Enbihaar sees out Lonsdale Cup test
Enbihaar will seek an elusive Group One success after fending off the late challenge of Stratum to claim the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York.
John Gosden’s superstar stayer Stradivarius had won the extended two-mile contest for the last two years, but even in the absence of his champion, the Newmarket handler still had the right horse for the race in Enbihaar.
The five-year-old was sent off the 15-8 favourite following a recent Goodwood success and she slotted into the pack as Withhold set the early gallop before the main players all started to line up in the straight.
The Mark Johnston-trained Nayef Road was in front with two furlongs to run, while Crowley looked to be hard at work on Enbihaar on the stands side and Dashing Willoughby launched his challenge on the far side.
However, Enbihaar kept finding for pressure, edging in front with half a furlong to run and stealing a handy advantage on Willie Mullins’ fast-finishing Stratum, eventually prevailing by three-quarters of a length.
Thady Gosden, assistant trainer to his father, said: “We always thought she’d stay two miles as she has that lovely long stride on her. She’s a big filly with a deep chest so there was everything to suggest she’d get it all day long.
“The Qatar Prix de Royallieu, in which she was third to Anapurna last year on Arc day – that’s the aim. She’d stayed in training this season with the aim of winning a Group One and that will be her best chance, against fillies.”
He added: “She handled the ground, but it’s more dead than soft, obviously the ground would be the worry come October, we’ll just have to hope it isn’t too deep.
“She’s hard as nails, she’s definitely maintained her ability and beaten some good stayers there.”
Gosden and Crowley were completing a quickfire double having landed the opener with Alfaatik.
Crowley said: “She is so tough and she stayed very well. Credit must go to Sheikh Hamdan because he’s kept her in training and it’s so great she’s been able to repay the faith we have all shown in her.
“It was a war up the straight. Mark Johnston’s horses are hard to get past. Lots of credit to her. She really toughed it out. She is a super mare.”
A rueful Johnston had to settle for minor honours once more behind a Gosden runner with Nayef Road.
He said: “I don’t know if he’s quite run to form because if he had we thought he would have won.
“Two out he looked to be going better than anything, but he just didn’t win and that’s the story of his life.
“I don’t know where he’ll go next.”