Nathaniel's Quickthorn In Brilliant Goodwood Cup Solo

Quickthorn  | Goodwood Racecourse


Maybe the fact that it is so demanding means that it can only be a once-a-year thing, but Lady Blyth's Quickthorn (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}–Daffydowndilly {GB}, by Oasis Dream {GB}) is a joy to behold when he delivers his runaway train impression and Goodwood's gathering had a full two miles to appreciate it again on Tuesday as he turned the G1 Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup into a one-horse show.

As he had last August when issuing a 14-length beating to Coltrane (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) in York's G2 Lonsdale Cup over this two-mile trip, the Hughie Morrison-trained Secretariat of the stayers was allowed to stride on at the pace he is comfortable at by Tom Marquand but which is simply too quick for the rest of this division's leading protagonists.

Turning for home, the yawning gap was still too sizeable for any to bridge and by the time the 16-1 shot hit the line there was still six lengths back to the nearest in the pursuing blanket. That turned out to be Emily Dickinson (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}), who denied Coltrane the silver medal by a short head, with the G1 Gold Cup-winning 2-1 favourite Courage Mon Ami (GB) (Frankel {GB}) only sixth in a race that will be cherished for many years for the sheer audacity of the winning performance.

“He's a fun horse to ride,” Marquand said. “There's no masterplan with him. Down at the gates Frankie looked across and laughed and said 'are you going to drop in?' He goes out wearing his heart on his sleeve and everybody knows what he's going to do and they still can't stop him. It is testament to how good he is. He's had some great days, but he deserved a Group 1 and it would have felt wrong if he had never got one.”

By the time Quickthorn had demolished the opposition in the Lonsdale Cup last August, he was on a three-timer having also garnered the G3 Henry II S. at Sandown and ParisLongchamp's G2 Prix Maurice de Nieuil. As if that effort took him past his limit, his following three outings which included a disappointing no-show in the G1 Prix du Cadran had seen his stock fall and that York tour de force seem an aberration. It all came back together again as he returned to the Knavesmire for the 14-furlong Listed Grand Cup last time, as he was able to turn back the subsequent G2 Princess of Wales's S. winner Israr (GB) (Muhaarar {GB}) and while there was much upside to that form this was a deep Goodwood Cup and most were happy to overlook him.

What was remarkable about this performance was that Quickthorn actually ran at the right tempo throughout having shown alacrity on this tricky circuit to gain a huge four-second gap or just over 20 lengths on everything after the first mile. Given a breather out in isolation from seven to five out, he was asked to go again from there and instead of caving in continued to churn out sectionals strong enough to ensure the margin never approached being cut back. The gap to Coltrane et al was 15 lengths three furlongs from home and while he was almost 2 1/2 seconds slower than Emily Dickinson from there to the line, she was too far back to make a genuine difference.

Quickthorn's final three-furlong percentage was an almost bang-on 101.45%, while Emily Dickinson was at 108.63%, so that means that the leader was ridden ideally and the filly was given too much to do along with the next four home who finished in a tight bunch. Perhaps the main reason why such class horses got so far adrift was the relatively slow pace set by Oisin Murphy as he lead the peloton, determined not to provide Frankie with a target as he had at Royal Ascot. The others trusted Murphy's judgement and ultimately paid for it.

On the back of some remarkable staying performances in the last 12 months, from the Cadran win of Kyprios (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) to the Northumberland Plate success of Trueshan (Fr) (Planteur {Ire}) and all the parts played by the scene's other main actors Stradivarius (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) and Coltrane, this was something else. Marquand's ride will be recalled for some time to come and he was quick to pardon those in behind in the aftermath.

“It's easy to say in hindsight, but I wouldn't be putting down other riders in behind as you would be doing them a disservice–I would be giving this lad credit for going such a gallop,” he explained. “If I was in behind I would have done the same. He's a relentless galloper and you think 'no horse can keep that up' but 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.”

Hughie Morrison said, “I was amazed he was that price, but we don't mind. We were pretty bullish today and no one was prepared to be the chaser, but had they been they would have probably not got there and then finished out the back. He's got a huge stride and I'd love to do an analysis on that, as it would be something for posterity I think, and he's quite quick. When you cover that kind of ground, it's psychologically hard work for the others to get there.”

“It's great to see that York last year wasn't a fluke and the Lonsdale was like a Group 1, but the opposition didn't turn up,” his trainer added. “I'm sure we would have dealt with Stradivarius and Trueshan there as we dealt with the others today and he was as straight as a die at the end–you wondered if something had come to him he would have picked up again. He's quite hard on himself at home–every other horse has to do about three strides for his one–and so probably in the autumn, he seems to go over the top. That's fair enough after you see what he does on days like today, so we're probably quite nervous about going into the autumn with him again. He's in the Lonsdale again and he'll have a penalty this year, he's got an entry in Ireland [in the G1 Irish St Leger].”

Paying tribute to the owner-breeders, Morrison concluded, “It is fantastic for James and Pam [Blyth], who bred him and it's fantastic to see they kept him and owned him. They have been very patient with him and we've got our rewards. We don't have a huge amount of horses, 50 or 60, and it's fantastic to train these homebreds and to be able to bring them on so they reach their zenith at the right sort of age. Lady Blyth has bred a Grade 1 winner over jumps and a Group 1 winner now–not many people have done that.”

Oisin Murphy saw the damage was done early on as he pondered the ride on Coltrane, who had similarly never got anywhere near the winner at York last year. “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,” he explained. “I thought Tom was very clever around 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 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 would stop completely. 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.”

Pedigree Notes

Lord and Lady Blyth's Daffydowndilly, who also has the improving 4-year-old gelding City Streak (GB) (Cityscape {GB}) with Andrew Balding who took a valuable 12-furlong handicap at Ascot on Friday, is a daughter of Art Eyes (Halling) who captured the Listed Noel Murless S. and was second in this meeting's Lillie Langtry S. when it was staged as a Group 3. From an old Aga Khan family, she has the yearling filly Tardaff (GB) (Bated Breath {GB}) and a colt foal Scarlet Legend (GB) who is a full-brother to Quickthorn.


Tuesday, Goodwood, Britain
AL SHAQAB GOODWOOD CUP-G1, £500,000, Goodwood, 8-1, 3yo/up, 16fT, 3:33.65, g/s.
1–QUICKTHORN (GB), 137, g, 6, by Nathaniel (Ire)
                1st Dam: Daffydowndilly (GB), by Oasis Dream (GB)
                2nd Dam: Art Eyes, by Halling
                3rd Dam: Careyes (Ire), by Sadler's Wells
   1ST GROUP 1 WIN. O-Lady Blyth; B-Lemington Grange Stud
(GB); T-Hugh Morrison; J-Tom Marquand. £283,550. Lifetime
Record: GSW-Fr, 22-9-3-1, $1,005,333. Werk Nick Rating:
   A+++. *Triple Plus*. Click for the
   eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree, or the
   free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Emily Dickinson (Ire), 134, f, 4, Dubawi (Ire)–Chicquita (Ire),
by Montjeu (Ire). 1ST GROUP 1 BLACK TYPE. O-Mrs J
Magnier/M Tabor/D Smith/Westerberg; B-Chicquita Syndicate
(IRE); T-Aidan O'Brien. £107,500.
3–Coltrane (Ire), 137, g, 6, Mastercraftsman (Ire)–Promise Me
(Ire), by Montjeu (Ire). (50,000gns Ylg '18 TATOCT). O-Mick
and Janice Mariscotti; B-Rockfield Farm (IRE); T-Andrew
Balding. £53,800.
Margins: 6, SHD, SHD. Odds: 16.00, 4.50, 3.00.
Also Ran: Eldar Eldarov (GB), Giavellotto (Ire), Courage Mon Ami (GB), Broome (Ire), Tashkhan (Ire), Lone Eagle (Ire), Ocean Wind (GB), Enemy (GB). VIDEO.


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