Second in no fewer than four Group 1 contests in 2012, Farhh would burst back onto the British racing scene in 2013 with renewed vigour, determination and in a league of his own as he powered away for a facile four length success in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.
Photo: Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)
In the shadows of Frankel on two occasions last season, Farhh continued to improve, opening his seasonal account in 2012 with a clear cut handicap success under Godolphin's long-term bug rider, Antioco Murgia. Although no further successes were incurred for the son of Pivotal, an unlucky third-placed finish in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot, in which So You Think ended his own career with victory, were further complimented by narrow defeats in the Coral-Eclipse and Prix Jacques le Marois. His defeats at the hooves of Frankel were far from an embarrassment, let alone a hindrance to this colts continued progression. Aidan O'Brien had declared war on the Lockinge Stakes this year, a bid to regain the Group 1 that had remained absent from the Ballydoyle trophy cabinet since the 2003 success of Hawk Wing, and in Declaration of War, O'Brien believed he had a horse with the sheer raw ability to run his rivals into the ground.
Purchased for O'Brien's yard after runaway successes in France for the Jean-Claude Rouget stable, Declaration of War's own performances in 2012 left little to be desired, yet his determination in victory at Leoparstown left many impressed. A gamble occurred, with the five year old son of War Front backed down from a mid-week price of 4-1 all the way down to 5-4 before the off. It would be a gamble that would go astray this time.
Slow out of the gate, bunny hopping as the stalls burst open, Declaration of War immediately seemed to lack his normal enthusiasm, uninvolved in the front-end pace, whilst Farhh bounced out of the gate with a zest for racing, providing the tow for the low-numbered stalls as the field of twelve congregated towards the middle of the beautiful Newbury straight course.
As the runners settled down, it would be Reply, also from the O'Brien stable, and Middleham Park Racing's Penitent who would lead the field with Farhh sitting comfortably behind. As the runners continued to bowl along, a minor amount of bumping occurred at the tail end of the field. Soverign Debt, seemingly pulling for his head early on, began to weave around in front of Chill The Kite, narrowly avoiding a coming together with Declaration of War.
An injection of pace was ensured. Seamie Heffernan, regularly the man entrusted with the task of ensuring a strong pace that regularly suits the Ballydoyle preferred runners, bounded clear at the halfway stage, taking many lengths out of the field with Penitent seemingly unable to go with the pace on ground conditions which were a far cry from his preferred
One by one the rivals would begin to toil as Reply continued to bound away at a strong pace. Trumpet Major, Cityscape and Libranno, all top-level performers who deserved their chance in this hotly-competitive contest, began to struggle, dropping away from the main body of the field to eventually canter home past the post in their own time.
Two furlongs to go and Heffernan began to ask Reply for his effort, the warning signs had begun to be exhumed, as the bold sight of Joseph O'Brien aboard Declaration of War loomed boldly on the inside seemingly about to produce his challenge. However, to Reply's immediate inside between him and John Gosden's big hope, Fencing, loomed an even bolder sight of Silvestre De Sousa seemingly sitting motionless aboard Farhh.
A gap opened, De Sousa pushed his mount, urging him to produce his challenge, and the results were immediate. As Declaration of War began to come the strong left handing urges under the whip of O'Brien, Farhh required very little urging, pulling away from his rivals strongly. A late challenge from Aljamaaheer, owner by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, looked to be forthcoming under Paul Hanagan, yet that effort petered out rapidly as the Michael Bell-trained Soverign Debt, whom had greatly pulled for his head early on, would instead go on to finish second some four cavernous lengths behind the runaway winner from the Godolphin stable.
Declaration of War, whom had not run in a Group 2, let alone a Group 1, prior to this outing, could do no better than finish fifth. In Silvestre de Sousa, Godolphin has acquired a cool, calm, collected individual who continues to go from strength to strength. Victory in the Lockinge Stakes acquired the Brazilian-born jockey his first British Group 1 triumph fifteen months after signing a retainer with the powerhouse regime of Godolphin.
"He deserved to get his head in front, he has done it in great fashion" said de Sousa, "When he got to the front, he felt a bit lonely but he has won with a bit in hand and should come on for the run.".
For Godolphin this would mark an uncharacteristically successful early British season, despite the continued investigations into the activities at Mahmood Al Zarooni's Moulton Paddocks Stables.
"It is fantastic, particularly after the problems we have had over the past few weeks" said Simon Crisford, racing manager for his highness, Sheikh Mohammed, "He won really well and it did surprise me as he has been difficult to train. Saeed [Bin Suroor] has had to tiptoe around with him but he has done that impressively.".
For Godolphin, it is now full steam for the team and Farhh ahead to Royal Ascot. A colt whom has ground his mile division rivals into the ground, a bid to follow up in the Queen Anne Stakes, the race that traditionally opens the Royal event, is likely. However, the extent of this five year old son of Pivotal's abilities are not restricted to the mile distance.
Defeated narrowly in the Coral-Eclipse, and unlucky in running in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at last season's Royal Ascot, both of which are run over a mile-and-a-quarter, it would not be a drastic shock, despite this victory, to see the colt arrive in the Prince of Wales's Stakes.
A division which lacks a certain star since the exit of Frankel, Farhh could be the one to take up from where the Juddmonte legend left off, a possibility that looks all bar booked to become a reality in a season which could yet reinstate Godolphin as a large scale super-power within British horse racing from unlikely, early-season circumstances.
Photo Courtesy of Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)