In the 10flg Emirates Airline Champion Stakes, we missed the presence of ‘Horse of the Year’ Sea The Stars, but his absence gave the chance of a first Group 1 win to the admirable 4yr old Twice Over, 2nd in this race – and a few others! - last year. He’s trained in Newmarket by the universally revered Henry Cecil, who has rebuilt his career over this last three seasons following well-documented personal problems (including marital breakdowns and a fight with the bottle) whilst battling with cancer. His many friends and admirers raised the roof as his horse returned to the Winners’ Enclosure, and sent a shiver down the spine of his jockey.
The tumult was followed by several tense minutes as Richard Hills, pilot of 2nd-placed Mawatheeq owned by Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum, lodged an objection for brief interference – which was actually booed! This was quickly thrown out, to the visible relief of Lord Teddy Grimthorpe (Racing Manager to absent but owner Prince Khalid Abdullah who’s been so loyal to Cecil), and Henry was duly lauded in grand style, with some very emotional speeches and much cheering. One feared R Hills might have needed a police escort from the course, had he been awarded the race! Cecil’s new stable jockey Tom Queally, recording his biggest win to date (and one of four first-time G1 wins in 2009), was fulsome in his praise of Cecil’s feat in peaking the formerly unlucky Twice Over to take this race. One could say unfancied too – but Frankie Dettori, a guest on Ch4’s The Morning Line, had tipped the horse to win, so he can truthfully claim “well done me!”. Dual Irish G1 winner and hot favourite Fame And Glory disappointed back in 6th, showing all the signs of a season spent chasing Sea The Stars in the UK and France.