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A late addition to a Group One field provided connections with a handsome return on their investment when the Irish-trained Lightening Pearl claimed the Cheveley Park Stakes.

Young Qatari royal Sheikh Fahad al-Thani paid the STG14,000 ($A22,134) to put her in the race which provided a breakthrough at the top level for her owner and trainer Ger Lyons.

Sheikh Fahad is the coming man in racing through the ownership of around 45 horses under the Pearl Bloodstock banner and his decision to bankroll the Qipco British Champions series.

Similarly, Lyons is likely to be a prominent trainer for many years and was emboldened to ask the owner to supplement Lightening Pearl (3-1) after her assertive performance in last month’s Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh.

Lyons has been training since the early 1990s but it could be said he is still in the early stages of a serious career.

That is not exactly the case for Johnny Murtagh as a 99th Group One win at the age of 41 confirmed the jockey’s standing as the master of the big occasion.

Murtagh kicked on early but had to survive a thunderous late challenge from Sunday Times who finished a half length second.

The major disappointment was the previously unbeaten 11-8 favourite Best Terms, who never looked happy back in fifth.

“We’ve had plenty of winners but this was only our second runner in a Group One – the other was third,” Lyons said.

“We try to get black type with fillies and it was a no-brainer to supplement her for the race – I wanted to do it two minutes after she won at the Curragh. You don’t win Group Threes in Ireland by five lengths.

“It’s great for Sheikh Fahad. The game needs people like this.

“Johnny rode my first ever winner and has been a great friend. When he got off her at the Curragh, he said, ‘This could be our first Group One’.”

The beaming Sheikh Fahad, who is only 22, became an enthusiast of British racing when at university in London.

“It is my second year in the game and I have a Group One winner. I’m very happy – hopefully it’s the start of many.” he said.

Lightening Pearl is a best-priced 20-1 with Ladbrokes and William Hill for next year’s 1000 Guineas.

Murtagh said he had a soft spot for Lightening Pearl.

“Ger is a great friend of mine and has done a great job,” he said.

“I rode his first winner in 1994, his first Listed, his first Group Three winner, first Royal Ascot winner and now this.

“From day one she was always good.

“The more racing she got, the faster she got and she was very professional.

“I think she had the race won from a long way out.”


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