Malibu Moon's Valiant Force Provides Amo's First Royal Winner In The Norfolk

Valiant ForceMegan Ridgwell


All the talk before Thursday's G2 Norfolk S. centred around American Rascal (Curlin) and Elite Status (GB) (Havana Grey {GB}), but it was the 150-1 shot Valiant Force (Malibu Moon–Vigui's Heart, by Quality Road) who held sway to provide Amo Racing with a breakthrough first Royal Ascot winner. Runner-up to His Majesty (Ire) (No Nay Never) on debut in the Listed First Flier S., the Adrian Murray-trained $100,000 Keeneland September yearling was discounted by the betting public due to his latest fifth despite having excuses in the G3 Marble Hill S. Dominating the far-side group under Rossa Ryan, he veered left late on but hit the line with 1 1/4 lengths to spare over Malc (GB) (Calyx {GB}), with the 7-4 favourite Elite Status half a length behind in third.


As it turned out, the Marble Hill was the race to concentrate on ahead of this much-anticipated renewal with The Curragh's staging post featuring not only the winner but also Ballydoyle's His Majesty, who had been involved in a three-way go in that six-furlong contest. Left stranded on his own up the centre of the track on that day as the remainder crossed towards the stands' side, Valiant Force was still in front a furlong from the finish and had quicker ground as well as company to aid his cause this time. His Majesty was clear of the disadvantaged stands'-side pack here in fourth, becoming the fourth Ballydoyle juvenile to represent the stable with major credit this week.

Kia Joorabchian owns the winner alongside Rachael O'Callaghan and Giselle De Aguiar and said, “We've been trying for a long time and we kept getting beaten, but kept getting up. I'm just delighted for these guys. We've loved this horse all the time and he was on his own last time at The Curragh, so we knew he could do it.”

Adrian Murray, who hit the board in Tuesday's juvenile feature, added, “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. We were third here in the Coventry Stakes on Tuesday and I wondered if that would ever happen again. It's the stuff of dreams. It's great for the small man.”

Malc's trainer Richard Fahey was almost completing a third consecutive success in this race and commented, “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. 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.”

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

Pedigree Notes
The winner is the first foal out of the unraced dam Vigui's Heart, a daughter of the triple stakes scorer Blue Heart (Exchange Rate) and half to the GIII With Anticipation S. third Joyful Heart (Kitten's Joy). Blue Heart is kin to four other stakes performers including the dam of the GIII Gulfstream Park Sprint S. winner C. Zee (Elusive Bluff). Also connected to the triple graded-stakes place-getter Katie Baby (Curlin), Vigui's Heart's filly foal is by Mitole.


Thursday, Royal Ascot, Britain
NORFOLK S.-G2, £110,000, Ascot, 6-22, 2yo, 5fT, :59.75, g/f.
1–VALIANT FORCE, 129, c, 2, by Malibu Moon
1st Dam: Vigui's Heart, by Quality Road
2nd Dam: Blue Heart, by Exchange Rate
3rd Dam: Flawless Diamond, by Saint Ballado
1ST BLACK-TYPE WIN; 1ST GROUP WIN. ($75,000 Wlg '21 KEENOV; $100,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP). O-Amo Racing, Mrs R O'Callaghan & G De Aguiar; B-Ramon Horta Rangel & Spendthrift Farm (KY); T-Adrian Murray; J-Rossa Ryan. £62,381. Lifetime Record: SP-Ire, 3-1-1-0, $89,328. Werk Nick Rating: B. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree, or the free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Malc (GB), 129, c, 2, Calyx (GB)–Bereka (GB), by Firebreak (GB). 1ST BLACK TYPE; 1ST GROUP BLACK TYPE. (34,000gns Ylg '22 TATSOM; 140,000gns 2yo '23 TATBRE). O-Middleham Park Racing LXVI; B-Bearstone Stud (GB); T-Richard Fahey. £23,650.
3–Elite Status (GB), 129, c, 2, Havana Grey (GB)–Dotted Swiss (Ire), by Swiss Spirit (GB). 1ST GROUP BLACK TYPE. (56,000gns Wlg '21 TADEWE; 325,000gns Ylg '22 TATOCT). O-Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum; B-Whitsbury Manor Stud (GB); T-Karl Burke. £11,836.
Margins: 1 1/4, HF, 3/4. Odds: 150.00, 66.00, 1.75.
Also Ran: His Majesty (Ire), Thunder Blue (GB), Devious (GB), Reveiller (Ire), Mon Na Slieve (Ire), No Nay Mets (Ire), The Fixer (Ire), Toca Madera (Ire), Shayekh (Ire), American Rascal, Noche Magica (Ire). Scratched: Baheer (Ire), Hala Emaraaty (Ire).

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