Mighty Maraahel stings Scorpion backers

Maraahel displayed the battling qualities which have been a hallmark of his 2007 campaign when completing back-to-back victories in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Maraahel displayed the battling qualities which have been a hallmark of his 2007 campaign when completing back-to-back victories in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.

With fears abounding over his ability to show his best form on the rain-softened ground, Richard Hills’ mount was allowed to go off at 100-30, having been as short as 9-4 in the morning.

That drift was accompanied by a big move for Scorpion, who started a 4-5 chance, but when the chips were down at the end of a memorable contest it was Maraahel who found most to give Sir Michael Stoute a first Royal winner of the week.

Hills had taken the six-year-old to the front early in the home straight and although Scorpion and Mick Kinane closed, they were always being held, going down by half a length, with Mighty two and a half lengths back in third.

Asked about a plan for the Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned winner, Stoute said: “There is the King George back here next month, but Sheikh Hamdan has asked me to leave him in the Eclipse as well.

“It will be one or the other and we’ll have to see how he comes out of today. I’d love to win a Group One with him.”

Stoute had seen several fancied runners hit the canvass and he admitted: “It’s been a little bit frustrating, but I’m thrilled with this. This horse is better than ever as a six-year-old.”

Hills added: “He’s been pretty much taking on the best for the last four years.

“He doesn’t like to be touched, so when John Egan’s horse (Mighty) rushed up behind me I moved closer and was happy to be there coming into the straight. Once he gets in front he’s a hard horse to get by.

“He’s been right up there with the best for a long time and has managed to get it right three times this year, which is fantastic.”

Aidan O’Brien, trainer of Scorpion, said: “He ran a stormer and it was a very good race.

“He was coming home well and was getting there and getting there. He is well entered, including back here in the King George, and we’ll go home and discuss plans.”

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