Mayson prevails on wet surface in July Cup

Jockey Paul Hanagan ecstatic on his first Group One win in Britain but there is disappointment for Godolphin horses.

Mayson, under Paul Hanagan, was dominant at Newmarket yesterday even as all the other horses struggled in poor conditions. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images
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NEWMARKET, England // The international challengers had no answer to the atrocious conditions here as Paul Hanagan and Richard Fahey teamed up to produce the outsider Mayson to win today's July Cup.

The July Course was lashed by rain for over 16 hours ahead of the race, which left in tatters any hope that Godolphin's Sepoy, Ortensia or Krypton Factor could land a blow in the Group One contest.

Hanagan was without a ride in the six-furlong event for his patron Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid, but Fahey was on hand to provide the 31-year-old rider with his first Group One victory in Britain.

"I have won a Group One race in France but this is really special," the rider said. "It is a big weight off my shoulders to win this. I have been champion jockey twice and it is nice to get up there and win top races like this and I really enjoyed it."

Hanagan had Mayson at the head of affairs from as soon as the gates opened and in the testing ground there was not a horse in the 12-runner field that could get a decent foothold in the conditions in order to peg him back. Mayson was five lengths clear of The Cheka at the winning line with Society Rock back in third.

Ortensia was the best of the international contingent in fourth and she settled much better amongst the quieter surrounds of Newmarket after blowing her chance at Royal Ascot due to that meeting's considerable razzamatazz.

Trainer Paul Messara asked permission from the racecourse stewards to send Ortensia down to the start early to avoid a repeat of her Ascot histrionics in the parade ring and her challenge only faded in the final furlong.

"I think it is up there with her best performances. It was a massive effort in extremely trying conditions," the trainer said.

"I considered coming to the races in an ark and with flippers and a mask there was so much rain. It is as wet as you'll ever find a track back in Australia. I was very pleased with her and she kept on going right to the line.

"The weather is frustrating for everyone involved but there is not much we can do about it. We just have to put up with it and it is just part of racing."

Ortensia will stay on in Britain to contest the Nunthorpe Stakes, run over five furlongs at York Racecourse in six weeks time.

"She absolutely hated the ground," said William Buick, her jockey. "She ran great and I think she'll go very close in the Nunthorpe."

After 19mm of rain fell on the July Course the night before Bated Breath was scratched by trainer Roger Charlton on the morning of the race. Krypton Factor, who is now likely to have a break from racing in preparation for the defence of his Dubai Golden Shaheen title next year, quickly followed as did Richard Hannon's Libranno.

Although the July Course has a chalky undersoil which facilitates easy drainage, further rain throughout the day saw the going officially changed to heavy.

Despite Sepoy's proven ability to handle soft ground Godolphin's latest Australian recruit floundered in the mud and finished 11th.

Mahmood Al Zarooni, the colt's trainer, reported that the four year old hated the underfoot conditions and would enter quarantine overnight ahead of a stallion career in Australia.

"He's very famous in Australia and he is a multiple Group One winner," said Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager. "He has a fantastic profile down there and we hope to build on that."

It is a case of back to the drawing board for Godolphin as Sepoy became their latest failure in a race that has been sponsored by Darley, the breeding operation of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, since 1996.

In that time Godolphin have never won the race, although the Sheikh's maroon and white colours were carried to victory in 1987 and 1988 respectively by Adjal and Soviet Star.

The defeat of Sepoy and Ortensia brought the number of Australian horses to have failed in the July Cup to 12.

Royal Ascot's sprints may have proved to be easy meat for Australian horses, but the unique demands of the July Cup continues to provide a seemingly insurmountable challenge for international horses as a whole with raiders from Hong Kong, South Africa and Japan also struggling to make any impact in the past decade.

Elsewhere Julian Smart kept up his fine form with his Purebred Arabian string when taking the Arabian race staged at Newbury racecourse with Jaafer, the 2010 Dubai Kahayla Classic victor.

Smart, who also saddled Areej into third, sent out the one-two in the UK Arabian Derby at Newmarket on Friday.

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