Deacon Blues On Song in Champions Sprint
1 Deacon Blues 5/2F
The James Fanshawe-trained Deacon Blues, winner of the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot in June, continued his progression to see off a field of top class performers to win the QIPCO British Champions Sprint by a length and a half.
"He's done everything he's been asked this year and has just kept on improving," said Fanshawe.
"I always felt that he was a nice horse as a three-year-old but he kept on getting beat - I think that he ran 10 times and won once. This time, he has run six times and won five.
"I think the improvement is for a combination of reasons. He never moved very well as a three-year-old last year but we gelded him and his action improved a lot. I imagine he'll go on his holidays now and we'll look forward to next season with him.
"He is the most amazing horse and he has improved and improved since the Wokingham Stakes - he is a wonderful horse to have in the yard.
"I'm thrilled to bits and also very relieved as I always get worked up before these races so it's great to get a result. I thought Society Rock would run well but he got drawn out of it a bit. We've had a couple of stars this year and we've had a good season.
Frankie Dettori rode Deacon Blues to his previous win at Newbury but he was replaced today by his great friend and the horse's regular pilot, Johnny Murtagh.
Fanshawe added: "I am not sure whether Johnny's digs at Newmarket will still be available but I felt I wanted to keep the jockey booking fair as Johnny was the first to ride the horse. He won the Wokingham on him and otherwise we would have been in a terrible muddle - Johnny has also won four Group Ones for me on Soviet Song.
"It's a fantastic day and we are really grateful to QIPCO for providing all of the wonderful prizemoney. It's a good crowd, lovely ground and a lovely day.
"It's a real credit to the owners (Jan and Peter Hopper) because they bred the horse with Mrs Grundy and they also bred Frizzante, who won the July Cup. It's a pretty amazing achievement for a small stud."
WIZZ KID WILL RACE ON WITH DREAM AHEAD IN MIND
Smart French three-year-old filly Wizz Kid could not match Deacon Blues in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint, but she took second against top-quality rivals.
Dr John O'Connor, the stud's manager, said of Wizz Kid, who was ridden by Gerald Mosse: "It is highly likely she will stay in training. She's improving and was a little unlucky in the two Group 1s she contested before today. She was hampered in the Nunthorpe Stakes and in the Prix de l'Abbaye, and we wanted to see if she would get six furlongs and handle Ascot.
"Gerald was very happy with her and said next year she will be a little more mature and harder. She will only have to carry one pound more as a four-year-old so won't have to improve a lot and she's been quite lightly raced. Robert had it in his mind that she will race at four and it's likely she will."
Ballylinch Stud will have a new stallion for next year, the dual Group 1-winning sprinter Dream Ahead, and he may well become a mate for Wizz Kid one day. O'Connor said: "She is a home bred - we raced her dam, who is by Ballylinch stallion Soviet Star, and her sire is Whipper, who is owned by the stud but stands in France. You can imagine who we have in mind to cover her one day ..."
Richard Hannon was no less pleased with Libranno, who finished third, and said: "I thought that was a hell of a run for a three-year-old. He looked very dangerous at the furlong pole and I thought he was going to win until I saw Murtagh coming through on the winner. I'm delighted and he's run out of his skin. I hope he stays in training next year - he's won me a lot of prize-money this season."
Kieren Fallon, who rode Libranno, said: "By two out I thought I was going to win but Johnny found more. It was a good race."
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