Lightening Pearl Shines in Cheveley Park Stakes
1 Lightening Pearl 3/1
Sheikh Fahad Al Thani may be the new billionaire on the racing block but his Pearl Bloodstock operation is making rapid strides, so it was no surprise to see Lightening Pearl strike to give the Qatari Royal a first Group One victory in the Jaguar Cars Cheveley Park Stakes.
The Marju filly, a 3/1 shot trained in Ireland by Ger Lyons, for whom it was also a first Group One success, burst to the lead two furlongs out under Johnny Murtagh and held the determined challenge of 33/1 hope Sunday Times to score by half a length.
Sheikh Fahad said: “This filly is all heart. Hopefully, she will progress to next year. It was a team effort and with a team you see what you get. Ger did a magnificent job, as did David (Redvers) who bought her and has been placing her.
“I am delighted, I couldn’t be happier. It is my second year in the game and I have a Group One winner. She is the only one that we bought at Goffs last year and she has turned out to be a Group One filly. We have 45 horses in training now. We try to go for quality, not quantity.”
Asked when he had decided it was worth the Sheikh paying the £15,000 fee to come to Newmarket, Lyons stated: “About two minutes after she won the Round Tower.
“When Johnny got off her at the Curragh, he said, ‘this could be our Group One, Ger’. Johnny rode me my first winner, he rode us our first Royal Ascot winner and he has ridden us this. He has been with us from the start.
“We are well known for trying to get black-type - fillies need it - but it was a no-brainer to supplement her after she won her Group Three at the Curragh. You don’t win Group Three races in Ireland by five lengths.
“I was third in a maiden at Dundalk last night and the dams of the first three were all Group One winners, so Irish racing is strong at the minute. We are taking on Aidan O’Brien everyday of the week but my mother was a great golfer and she always told me that, if I wanted to be a good golfer, I would have to play with good golfers. If you want to be a good trainer, you have to play with the best and I am playing with the best every day.
“You can’t do it without the horse. We knew that we had a great bunch of fillies at home and they have all been winning. After she won her maiden at Roscommon we thought that she could be special because it was a tough enough race.
“I have 0-60 horses at home that are harder to train, she is very very straightforward. She has turned up, she works, you put a saddle on, she goes to the races and she wins. She is tough and she is a pleasure to train.”
As to future targets, Lyons may look to Longchamp and a race that Sheikh Fahad sponsors.
He revealed: “We will have a look - we sponsor the Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac. We will have a chat (with Sheikh Fahad).
“You work hard and you make your own luck. I’ve been working hard and I have a good team around me who have been honest from day one and I always knew that, with the type of horses we buy, that there is a Classic in us and if there is, it’s going to be a Guineas. That’s the type of horses we buy and when this filly came home I said, this year we have a smashing bunch of fillies.”
Lyons commented: “If we are still alive, then the 1000 Guineas would be the plan. It’s great for Sheikh Fahad - we trained his first winner and now his first Group One - and huge congratulations for David Redvers and his team. They are working very, very hard and are very, very straight - Sheikh Fahad is in very safe hands.
“The owner deserves this and the game needs people like this. This guy has been married to David Redvers and I am married to David Redvers - we are sort of sleeping partners.”
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