Lightning strikes in Celebration Mile

 Aug 28 2016

The five-year-old had not struck gold since June 2015, but he showed he could be a force to be reckoned with this autumn as he came from last to first to secure an authoritative victory in the Group Two event.

Now with David Simcock after the retirement from training of Olly Stevens, the 4-1 chance had posted an excellent effort on his debut for his new handler when finishing third in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot.

However, he had failed to reproduce quite that kind of form in two subsequent starts but back on quicker ground, he demonstrated the electric turn of foot he has always produced at home.

Arod, who like the winner is owned by Qatar Racing, made it a decent pace from the start and was still in front two furlongs out, only to be grabbed by Zonderland.

But Oisin Murphy made a race-winning move approaching the distance when instead of trying to go inside, he changed his mind and pulled Lightning Spear out to pick up and reel in Zonderland.

The combination won going away by a length and three-quarters, with Arod keeping on for third and Toormore fourth.

The favourite Thikriyaat was the first to be ridden along and came home last of the five starters.

Ascot's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, sponsored by Qipco, is firmly in Lightning Spear's sights, and Simcock said: "We've always known what a good horse he is but things haven't gone right for him.

"I feel sorry for the horse because he has so much talent, but he's only really been let go twice. He didn't show up in the Sussex and at Deauville, it was a messy race run on tacky ground.

"I will aim him towards Ascot now and it will be the QEII. I've always said he's the best miler we've had and I believe that next year he will show his true potential."

Coral reacted by shortening the winner into 14-1 from 25-1 for the Ascot Group One on October 15.

The stewards subsequently examined the effort of Thikriyaat, with Paul Hanagan saying his mount was never travelling. The veterinary officer reported that a post-race examination of the gelding revealed him to be suffering from a fibrillating heart.

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