Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards Challenge Stakes
Group 2, Newmarket 15:00
£125,000 guaranteed,
3yo plus,
7f, Class 1   
Friday 13th October 2023


1 Matilda Picotte 2/1
2 Lord Massusus 12/1
3 Audience 9/4
4 ran NR: Pogo, Shouldvebeenaring
Distances: 2¾l, 2¾l, ½l Time: 1m 25.28s (slow by 2.38s)

Matilda Picotte blasted out of the stalls and left them all in behind with a striking performance.

Kieran Cotter's enthusiastic three-year-old had previously clinched a Listed race victory at the same venue late in the previous season. She also secured a commendable third-place finish in the 1000 Guineas earlier in the year, behind formidable rivals Mawj and Tahiyra.

Returning to Newmarket after a convincing all-the-way triumph in the Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster, Matilda Picotte's racing style remained unchanged in this Group Two event. Jockey Oisin Murphy skillfully allowed his eager companion to take the lead, with rivals Audience and Chindit struggling to bridge the gap.

As they approached the dip, Murphy permitted Matilda Picotte to fill her lungs and gather momentum. Although the competition narrowed the distance in the later stages of the race, she had ample energy left, finishing strongly and crossing the finish line two and three-quarter lengths ahead of the fellow Irish contender, Lord Massusus.


Cotter said: “I was a bit concerned she might falter in the last 100 yards, but she’s so much pace and she’s so genuine and they have to work hard to get to her.

“Her last couple of runs have been outstanding. I’ve been saying to the lads (owners) for a while that you wouldn’t see the best of her until the backend of her three-year-old season and she’s just got better and better.

“Oisin said today he was going too fast and she was aggressive early, but you can’t fight her, he just lets her roll and she’s incredibly tough.

“It’s fantastic as we wouldn’t have 20 horses, but we’re showing that if we have the right one, we can turn up on the day and take the money. It’s fantastic to be able to come to a racecourse like this and compete – we’re privileged to have her.

“I don’t know if she’ll run again this year. There is the Breeders’ Cup, who knows?

“There’ll be a lot of races for her next year, if we have her. I think she has an entry in the sales, but the lads were saying if she won well today they might keep her.

“She’s a horse of a lifetime and it’s been a fairy tale for all the lads.”


Challenge Stakes (Group 2)
£125,000 guaranteed, 3yo plus, 7f, Class 1
4 ran
Going: Soft

1 (6)     Matilda Picotte 3 9-0 Kieran P Cotter Oisin Murphy 2/1
2 (4)
Lord Massusus 3 9-3 Joseph G Murphy Gary Carroll 12/1
3 (1) Audience 4 9-5 John & Thady Gosden Robert Havlin 9/4
4 (5)
½ Chindit 5 9-5 Richard Hannon Ryan Moore 7/4F
NR 3 (2) Pogo 7 9-5 Charles Hills NON RUNNER
NR 5 (3) Shouldvebeenaring 3 9-3 Richard Hannon NON RUNNER