Quickthorn makes all for remarkable Goodwood Cup success

Tom Marquand executed a perfect front-running ride aboard Quickthorn to win the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup.

Trained by Hughie Morrison, Marquand had adopted very similar tactics last season in the Lonsdale Cup at York when beating the reopposing Coltrane by 14 lengths.

Quickthorn had failed to quite match that level of performance since, but did return to winning ways last time out back at York in a Listed race and the form was subsequently franked when the second, Israr, won a Group Two next time out.

Marquand stole a few lengths early and then once again on the brow of the hill, when the field might expect to start making ground, but the jockey ensured there was no let up in the pace.

At one stage he was around 20 lengths clear but Oisin Murphy on Coltrane, who was leading the pack, seemed content in where he was with half a mile to go.

The riders of Eldar Eldarov, Giavellotto, Emily Dickinson and Gold Cup winner Courage Mon Ami all suddenly realised Quickthorn was not stopping, but the victor had a decisive lead.

Quickthorn won by six lengths from Emily Dickinson, who prevailed in a photo for second with Coltrane, with Eldar Eldarov a further short head back in fourth.

“Lady Blyth (owner) has bred a Grade One (over jumps) and a Group One winner, not many people have done that,” said Morrison.

“I was quite excited going up the hill, we saw what he did last year. I’ve always felt he needed a bit of juice in the ground, his autumn flops in the last couple of years are when he’s just gone over the top.

“As you can see, he just puts so much into it that he probably deserves to go over the top some time between now and September.”

When asked if he fancied a crack over hurdles and taking on Constitution Hill Morrison quipped: “I don’t think that would be fair on Constitution Hill!

“He’s just a galloper, he’s fantastic to train. Watching him every morning he just goes like he did to post, like a three-mile chaser, the other horses have to do about three strides to his one.

“We’ll enjoy this a lot. Tom got the fractions fantastically right, as he did at York. Jason (Hart) got them exactly right when he rode him at York and I thank him for giving him such a fantastic ride last time.

“We all know how to ride him to his strengths, he’s a galloper, pure and simple, and we’re very lucky to have him.”

Marquand said: “It was a fantastic performance and he’s a fun horse to ride. He goes out wearing his heart on his sleeve, you know that everybody knows what you’re going to do and they’ve got to try and stop you almost.

“That was a huge thrill. All credit to Hughie Morrison and the team at home for keeping him right, and Lord and Lady Blyth – it’s fantastic. He’s had some great days, but he deserved a Group One and it would have felt wrong if he had never got one.”

On whether it was the plan to go that far clear, he added: “It’s a case of going and finding a rhythm and wherever that puts you, it puts you. Obviously we showed that in the Lonsdale Cup last year and it just feels like the right way to ride him. Thankfully I got it right today.

“Once I lit him up at the three pole, it was evident that we were going to get home – it was just whether something would have exceptional ability to come and catch him. It’s a nice feeling to go to that sort of race with that amount of stamina underneath you. Big performance.”

Murphy said of Coltrane: “It was obvious in the first furlong that Lone Eagle, Tashkhan and Broome – those horses you’d expect to go forward – weren’t going forward, so I changed my plan and decided to let Coltrane roll down to the first turn.

“I thought Tom was very clever – round those sharp bends, he allowed Quickthorn to really slip on. You can only go so fast around those turns, because they are quite sharp, and by the time we turned to go back uphill, he had a sizeable advantage.

“He (Quickthorn) had to use up a fair bit of energy albeit basically going downhill to get away from us. But often you pay for that sort of ride and in the last furlong I wasn’t sure if he (Quickthorn) would stop completely, but I probably cost myself second position by trying to close the gap from three down.

“Quickthorn has a massive pair of lungs and covers so much ground, so he has enough pace to get away from a high-class field. I was aware of what could happen, and he was still able to do it.”

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