Sheikh wins 250th Doncaster Cup
Sheikhzayedroad got the better of a terrific tussle with Quest For More to win the 250th Doncaster Cup.
Having shown himself well up to this level when third in both the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in mid-June and the Goodwood Cup in late July, David Simcock's stayer was an 100/30 chance for his latest test over two and a quarter miles on Town Moor.
Lonsdale Cup winner and 5/2 favourite Quest For More set out to make all under George Baker and it looked as though he had timed the fractions superbly in the two mile two furlong contest.
Most of the field were under pressure in the final two furlongs and failing to close the gap but Sheikhzayedroad loomed alongside.
The pair settled down to fight it out with Quest For More holding the seven-year-old throughout the final furlong only for Harley to persuade the quirky Sheikhzayedroad to put his head in front on the line.
St Michel, stepping up in class having won four of his last six starts in handicaps, ran a fine race to pick up minor honours in third.
The big disappointment of the race was Clondaw Warrior, with the Galway Hurdle winner and American St Leger runner-up fading tamely and finishing tailed off.
Harley said: "He's run some very good races this year and got a nice, even gallop there all the way.
"Fair play to the old boy, he's been around and he keeps producing the goods – him and David!
"I didn't want to hit the front three (furlongs) down as he is a little bit quirky, but he's tough and he put his head down in the right place at the right time."
Simcock said: "He's given us a lot of good days and has been consistent all his life. He's a tough old warrior. We absolutely love him to bits at home.
"We don't over-race him and he'll have one more run this year, be it in Canada or at Ascot (Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup) and then he'll do the same next year – go to Dubai and run at Ascot (in the Gold Cup) – it will be the same routine and he enjoys it.
"We keep him fresh and he takes no training. He's as slow as a hearse at home, but he's very loveable and really special to the yard.
"These stayers are great. You can give me 10 of these horses over a five-furlong horse all day long.
"They're fun to watch and fun to train."
Quest For More was not beaten far into ninth place in last season's Melbourne Cup, but a return to Australia is not on his agenda.
Trainer Roger Charlton said: "It's great to see a race like that, he was incredibly brave and it was close.
"He has run a really good race, but if there was an excuse it is that there is a headwind, we were it in all the way. George gave him the perfect ride though, I thought – the right fractions and everything. So to be done in the last two strides like that is tough.
"He's not entered for the Melbourne Cup. We'll go to Champions Day if the ground is suitable, if not, we'll go to Dubai."
Sir Mark Prescott, trainer of St Michel, said: "He ran a very good race, I've got no complaints at all.
"He's roughly the same horse as Alleluia, who this race for me (in 2001), so I thought he had a perfectly justifiable reason for coming.
"He'd have needed to win today to be certain to get into the Cesarewitch. I'd probably still run him if he got in. Mr Pearce, who owns him is 97, so the more good days he can have the better."
St Michel now heads the betting for the Cesarewitch at 7/1 with Sky Bet but standing at number 83 in the confirmations list – even taking a 4lb penalty already acquired into account – his chances of making the final cut look unlikely at this stage.
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