Mashhoor floors returning Al Riffa in International Stakes

Mashhoor was the beneficiary of a fine ride from Ben Coen as he put his race-fitness to good use and made all to claim the Paddy Power International Stakes.

Johnny Murtagh’s five-year-old arrived at the Curragh in fine form having followed up a victory in a Cork handicap by securing Listed honours in the 12-furlong Orby Stakes at the Kildare track most recently.

However, he faced a stiff task dropping back to 10 furlongs for this Group Three assignment, with Joseph O’Brien’s Group One-winning Al Riffa the 5-6 market leader on his return from a 293-day absence and Aidan O’Brien’s Alfred Munnings another well-fancied runner following a layoff.

Coen was keen to make Mashhoor’s fitness and proven stamina count, and immediately sent his mount to the front as Al Riffa tracked the pace in second.

And that was how the pair remained for the rest of the contest, as Coen kept upping the pace and asking questions of those in behind.

Passing the two-furlong pole Dylan Browne McMonagle was pushing away on Al Riffa, while all the time Mashhoor just kept extending his advantage over the chasing pack and when Coen firmly put the foot down in the closing stages, the willing son of Kingman drew further clear to finish just shy of five lengths clear at the line.

Former Gaelic footballer Tommy Dowd is part of the syndicate that own the winner, and Murtagh said: “It’s really very special when Tommy Dowd comes to you in the parade ring and says ‘I’m more nervous now than I was on all-Ireland day’. I said ‘ah come on, sure we don’t have anything to do any more – it’s up to Ben now’.

“In fairness to the horse you have to say he has improved immensely. He picked up a little injury last year and I suppose it stood to him this year.

“He’s been very straightforward this year and the races have come for him at the right time.

“There was no pace today and I said to Ben to let him roll along. He’s a leader, he leads the string at home.

“I knew when they turned in that they weren’t going to get to him because he wouldn’t stop. He won over a mile and a half last time. It was a great ride.

“It’s great for a syndicate to rock up on Derby weekend and be competitive in a very competitive Group Three.

“You can see the enjoyment it gives people, racing has that.”

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