Valiant Force springs 150-1 Norfolk surprise

Valiant Force caused a 150-1 shock in the Norfolk Stakes, the opening race on day three of Royal Ascot.

Trained in Ireland by Adrian Murray and owned by Kia Joorabchian’s Amo Racing, he was always up with the pace in the centre of the track under Rossa Ryan and while he had previous experience with two runs, he was unconsidered by punters.

Ryan got into a good rhythm aboard the Malibu Moon colt, who had finished runner-up to His Majesty on his debut at the Curragh before being well held in a Group Three contest over six furlongs at the same track on his second run.

The field split into two and six of the first seven home were in the far side group, up the middle of the track.

Bookmakers were in clover as 66-1 chance Malc finished a length-and-a-quarter second, with well-supported Elite Status, sent off the market leader at 7-4, only third.

Wesley Ward had left no one in any doubt that American Rascal was the star of the show from his American raiding party, yet while briefly threatening, he faded tamely in the final furlong.

Not one of the more well-known trainers in Ireland, Murray was walking on air afterwards.

“It’s brilliant, I just cannot believe it. I fell into racing by accident, I’m just speechless,” he said.

“We knew he was a nice horse and we couldn’t believe the price. He was only beaten half a length by His Majesty first time out and he was 150-1 today, it just didn’t make sense! I knew he was much better than that. It’s the stuff of dreams. It’s great for the small man.

“I’ve had some nice jumpers and I love it, I just love racing. ”

Malc’s trainer Richard Fahey was aiming to win the race for the third year in succession and just came up short.

He said: “I’m delighted with him, over the moon. Coming here I thought I had a real nice bunch of two-year-olds, but the way the others had run I couldn’t be confident.

“It’s so tough here, you need everything to go right and for a couple of the others it didn’t go right. Today everything did go right, he sticks his head down and he has a go.

“To be honest we think he’s a six-furlong horse, but at Ascot you almost want a six-furlong horse over five. In the mid-part of the race, I’m not saying that’s where we lost it, but he got a little outpaced and the winner got first run. But I’d have taken second before the race.

“Today was the target so we’ll have to see what we do next.”

Karl Burke said of the beaten favourite: “A furlong out I thought we might catch the leader, but he just couldn’t get there.

“He’s a lovely horse. The Prix Morny was always our target before today. I’ll go and have a word with Sheikh Obaid, but I imagine we’ll step him up to six.

“He’s not the finished article yet, but he’s a lovely horse.”

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