Winning Story (Saeed bin Suroor/Pat Cosgrave, 7/2) gave owner Godolphin and trainer Saeed bin Suroor a fourth Fast-Track Qualifier victory of the 2016/17 All-Weather Championships season when taking the £20,000 Betway Conditions Stakes (2.00pm) at Newcastle today, Wednesday, December 21.
The two-mile contest on Tapeta was a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 Betway Marathon Championships over the same distance on Polytrack at Lingfield Park on All-Weather Championships Finals Day (Good Friday, April 14, 2017), meaning Winning Story gains an automatic and free place in that contest.
The three-year-old son of New Approach was slightly slow leaving the stalls but quickly recovered to race in second place behind early leader Buthelezi (Brian Ellison/Ben Curtis, 66/1).
He was sent into a clear lead entering the final three furlongs and stayed on strongly to repel the challenge of First Mohican (Alan King/Hollie Doyle, 10/1) comfortably by a length and three-quarters with Steve Rogers (Roger Varian/Jack Mitchell, 5/1) a further two and a half lengths back in third. The 13/8 favourite Star Storm (James Fanshawe/Tom Queally), held up last of the eight runners, looked to be travelling well entering the straight but was unable to mount a serious challenge and finished fourth. The winning time was 3m 31.65s.
Pat Cosgrave said: “It has been great so far this year [the link up with Saeed] but it is easy when you have got the horse.
“Fair play to Saeed and his team this morning because they said to me that Winning Story is a big, galloping horse.
“I don’t think things have quite gone to plan in his last few runs and I followed him the last day when I rode Wrangler in a very muddling race.
“Going back up in trip today on a big, galloping track has really suited him. He didn’t half stretch in the last furlong and went through the line good. He is a good staying horse.
“I think he is a big baby still. He has only had a few runs and is a bit raw. I think there is more to come.
“I would imagine he will go for the Marathon final at Lingfield now. It is a different track and I think the main thing is to make plenty of use of him and his big stride. Newcastle will probably suit him better than Lingfield but you might as well have a crack at it now he is qualified.”
Hollie Doyle said of the runner-up: “First Mohican always puts on a show but has just bumped into another one today. He is very consistent and always runs his race.
“He did everything perfect and it is the best he has jumped from the gates all year. He travelled on the bridle to the two-furlong pole and has finished his race off nicely.
“He is very competitive in these sort of races and hopefully it is just a matter of time before he gets his head in front again because he deserves it.”