Newmarket: Fanning lands upset to win first Group 1

Joe Fanning on The Last Lion landing his first Group 1 victory

PICTURE: Getty Images Middle Park upset as
The Last Lion holds on By Alex Wiltshire 3:32PM 24 SEP 2016

Report: Newmarket, Saturday

Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes (Group 1), 6f, 2yo colts

THE LAST LION landed a monumental shock to defeat Godolphin's Blue Point in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes as the 25-1 shot provided birthday boy Joe Fanning with a first Group 1 win of his career on the day he turned 46.

Mehmas could only finish third on his final start before beginning life at stud.

The Mark Johnston-trained colt has been consistent for his trainer this year, having now finished in the top three on all ten of his juvenile starts, five of them under Fanning.

The Last Lion stepped back up to six furlongs after finishing second in the Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster over five furlongs, and the move reaped rewards with Blue Point unable to close the gap in the closing stages.

Fanning joy

A delighted Fanning said: "He is a good horse. He has been tough all year. His owner, John Brown, said if he finished fifth he would be delighted with him. His work early on was brilliant in soft ground and he won on soft in the Broklesby. I thought it might be against him today, but it didn't seem to bother him.

"He is a very laid-back horse and very versatile, very tough.

"I am delighted. It is great. I've ridden about 27 Group 2s and 3s. I needed to get that Group 1. It is great that it's on my Birthday – it took a long time!"

Johnston added: "What a fantastic horse! It has been fairy story right from the beginning.

"Many years ago we had Mister Monet in the Champions' Stakes and he broke his leg and didn't make it.

"When I saw this horse at Goffs from the same family, I phoned John Brown and I said, ‘You've got to have this one' – and he did.

"I'm sure this means the world to Joe [Fanning]. It is fantastic for him. He has ridden a huge number of winners for us over the years at all levels.

"He doesn't usually get the opportunity to ride in the Group Ones, but that is the main reason he hasn't had a winner before now. But hopefully he will get a few more before he retires."

No excuses for Blue Point

Charlie Appleby was satisfied with the run of Blue Point and suggested that he would now be put away for the winter.

"Blue Point has no real excuses as he had a nice horse to aim at but just couldn't get to him," said Appleby. "He's run his race as we had Mehmas behind us today so the form is good.

"I think that will be it for now with him and we will put him away to prepare for the Commonwealth Cup."

The Last Lion was cut into 10-1 (from 20-1) by BetVictor for next year's Commonwealth Cup, while Blue Point was eased out to 8-1 (from 6) for the Group 1 contest.

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