”
Echoing those sentiments, Lyons said: “I am delighted with the run from Siskin. He is the best three-year-old. He came to win his race and he was outstayed by two older horses. There were no excuses and that is all I asked for coming into the race, that we would have no excuses.
“Colin (Keane) said the ground blunted his speed a bit. One thing we have learned is he is a proper miler and the faster the ground the better. There will be no decisions made, but he probably has Breeders’ Cup written all over him.”