Dream Of Dreams achieved his Group One breakthrough in the Betfair Sprint Cup – delivering his trainer Sir Michael Stoute’s third victory in the Haydock showpiece.
Oisin Murphy always had the 5-2 favourite up with the pace, travelling at the head of a nearside group which held the overall advantage throughout.
As Dream Of Dreams began to drift across the track on ground described as soft after this week’s rain, he nonetheless ground out victory by a length and a quarter from 25-1 shot Glen Shiel – on whom Hollie Doyle was having her first British Group One ride.
Golden Horde, the Commonwealth Cup winner at Royal Ascot earlier this season, was third – a neck further back.
Dream Of Dreams, following up his Group Two victory in Newbury’s Hungerford Stakes last month, has so often had to settle for minor honours in the highest class – including as a head runner-up in the last two editions of Ascot’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
But the six-year-old made sure the glory was his this time, while Stoute had his third success – 33 years after his consecutive previous victories back in the 1980s.
Philip Robinson, representing winning owner Saeed Suhail, said: “He’s just all of a sudden improved. The gelding operation has helped, without a shadow of a doubt. His mind is in the job.
“He’s a different horse now and I think Sir Michael’s big trick with him is to keep him fresh and he’s giving him plenty of time between races. He’s thriving.
“He’s discovering how easy it is, now he’s got his confidence. Onwards and upwards.”
Robinson added: “Champions Day (Qipco British Champions Sprint) is very possible.
“I think that will probably be his next target.”
Champion jockey Oisin Murphy must serve a seven-day suspension from Monday – but he had words of warning for his title rivals after winning the Betfair Sprint Cup on Dream Of Dreams at Haydock.
Murphy is just two away from 100 winners for the campaign and has a healthy lead over nearest challengers William Buick and Tom Marquand, but he expects the gap to have closed during an absence which rules him out of this week’s Pertemps St Leger Festival at Doncaster.
“I start a seven-day suspension from Monday – so when I get back I shall have to keep the pressure up on the chasing pack,” he said.
“I’ll just try and get racing out of my mind for a week. Although that’s the plan, I don’t know … seven days is a long time!”
Murphy won Haydock’s Group One feature on The Tin Man in 2018, and was always keen on the chances of Dream Of Dreams – having guided the Sir Michael Stoute-trained six-year-old to an impressive victory in the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury last month.
He was spot on too as the 5-2 favourite duly delivered with a length-and-a-quarter call over Glen Shiel, with Golden Horde third and Art Power fourth.
“I was excited about getting back on him, because he was so impressive at Newbury,” he added.
“We edged over to the rail a bit and split into two groups. I was happy to follow Hollie (Doyle) on Glen Shiel. I was happy to stay where I was. He travelled well, and picked up slowly.
“He didn’t have that electric burst, but I think that was because there wasn’t a lot to race with. In a big field where he can come through, he’d be more electric.
“He doesn’t do a whole pile in front, but he does enough – which is the main thing.
“He does lean to the left a bit, but I had Golden Horde in my mind, and he raced in the centre. I thought if he did go a little bit that way he’d have something to race with.
“As a child you watch the big jockeys win the big races, so to ride Group One winners for Sir Michael Stoute is the stuff of dreams.”
Doyle may not quite be in position to launch a serious challenge to Murphy this season, but she excelled again on Glen Shiel in her first domestic Group One – having finished third on Dame Malliot in her only previous experience at the top level in Germany last month.
“I’m so proud of him – I got a massive buzz out of that,” she said.
“He rallied when headed, and he’s chased the winner all the way to the line.
“I can’t fault him. I’m so pleased for (trainer) Archie (Watson) and the owners.
“I thought I might win two (furlongs) down. Nothing was on my girths, but then the winner started coming. I’m very pleased – it was a massive run.
“I’d say Champions Day is the next target (for him).”
If so, Glen Shiel is likely to face Dream Of Dreams again in the Qipco British Champions Sprint at Ascot next month.
Philip Robinson, joint racing manager to winning owner Saeed Suhail, said: “He’s just all of a sudden improved. The gelding (operation, last autumn) has helped, without a shadow of a doubt. His mind is in the job.
“He’s a different horse now, and I think Sir Michael’s big trick with him is to keep him fresh, and he’s giving him plenty of time between races. He’s thriving.
“He’s discovering how easy it is – and now he’s got his confidence, onwards and upwards.
“Champions Day is very possible. I think that will probably be his next target.”
Top Rank reinforced James Tate’s high opinion of him when bouncing back from defeat at York to take the Group Three Betfair Superior Mile at Haydock.
If Tate was disappointed at the time by his first reverse from five starts, the Newmarket trainer was ecstatic on this occasion as the four-year-old grey showed he was Pattern-race class with a convincing display.
The 11-2 chance showed a decisive turn of foot for PJ McDonald to assert in the final furlong and take the honours by a length and a half from My Oberon, with the 6-4 favourite Khaloosy another length and a half away in third place.
“We’ve always hoped he’d be a good horse. We were absolutely devastated when he got beat the last day, but I suppose, in hindsight, that was part of his physical and mental education,” said Tate.
“I was there at York and you could tell after the race he was thinking ‘oh right, there is something else I can do’.
“I don’t thing he wants fast ground, but anything from good or softer.”
The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Champions Day next month could be on the agenda.
“Group Two is the obvious stepping-stone, the Group One is the dream move. He’s entered anyway,” said Tate.
“I thought it looked like he stayed well today. A mile at Ascot would be fine, soft ground would be fine.
“It just depends if it’s a step too soon for him now. If not this year, we’ll certainly look forward to next year. He’ll be a lovely five-year-old. He’s five from six now.”
Top Rank was cut from 25-1 to 20-1 for the QEII with Betfair and Paddy Power.
Ryan Moore came out of self-isolation in Ireland straight to the winner’s enclosure on his first ride back in Britain with victory on Fancy Man in the Betfair Exchange Ascendant Stakes.
The three-times champion jockey had been temporarily based in Tipperary ahead of Irish Champions Weekend, but was able to return to the UK for the Betfair Sprint cup meeting due to a change in Ireland to Covid-19 quarantine protocols for sportspeople.
Fancy Man (15-8 joint-favourite) was also travelling well as Surprise Exhibit, River Alwen and Desert History set the pace.
The Richard Hannon-trained colt quickened nicely to hit the front over a furlong out and cross the line three and a quarter lengths clear of the other joint-favourite, Alenquer, to give Moore his 50th success of the season.
“He’s a proper horse. I like him an awful lot,” said Moore.
“He’s a lovely, big, strong horse out a Galileo mare.”
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