Twice as nice for Abdullah in International Stakes

Prince Khalid Abdullah found the most spectacular way to end a wait to win a race he has sponsored for more than 20 years as Twice Over beat his own Midday in a gripping conclusion to the Juddmonte International Stakes at York.

Prince Khalid Abdullah found the most spectacular way to end a wait to win a race he has sponsored for more than 20 years as Twice Over beat his own Midday in a gripping conclusion to the Juddmonte International Stakes at York.

This has been a season in which Abdullah and trainer Sir Henry Cecil have shared moment after moment of joy with the exceptional Frankel.

The only change to the now-established scene was that jockey Ian Mongan could enjoy a slice of the glory instead of Tom Queally.

For Cecil had selected Queally to partner the mare Midday, who became a six-time Group One winner in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, giving Mongan a golden opportunity on Twice Over.

Underrated in the betting and perhaps similarly during a career which has spanned five years and yielded an Eclipse and two Champion Stakes, Twice Over (11-2) was third in the market behind his stablemate and Aidan O’Brien’s red-hot 8-13 favourite Await The Dawn.

As good as Await The Dawn had looked in the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot, this was his first test at the highest level and he was unable to sustain his challenge much beyond the two-furlong pole.

With O’Brien’s pacemaker Windsor Palace fading at that point, Queally made the first advance, but Midday began to edge left for security on the far rail, while Mongan managed a truer line down the centre.

It became apparent with a furlong to run that Twice Over could catch him and he gained steadily to win by three-quarters of a length, inflicting upon Midday nearly as agonising a defeat as the winner had experienced to Rip Van Winkle on the Knavesmire 12 months earlier.

Mongan, who was a shade unfashionable before Cecil recognised him as his stable’s second jockey, said: “He’s a true champion, this horse, and really stuck his neck out.

“I’ll never forget this. I would like to thank the Prince and Sir Henry for putting faith in me because this is as good as it gets.

“I didn’t think they went particularly quick and I think Midday and Twice Over probably had a bit more turn of foot to go by.

“The way it was looking I thought it might be a dead-heat, but he really stuck it out.

“I rode one for Sir Henry to win at Folkestone one day and it just went from there.

“He’s so great to ride for – he just gives you confidence.”

Abdullah declared himself “very pleased” on a day when his Sea Moon rose to favouritism for the St Leger after demolishing his rivals in the Great Voltigeur Stakes.

Cecil said: “I was nervous today, but I enjoyed it. The Prince has sponsored this race for years and years and never won it before.

“And I said to him if we didn’t win it today we’d have to wait for Frankel, hopefully, next year.

“They both deserved to run. If the ground had been a bit faster, Midday might have given Twice Over a closer race.

“Tom Queally was on Midday and he’s won six Group Ones on her so I wanted him to stay on her, and Ian Mongan was on Twice Over.

“I’ve always thought a lot of him. He’s my second jockey and is very underrated. If he got better rides he’d be right in the top flight.

“I’m so pleased for him. He really deserved it.”

In accruing almost £550,000 of prize-money, Cecil is now second in the trainer’s title and 5-4 favourite with William Hill.

He can now look towards Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot in October, where Frankel is to run in the QEII Stakes, with even more enthusiasm.

“We will probably leave Twice Over alone, freshen him up, and go for the Champion Stakes at Ascot,” said Cecil.

“He’s a gentleman. The longer they are with you, the more attached you get to them. They become great friends and that’s his fourth Group One.

“Midday had won six and is a wonderful horse. She’ll be entered in the same race and we’ll see what happens.”

Twice Over is offered at 3-1 by Boylesports for the Champion Stakes, with Midday the same price for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

Await The Dawn finished five lengths behind and O’Brien reflected: “I don’t want to take anything away from the other two, but it has been a while since he ran at Ascot and maybe I should have given him another run or a racecourse gallop.

“America (Breeders’ Cup Classic) is still the long-term plan and we’ll try and find something in between.”

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