Seahenge battles to Champagne win
SEAHENGE booked his ticket to next month’s Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket with a hard-fought victory in the Howcroft Industrial Supplies Champagne Stakes at Doncaster.
Aidan O’Brien’s apparent second string caused a minor surprise as he wore down the game Hey Gaman close home.
While Ryan Moore was aboard the shorter-priced Mendelssohn, it was Donnacha O’Brien who landed the Group Two honours on Seahenge (8-1), who had only finished fifth behind Expert Eye in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.
Dream Today and Hey Gaman were the two leaders until the race got serious in the final quarter mile.
Mendelssohn was one of the first beaten while Seahenge came with a strong challenge to pip the gritty Hey Gaman by a neck. Mythical Magic was third.
Seahenge was given a quote of 25-1 for the Qipco 2000 Guineas with Paddy Power.
O’Brien senior, enjoying a second Champagne triumph after Westphalia in 2008, said: “Donnacha won his maiden on him at Naas and he was very green. He’s a big horse and then he went to Goodwood. Ryan rode him and loved him, but said he was very green and babyish. Obviously he learnt a lot there.
“Donnacha gave him a lovely ride today and he came home well. He won very well and you’d be delighted with him.
“Donnacha went out to teach him a lot and educate him like we do with all our two-year-olds.
“They didn’t go very fast so he did well to win.”
He added: “With him we came here thinking he could be one for the Dewhurst and that looks the obvious next step. He’ll be suited by better ground.”
The winning rider said: “He was very aggressive going down to the start, so I wanted to take my time with him.
“They went a nice gallop so got a lead and he stayed on well.
“When they quickened from the three I just got caught a bit, but I let him find his feet and when he picked up two out I thought he’d get there.
“My lad will be suited with stepping up in trip again and I think he’s a nice horse.
“He’s still a bit babyish but has plenty of ability.”