Favourite-backers watched on in horror as Lush Lashes was agonisingly denied by Aidan O’Brien’s Halfway To Heaven in the Blue Square Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.
Jim Bolger’s Coronation Stakes winner was the number-one choice of racegoers and was supported down to even-money at the off.
However, there was to be no dream outcome as jockey Kevin Manning found trouble everywhere he went down the straight in the 10-furlong contest after electing to race on the inner rail.
Repeated attempts to extricate himself failed, but to the three-year-old’s credit she weaved her way through to lose out by just a head, with Manning’s job not being made any easier as he dropped his reins close home.
Johnny Murtagh had been aware the race may develop into a tactical battle and always had O’Brien’s Irish 1000 Guineas winner to the fore as the Ballydoyle team took aim on their 17th Group One of the season.
He then sent the 5-1 chance about her business entering the final furlong and she held on by a head in a dramatic climax, with Henry Cecil’s Passage Of Time the same distance down in third and Heaven Sent a neck fourth.
“The run continues, but it was a bit of a tactical race. It went the way I thought it would if there was no pace though,” explained the rider.
“Aidan said she is very straightforward and if she jumps then let her be there.
“He said to do my own thing in front and remember that she is a Guineas winner.
“Inside the two when I let her go she quickened up well and battled out bravely to the line. It is good to come out on top in a finish like that.”
Murtagh and O’Brien have also struck with the like of Yeats and Henrythenavigator this week, and he added: “Today is over and we will roll on to next weekend and the Arlington Million where Mount Nelson is going to run.
“It is just one good horse coming along after the next.”
While joy and happiness surrounded the Ballydoyle brigade, things were not so rosy in the runner-up spot where Bolger took Lush Lashes defeat on the chin.
He said: “These things happen. It is not really frustrating – it is horse racing.
“Kevin gave an accurate assessment of what happened and I’m not in the blame game, I leave that to others.
“I’m not sure where we will go now. She is in the Yorkshire Oaks and we’ll have a look at that. There is also Leopardstown, Longchamp and she has already been invited to Hong Kong so there will be plenty of good days left.”
Passage Of Time ran a storming race, giving 9lb to the winner and runner-up.
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to her owner Khalid Abdullah, said: “She has run really well, she probably would have preferred a better pace and the weight for age has probably made the difference.
“She will either go for the Yorkshire Oaks or a Group Two at Deauville.”