Kameko has raced into history with an impressive win in the Futurity Trophy at Newcastle, the first British Group One event run on a synthetic surface.
Originally due to be the centrepiece of last Saturday’s rain-abandoned fixture at Doncaster, the Group One event was swiftly rescheduled to be run on the all-weather track at Gosforth Park.
The original field featured the Andrew Balding-trained Kameko up against five from Aidan O’Brien’s stable but another five horses went to the post after acceptances were re-opened.
The heavily-backed favourite was the Ralph Beckett-trained Kinross, but in the end Kameko was dominant, capping champion jockey Oisin Murphy’s year.
Sent off at 11-2, Kameko travelled strongly midfield before drawing clear to beat the O’Brien-trained Innisfree by 3-1/4 lengths.
“I was very relieved when they decided to run it here, rather than wait until later in the year on the grass,” Balding said.
“I think it was a proper horse race today and he is a very good horse.”
Paddy Power cut Kameko to 10-1 from 25-1 for next year’s Derby, but Balding is not looking too far ahead.
“He’s a horse who thrives on work and racing and I’m so looking forward to next year with him,” he said.
“We’ll have to discuss that (targets) – it depends how far we think he can stay – but I’m thrilled he’s a Group One winner at two.”
The win was an emotional success for the Qatar Racing team following the death of the top-class Roaring Lion earlier this year.
Roaring Lion was narrowly beaten by Saxon Warrior in the race two years ago, but went on to win four Group Ones as a three-year-old.
“I’m thrilled for the whole Qatar Racing team. It’s very hard to win Group Ones and this is my first domestic Group One winner for Andrew,” Murphy said.
“He’s by the same sire as Roaring Lion. He has got a way to go before he is anywhere near as good as him, but this is a brilliant start.”