Racing: Refuse To Bend triumphs in straight fight

Faith can move mountains, it is said, so a trifle like the well-being of a horse should be well within its metaphorical compass. So it proved here yesterday, as Refuse To Bend repelled Warrsan by a head to take the 107th Eclipse Stakes. And the gaze of proprietorial satisfaction cast by Sheikh Mohammed on his brave, battling little bay in the winner's circle spoke volumes.

Refuse To Bend, last year's 2,000 Guineas winner, had become rather the forgotten Classic hero, and his owner's judgement in head-hunting him for a vast sum last autumn had been called into question. But it is also said that, while form is temporary, class is permanent, and the first intimation of the colt's rehabilitation came with his victory in last month's Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

"I always believed in this horse," purred the Sheikh, "and that he would be a good horse again. You have to have faith, but you also have to have patience. If we had pressured him, rushed him, we would have lost him. We waited, and we have our reward."

Refuse To Bend made the transfer from Dermot Weld's care to the sheikh's élite Godolphin operation, overseen by Saeed bin Suroor, after he beat only two in the Breeders' Cup Mile in October, and two more flops followed this year, at Nad Al Sheba in March and at Newbury in May. "I loved him the first time I sat on him in Dubai in the winter and I have to say those runs had me scratching my head," said yesterday's winning rider Frankie Dettori, "but I think he had just lost confidence. He had had one dance too many last year, and he remembered."

Although the sheikh always had faith, Refuse To Bend, apparently, needed his Royal Ascot win to restore his self-belief. "That was the making of him again," said Dettori. "He walked to a different beat afterwards." With the four-year-old's class redeemed, the one doubt before yesterday's fray was the step up in distance from a mile. Dettori's instructions were explicit. "The boss told me to be aggressive," he said, "and that if he stays, he stays, and if not, he doesn't."

He did, and fairly and squarely, too, for Warrsan, the Coronation Cup winner, tested him all the way up the stiff climb to the finish. But Refuse To Bend is well-named, and the Coral-sponsored £237,220 first prize was his.

If Dettori had a more or less dream run round, Philip Robinson, on the hot favourite Rakti, had a nightmare. Despite his jockey's best efforts the big horse, his own worst enemy, refused point-blank to settle behind his pacemaker, Maktub, and was a spent force after the turn in. "Seriously talented, seriously difficult," said trainer Michael Jarvis, not wholly ascribing blame to the softened ground.

Refuse To Bend, a 15-2 shot, followed Ballydoyle raider Powerscourt into the straight in fourth place and Dettori made his move to the front a furlong and a half out. "I have to say seeing Rakti running away brought a smile to my face," he said. "When Powerscourt started stopping, all my options had gone, and I had no choice but to go with Warrsan. As a proven mile-and-a-half horse, he was one of the last ones I wanted to have to take on up the hill, but I knew mine had fighting spirit, I knew he was on a high mentally, and a horse like that will run to the line."

Warrsan (12-1) deserves as many plaudits for his part in such a stirring finish, and despite his so-gallant defeat is still in line for the £1m bonus on offer to the winner of the Summer Triple Crown. Two legs remain, the King George at Ascot later in the month, for which Godolphin's Doyen is favourite, and the York International in August.

"I've got to be proud of him," said the runner-up's trainer, Clive Brittain. "And if he's OK, he'll be at Ascot." The tough six-year-old, racing for the 30th time yesterday, is a great credit to Brittain, who said with typical modesty: "It's taken me five years to learn how to get the best from him."

Four lengths behind the principals came Kalaman (12-1), who looked a picture in the paddock and must be considered unlucky not to have finished closer, having been repeatedly stopped in his run in the straight, including by Warrsan, for which misdemeanour Darryll Holland earned a one-day ban. Norse Dancer finished fourth, Powerscourt fifth and Ikhtyar sixth. Rakti faded to eighth, one place in front of the first three-year-old home, Derby fifth Salford City.

Refuse To Bend, a classically elegant son of Sadler's Wells, will ultimately take his place at Sheikh Mohammed's Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket, and will command some premium as a Group One winner at two, three and four. His future campaign has yet to be confirmed, but will take in the obvious mile and 10-furlong races.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones