Persian still packs a punch

PERSIAN PUNCH had to call on all his renowned battling qualities to wrest the Lady O Goodwood Cup from current holder Jardines Lookout at the Sussex track yesterday.

It could have been a scene from a boxing film where the heroic former champ gets up off the floor to slug it out and regain his title.

Despite being headed by his four-year-younger rival two furlongs out, the 10-year-old bravely fought back under Martin Dwyer before the line came in time for him to record a short-head verdict.

And come in time it did for almost unbelievably the heart-stopping excitement continued as the second launched yet another attack in the shadow of the post in a bid to keep his crown.

In the end it was the veteran who was led into the winner's spot and the reception Persian Punch received could not have been warmer as he was cheered to the echo by his adoring fans.

There in the melee to greet the oldest winner of the race was owner Jeff Smith who was almost lost for words.

"It's not often I'm speechless," said the emotional Smith. "He really is a war horse.

"It's unreal, extraordinary, we have run out of superlatives for him. He has won two Goodwood Cups and 11 Group races in all and we should just be here and enjoy the moment because I don't think we'll see the likes of him again.

"He's such a wonderful old horse and loves his racing. He enjoys the challenge of other horses taking him on, if it wasn't a battle he wouldn't be happy."

Smith also paid tribute to winning trainer David Elsworth.

"I have also run out of superlatives for David as well," he added.

After removing his dark glasses worn, perhaps, to hide the tears of joy "I think the post came just in time for us, with another stride Jardines Lookout might have gone past us again.

"I don't know how much longer we will go on for with him. After all he is only 10 so there is no reason why we should stop now.

"Ideally, the plan would be the Prix du Cadran and then the Jockey Club Cup again. We will take it race by race with him.

"He is such a wonderful horse and likes nothing more than a battle."

An exhausted Dwyer spoke of the effort needed for success.

"He makes you work, the old boy he really does," said the successful jockey.

"I think he was taking the mickey out of me because he knows where the winning post is.

"Towards the end when I was tiring, he went right come on, let's go on and win.

"He is an amazing horse. He is hard work but I love him and he is a pleasure to ride. I am privileged to be on him the public love him and after the race I held him back in front of the stands and the crowd really enjoyed it he's a superstar."

From Alan Jarvis trainer of the Melbourne Cup-bound runner-up there was generosity in defeat.

"My fellow would have been a lot better on faster ground but it is nice to see the old warrior win and he deserves it," he admitted.

"It was a great race to watch and they both battled their hearts out.

"The one consolation is that Jardines Lookout doesn't pick up a penalty for the Melbourne Cup when, hopefully, he'll get his ground and this year it is worth £1.5 million."

One group unhappy at the finish to today's showpiece event were the bookmakers, who saw almost £250,000 taken from there satchels after the dramatic battle.

Meanwhile, Majestic Missile continued his rapid ascent up the racing ladder with an impressive victory in the Betfair Molecomb Stakes.

And the colt's trainer, William Haggas, is considering an end-of-season tilt at the valuable French sprint, the Prix de l'Abbaye, for his charge.

However, Majestic Missile will not be able to line up in the valuable Nunthorpe Stakes.

The winner put his Goodwood rivals to the sword with an impressive burst of acceleration inside the closing stages.

Michael Hills, standing in for the suspended Kieren Fallon, always seemed to be travelling better than his rivals aboard the 9-4 favourite.

And once a gap opened, the combination swept through to score by a length and three-quarters from Nights Cross.

Dame De Noche had made the most of her favourable draw to take the opening contest. The James Given-trained filly was bounced out of her berth in stall 17 and quickly grabbed the far rail under Michael Fenton.

The pair never surrendered their advantage to beat San Antonio by a length in the Freephone Stanley Stakes. "There is a strip of fresh ground on the far rail and I wanted her to grab it so everything went to plan," said Given.

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