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Running Lion roars to Duke Of Cambridge triumph

Running Lion roars to Duke Of Cambridge triumph
Running Lion roars to Duke Of Cambridge triumph

Running Lion saw off the late surge of stablemate Laurel to secure top honours in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot.

So impressive when winning Newmarket’s Pretty Polly Stakes in the early part of last season, Running Lion had failed to get her head in front since and finished a disappointing last of eight on her most recent outing in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes on Derby day at Epsom.

Oisin Murphy’s mount was a 6-1 shot to get her campaign back on track over Ascot’s round mile and did so in some style, controlling affairs from the front under a well-judged ride and finding plenty for pressure in the straight to score readily by two lengths.

Laurel came from further back to make it a one-two for the father-son training partnership of John and Thady Gosden. Connections will rightly take plenty of heart from her performance, given she had been off the track since failing to fire in the Lockinge at Newbury over a year ago.

John Gosden said: “This filly has been unlucky. She moved a bit soon in the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket, gets boxed in at Epsom. We did decide ‘third time, Oisin, do what you want’. He’s drawn 11, go to the front, control it. It was perfect, because we got in a muddle in the last two races.

“She got heatstroke in the Diane, kicked the gates out at Epsom, was third in the Guineas. She hasn’t always been lucky.”

Murphy added: “Obviously at Epsom she broke well, I didn’t want to lead because she did too much in front at Newmarket and wasted too much energy and we had a hard luck story.

“Today, I had to have a bit of confidence to go out and do my own thing. When she broke well and she pricked her ears, I was happy to lead, and when she saved energy like that, she was always going to be hard to pass.

Royal Ascot 2024 – Day Two – Ascot Racecourse
Running Lion coming home in front (David Davies/PA).

“I got a breather into her all the way through the turn, today I had the horse to do that. The freshness is out of her and she took the prelims.

“It’s great because David Howden bred her. He’s an official sponsor here, along with Qipco, he’s important, vital to British racing and he’s been rewarded this afternoon.”

Owner Howden said: “She gets her head down, she changes her legs and she digs in. Her sire, Roaring Lion, won his races exactly the same way.

“We’re partners with Royal Ascot, I bred her, she’s out of Roaring Lion, who tragically died, it couldn’t be more special.

“For Oisin to do it on Roaring Lion’s filly, Running Lion, is as good as it gets.

“We always knew she had it in her, ever since she won the Pretty Polly and left them standing. We knew it was there. This is why we do it, it’s just fantastic.”

Royal Ascot 2024 – Day Two – Ascot Racecourse
Jockey Oisin Murphy and owner David Howden celebrate (David Davies/PA).

As regards game runner-up Laurel, Barry Mahon, European racing manager for owners Juddmonte, commented: “It’s absolutely marvellous and we’re over the moon.

“Ryan said the winner just shifted a bit in front and cost us a bit of momentum but I think we were booked for second at that stage.

“If she comes out of it well, we will have a look at the Falmouth. This was only her sixth run, for a five-year-old. She does have her issues, but she’s training great and is loving life. She’s having a good blow, so is going to tighten up, so we will aim for the Falmouth and see how we go.

“She’s been knocking on the door and has been placed in a Group One. Ryan knows her and won on her at Kempton and loves her and hopefully she will get it done on the Group One stage someday.”

Trainer William Haggas said of third-placed Doom: “It was an excellent run and she got a bit of a knock on the turn, which knocked her off her stride, but she stayed on well.

“She certainly gets the trip well and handles the ground well and that gives us many more options.”

When asked about a possible step up to Group One level for the Falmouth Stakes, Haggas added: “I’m not sure yet, we will see, but she is in it. I’m delighted with today’s performance.”

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