1 Times Up 5/1
2 High Jinx 11/2
3 Hurricane Higgins 25/1 10 ran Distances: nk, 1¼l, ½l
TIME 3m 58.11s (slow by 6.11s)
Trainer John Dunlop, who announced yesterday that he will be retiring at the end of the season, saddled the winner of today’s Group Two Stobart Doncaster Cup - who was somewhat ironically named Times Up.
The consistent six-year-old, who won the Group Two Lonsdale Cup at York last time, was given a perfect ride by Eddie Ahern. Travelling well throughout, Times Up hit the front in the final furlong and kept on well to hold off the late challenge of High Jinx by a neck.
John Dunlop said of the 5/1 winner: “He was always travelling very, very well up the straight. I was a bit worried because there was no pace - they looked to go no gallop at all for the first mile and a half and that’s always a bit of a concern.
“He got very relaxed and enjoyed the track - he loves flat, left-handed courses - and he is in very good form.
“I think that we shall run him again but it is not easy to find out where. We ran in the two-mile race on Champions Day last year but he doesn’t really like going right-handed on a tight track. Having said that, he only just got beaten a head at Longchamp last year, so we might go for the Prix du Cadran.
“We have won a few Doncaster Cups in the past and we have won the November Handicap here quite a few times, including with Times Up. Doncaster has been lucky for me.
“Times Up is a wonderful horse who has done us proud.
“The horse isn’t getting any younger but still has some mileage in him. He certainly has more mileage in him than me!”
Speaking about his decision to retire Dunlop, who has sent out three winners of the Ladbrokes St Leger, continued: “I had been thinking about it for a while. With the current size of the string, it has become unsustainable.
“We had a bad first half to the season, but all stables go through that and it didn’t affect my decision. I first thought about retiring last year and it is within the last couple of months that I made the decision to stop.
“I think it was pointed out by one of the scribes that it was somewhat ironic I was running a horse called Times Up today! Anyway, you won’t be seeing the back of me for a couple of months yet. In my time in racing I’ve seen plenty of nightmares so it’s nice to have a fairytale winner today.
“I’ve had lots of good days over the years. You always remember them. My sons Ed and Harry are moving forward with their training careers and I will bask in their glory.”
Eddie Ahern added: “I was saying before the race that it would be fantastic if Mr Dunlop went out on a big one. They didn’t go as fast as I thought they would and I was probably a little closer to the pace than normal but he travelled so well.
“It’s a good buzz when you can pick your spots going to the two-pole - it’s a good feeling and you know that you are going to win.
“It’s a pity I didn’t come to England 10 years earlier when Mr Dunlop had so many good horses!
“He has always stood by me and never jocked me off a horse. The best horses I have ridden for him are Palavacini and Elusive Pimpernel.”
As well as his prize for winning the Stobart Doncaster Cup, Dunlop was also presented with a magnum of champagne by Doncaster Racecourse to mark his impending retirement.
Stobart Doncaster Cup (British Champions Series) (Group 2) £100,000 added, 3yo plus, 2m 2f, Class 1 10 ran
5 - 1
J R Fanshawe
11 - 2
25 - 1
1 1/4 length
Sir Mark Prescott
11 - 1
J M Oxx
J P Murtagh
11 - 4
M P Tregoning
12 - 1
S bin Suroor
S De Sousa
10 - 3
J H M Gosden
9 - 1
Aaim To Prosper
B J Meehan
80 - 1
Never Can Tell
J A Osborne
J P Spencer
50 - 1
HIGH PRAISE FOR DUNLOP AND JINX
James Fanshawe, trainer of Stobart Doncaster Cup runner-up High Jinx, paid tribute to his soon-to-retire colleague John Dunlop, responsible for the neck winner Times Up.
“It is great for John to have such a good note the day after he announced he was retiring,” said Fanshawe. “His record speaks for itself, all those Classic and big-race winners over such a long period of time.
“I suppose it was good that he won the race and I wish him all the best. But mind you, if I’d been the one retiring, he would have tried his hardest to win all the same. And if I’d beaten him, he wouldn’t have minded.”
Fanshawe was delighted with the effort of Graham Lee-ridden High Jinx, who was two lengths closer to Times Up than when the pair finished first and second in the Lonsdale Cup at York last month.
“I was really pleased with the way he switched off when there was a lack of pace early again,” he said of the four-year-old. “He had learned from York and is really starting to get it all together, really improving. He’s going to be an exciting prospect for next year in these big staying races.”
High Jinx, by High Chaparral, may be seen again this year. “We’ll see how he is,” added Fanshawe, “But he’s had a fairly light campaign and either the Prix du Cadran or the Long Distance Cup at Ascot will be possibilities.”