Rock firmly back in saddle to land Cup after Ascot blip

 

The great thing about Flat stayers is that they can be around for such a long time and, in racing at least, familiarity breeds affection.

So although Saddler's Rock and Colour Vision may have many mountains to climb before they are held in the same regard, or even spoken of in the same breath, as the likes of Double Trigger, Persian Punch or Yeats, all multiple Cup winners, including of the Goodwood Cup, they have certainly made a promising start to their careers in the slow lane.

Colour Vision had Saddler's Rock back in third place in the Ascot Gold Cup in June, but it was no surprise that those roles were reversed in yesterday's Group Two Artemis Goodwood Cup and not just because the latter was enjoying a 4lb pull in the weights.

Irish trainer John Oxx viewed Saddler's Rock's Ascot defeat as very much "the one that got away" and was determined that mistakes that may have been made then would not be repeated this time.

Helped by a strong pace, Saddler's Rock was able to settle better this time and, after Johnny Murtagh pressed the go button at the two-furlong marker, the 2-1 favourite stuck on well enough to hold off the outsider Askar Tau and the rallying Colour Vision.

"If just one thing had gone wrong at Ascot instead of three or four, I think we would have beaten Colour Vision," said Oxx, who was saddling his first Goodwood winner.

"So we decided to let him race closer to the pace this time. He was probably in front sooner than he wanted to be, but we didn't want to take any chances this time – we went for the safe option."

Saddler's Rock, described as "small, but all heart and with a great turn of foot" by Murtagh, may turn out again at York later this month, while the Doncaster Cup, which he won last year, and the Prix du Cadran at Longchamp are also on the agenda, provided the ground doesn't come up heavy – "not his cup of tea," according to Oxx.

And we should not write off Colour Vision. Theoretically, he comes out as the best horse in the race at the weights and, although that may be a little misleading, we can at least look forward to many more close battles between these two new stars of the staying division.

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