The Last Lion roars home at HQ
The Last Lion showed astonishing resolution to surprise the big guns in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at 25/1.
The Last Lion: Winner of the Middle Park Stakes.
Since winning the Brocklesby Stakes in bottomless ground on the very first day of the season, The Last Lion has shown himself to be a tough and consistent sprinter, and he fought off the challenge of hotpot Blue Point to land this Group One prize.
In victory, he was providing Mark Johnston's number one jockey Joe Fanning with a first Group One victory on his 46th birthday.
To the fore from the start, Fanning was able to set reasonable fractions, but accelerated from two furlongs out. That burst of speed was enough to see off his nearest challengers, but Blue Point emerged from the pack to draw upsides at the furlong-pole.
Favourite backers might have been forgiven for thinking they were going to collect at that point, but The Last Lion had other ideas and pulled away again to score by three-quarters of a length, with the consistent Mehmas two and a quarter lengths further back in third.
Johnston told Channel 4 Racing: "I keep saying you shouldn't pigeonhole horses when it comes to ground – here he is winning a Group One on his tenth start of the year on fast ground.
"It's fantastic for Joe. He doesn't usually get the opportunity to ride in the Group Ones but hopefully he will get more chances to do so before he retires.
"Loyalty has been the number one thing. Many, many times he has been jocked off and had to play second fiddle to a chain of jockeys, but he never complains, turns up every day and gives his all.
"He's nearly always in the top 10 every year and as I've always said, if you follow Joe you won't go far wrong."