Mastery Springs Surprise in 2009 Ladbrokes St Leger
1 (5) Mastery 14/1
Godolphin’s second string Mastery sprang a 14/1 surprise to land the 233rd running of the Ladbrokes St Leger when beating his more fancied stablemate Kite Wood, who was sent off 9/4 favourite.
It was a first British Classic success for Godolphin after Mastery, winner of the Italian Derby earlier this season, passed Kite Wood in the home straight to score by three quarters of a length.
“Mastery was not completely overlooked but his form left a bit to find,” said Godolphin’s racing manager Simon Crisford. “We said all along that he had each-way claims but I’m a little surprised that he managed to beat Kite Wood, who should be a better horse next year.
“Both horses ran their hearts out but Mastery was just a bit tougher over this distance and on this ground.
“I didn’t really get a chance to talk to Frankie in the heat of the moment, I think he was a little peeved and thought it better to wait until later to chat to him!
“We’ll see how they both are before talking about any plans - they might run again but both will stay in training next year
“We’ve won 40 Group Ones worldwide since our last British Classic success so we’ve hardly been devoid of big-race wins and the stable has been performing all over the globe at the highest level.
“But we do love the British Classics so we’re absolutely delighted to win and we’ve not been too far away in them since Rule Of Law.”
Jockey Ted Durcan, whose only other British classic success came on Light Shift in the 2007 Investec Oaks, added: “Sheikh Mohammed and his son Sheikh Rashid have been a major help to me so to win for them is great.
“Saeed (bin Suroor) and Simon (Crisford) had been on to me in the last week and a half saying that this was a horse that would really stay properly.
“I was anxious not to get up there too early but the race went very smoothly and everything worked out.
“It is hard for Frankie, we’ve all been in the same situation, and Godolphin is about the whole operation.
“He may not be the most handsome horse to look at but he’s really hardy and is going to be a lovely stayer next season. His sire Sulamani improved with age and I’m sure he will as well.”
WINNING LADBROKES ST LEGER QUOTES - JOCKEY, OWNER AND TRAINER
Sheikh Mohammed, the Godolphin founder, declared: “I think one liked the ground and that was Mastery.
“Everybody in Godolphin works as a team.
“These are horses, not machines and they are flesh and blood. Some times there is sickness in the stable or something. The team is the same throughout the year - I am very proud of my team.”
Saeed bin Suroor, the Godolphin trainer, commented: “It was not a surprise. I had some confidence about Mastery running a big race.
“Last time when he ran at York, he ran a brilliant race (when second in the Ladbrokes Great Voltigeur Stakes). This is the sort of ground he likes - fast going - and he ran a huge race. He was nice and relaxed in the race which I was happy to see.
“Kite Wood ran a big race but I don’t think he handled the ground as well.”
The winning Ladbrokes St Leger jockey Ted Durcan said: "The whole operation has looked after and been a great help to me over the years.
“Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Rashid and everyone has been a huge help to me. To able to win a St Leger for them is just great.
“It’s for the whole operation, for everyone involved
"We had the run of the race and it was between Frankie and I.
“I let him have first run and we sluiced up behind him, travelling very well, and I always knew that I had him at the one-furlong marker. He went half a length up and was idling in front.
“Mastery loves the ground and stays really well - everything went smoothly - just great.”
O’BRIEN DRAWS A RARE BLANK
It’s not often that Aidan O’Brien goes through a season of British racing without winning a Classic, but the Irish trainer has this season. In the Ladbrokes St Leger, O’Brien had one last shout, but Changingoftheguard, having sat in fourth or fifth place through the race, came up to the shoulders of the leader, Kite Wood, around two furlongs out on the far rail, and found almost nothing.
“He travelled well, but when they quickened up in the straight he wasn’t able to go with him,” said the jockey Johnny Murtagh.
O’Brien, who watched the race in the weighing room, was non-committal afterwards. “I don’t really know at this stage, we’ll have to have a look at it and see,” he said.
The trainer had been happy with the way the horse had settled in the race. “He was in the right place,” he said, adding that the didn’t think it was a problem of space on the far rail.
Peter Chapple-Hyam, trainer of Monitor Closely, who finished third, accepted that his horse didn’t stay the distance;
“He came there cantering to win, but he [jockey Jimmy Fortune] said he just didn’t stay,” he said ruefully.
“That’s why I dropped him in because I knew they’d take us on if we were up in the front. There was a chance that we couldn’t stay and if I’d have had him up there he would have finished further back.
“We were going to sit last, and when I told Jimmy, he nearly fell off the chair. But I said hopefully you can come late and just sneak home. We were going to sit last, but in the race every else wanted to sit last!
“It was a great run, but we know his future - a mile and a half. We will see how he is before we decide anything. He’s had a hard season, but he always bounces back,” said Chapple-Hyam
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