Spear Puts Rivals To The Sword To End Group One Hoodoo

Horse Racing | Press Article 16/04/24


The David Simcock-trained Lightning Spear powered to an impressive victory in today's feature race, the G1 Qatar Sussex Stakes under Oisin Murphy, to end his Group One hoodoo.

Lightning Spear had run in G1 company 15 times before today, with notable efforts including a short-head second to Rhododendron in the G1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May, 2018.

The seven-year-old son of Pivotal, a dual winner of the G2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood (2016 & 2017), travelled smoothly in fourth in today's mile contest and once finding room in the home straight, quickened up smartly to score by a length and a half.

Simcock, who has also enjoyed Classic success this year with Teppal in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches at Longchamp, France, was effusive in his praise of the seven-year-old entire's performance.

The Newmarket handler said: "I'm delighted with Lightning Spear. He looked good today, quickened well and travelled well - he did everything properly. Oisin has grown up with the horse, he is a very confident jockey and he was very patient waiting for the gap today. Sheikh Fahad loves this horse and he will be absolutely delighted. Unfortunately, he can't be here today, but he'll be made up.

"Lightning Spear has done very little wrong apart from win a G1 up until now. He is a lovely horse to train and a lot of work goes into him. He has placed in six G1s I think and has never really let us down, though he was little bit inconsistent last season. To win a G1 is not easy and you have to accept it.

"Lightning Spear is a wonderful horse and is very talented. To win a G1 is extra special. He was going really well and I thought if he got a gap he would win. They didn't go much of a pace, but that did not really matter. You are trying something different all the time, trying to change something. To see him fill up and quicken up like that was great, and it is the horse we see at home an awful lot. It is just getting it all to click, with that little bit of luck that we haven't had at times.

"Oisin had no instructions. Sit where you land and do your own thing. Oisin loves the horse and has confidence in the horse. We felt we were slightly robbed at Newbury, if anything, so this more than makes up for it. Oisin knows him very well and he can ride the horse as you like now.

"I am just really pleased for the horse. More pleased for the horse than anybody. It is great for Sheikh Fahad, the Qatar Racing team, the yard, but for the horse to get his G1 like that is great. It's nice to win a G1 at Glorious Goodwood and any G1 victory is great. He has run just twice out of G1 company for me and won two G2 events, so he has always had to run in G1s really.

"He has probably had his knockers, slightly unfairly I feel and so to win a G1 is great. Lightning Spear has come across some very good horses. This year, if we are being honest, there is probably not an outstanding horse in the mile division and so it has been his time. He wasn't any better or any worse when he was running in these races even two years ago. Eventually, you will come across a year where things go your way and he just looked really good today. He had everything pan out perfectly for him today.

"I do as I'm told with this horse as Jenny [Simcock's wife] rides him every day and she does a wonderful job with him. I don't think Lightning Spear would be here today without her.

"He was quite headstrong and fiery when we got him and now he is just the nicest person and very straightforward to ride. Jenny is a special part of the whole thing. Jenny and my children are so fond of him and he is just a very special horse to have in the yard."         


One of the best older horses in training finally nailed a much-deserved Group One prize when landing the £1,059,250 Qatar Sussex Stakes, the feature race at the five-day Qatar Goodwood Festival.

Lightning Spear had run previously in 14 top-grade races, and frequently been placed, including when third in the Qatar Sussex Stakes last year. His CV also includes two other Goodwood wins in the G2 Celebration Mile (2016 & 2017).


Today, ridden by Oisin Murphy in the colours of Sheikh Fahad's Qatar Racing Ltd, and trained by David Simcock, the seven-year-old entire Pivotal horse scored at 9/1, beating Expert Eye (4/1) and Lord Glitters (10/1) by one and a half lengths and half a length.

David Redvers, racing and bloodstock manager to Sheikh Fahad, said: "From some time ago we felt this was his race, and the way he has been running this year we knew he had a fine chance. The way the race was run suited him.

"There was a moment when I was worried, but he needs riding like that [covered up] because he has such a turn of foot. He's seen too much daylight on occasions in races, but fair dues to the Simcocks [David and his wife Jenny, who rides the horse each day] because they have the key to him. They and the boss were patient and it has paid off."

Redvers confirmed that Lightning Spear would join the Qatar Bloodstock roster of stallions at his Tweenhills Stud in Gloucestershire, adding: "He's one of the best-looking horses in racing, he's won a stallion-making race and he's by Pivotal."

Jenny Simcock, fighting back tears of joy, said: "That means everything. I'm spoilt and ride him every day, and he's a gentleman, a very expressive horse, and he leads the string.

"He's a fresh horse, but a lovely one to ride, and he has a very good temperament. My children go into his box and feed him Polos and carrots. I felt today that if he got a gap he would win, because he has such a turn of foot. We always say to Oisin, count to five, count to five, before you make a move.

"This is the first time he has raced on genuinely good ground. On soft ground he looks like he doesn't quite gets the mile, and he's come across some very good horses - and beaten many good horses."

Murphy said: "The pace was slow, but he relaxed, and I got a little bit of cover off James Doyle [on runner-up Expert Eye].

"I never ever get nervous before G1s - before the Derby and that I like making fun of the other jockeys - but I was nervous today and down at the start I was trying to hide it. I am over the moon - what a horse! And what a training performance. He deserves to win a major G1 and at seven years of age, it is outstanding.

"I always reflect on races and I possibly left a G1 behind me this season on this lad. I am lucky I have a good boss in Sheikh Fahad and a supportive trainer in David Simcock.

"I wanted to ride him as I did because he loves to travel behind heels. I was sure Expert Eye was going to fade away at some stage, bearing in mind this is a mile and his best form is over seven. I had a G1 winner on Benbatl on Sunday, but to get a second G1 for Sheikh Fahad [after Roaring Lion's G1 Eclipse Stakes win] is unbelievable. This will mean a lot to Qatar Racing, Sheikh Fahad and his brothers."


The feature race of the day, the £1,059,250 G1 Qatar Sussex Stakes (1m) went to Lightning Spear (9/1), who came with a late run to beat the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Expert Eye (4/1) by one and a half lengths. 

Stoute commented on his Acclamation colt's run: "My fella just wanted a little more cover and to settle better, but he has run a blinder."

Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner/breeder Khalid Abdullah, said: "He has come to win the race and has run genuinely. Second in a Group One - we will have a lot worse results than that this year. The way he has run is pleasing and there is something to build on.

"We will have to look at a variety of races, but I don't see why not to keep him at a mile.

"He has run a very solid race and fair dues to the winner."

James Doyle, who rode the three-year-old, said: "It was a horrible race to ride. We went no pace. I was doing a little bit too much on the outside with no cover.

"I am very pleased with him - he has run a super race. He has stuck his neck out all the way.

"I think the winner deserved to win a race like that. "

Third placed Lord Glitters' trainer, David O'Meara, said: "It was one of those messy races - he was a touch unlucky but he's a fantastic horse and I do think if things drop right for him he'll win one of these."

Danny Tudhope, jockey of the 10/1 chance, added: "He ran a blinder."

John Gosden, who trained the 7/4 favourite Without Parole who finished seventh of the eight runners, said: "It was a slowly run race - it just was not his day."


The John Gosden-trained 7/4 favourite Without Parole finished a disappointing seventh of the eight runners in the G1 Qatar Sussex Stakes behind impressive 9/1 scorer Lightning Spear, trained by David Simcock.

The three-year-old son of Frankel was forced to make much of the running under Andrea Atzeni in the mile feature and was unable to repel an array of challengers in the home straight, eventually trailing home in seventh.

Andrea Atzeni, said: "The race wasn't really run to suit for me as I was forced to make most of my own running and when the field came to me, he tried to get involved, but he just couldn't quite go with them."

Gosden added: "It was a slowly run race and not his day."

3.35pm £1,059,250 G1 Qatar Sussex Stakes, One Mile

(Part of QIPCO British Champions Series)                                             

1 (4) Lightning Spear David Simcock 9st 8lb Oisin Murphy 9/1

2 (6) Expert Eye Sir Michael Stoute 9st 1lb James Doyle 4/1

3 (2) Lord Glitters (FR) David O'Meara 9st 8lb Daniel Tudhope 10/1

4 (5) Gustav Klimt (IRE) Aidan O'Brien, Ireland 9st 1lb Ryan Moore 13/2

5 (3) Beat The Bank Andrew Balding 9st 8lb Jim Crowley 9/2

6 (1) So Beloved (Eyeshields) David O'Meara 9st 8lb Adam Kirby 50/1

7 (7) Without Parole John Gosden 9st 1lb Andrea Atzeni 7/4 Fav

8 (8) Orbaan Andre Fabre, France 9st 1lb Silvestre De Sousa 16/1

Winner owned by Qatar Racing Limited

8 ran

Time: 1m 39.89s

Distances: 1½, ½, nose, neck, 2¾, 1½, head

Breeding: 7 ch h Pivotal - Atlantic Destiny(IRE) (Royal Academy)

Tote Win: £11.10 Places: £2.70; £1.70; £2.60 Exacta: £56.30          

David Simcock - 28 Goodwood winners (5 at Qatar Goodwood Festival)

Oisin Murphy - 12 Goodwood winners (3 at Qatar Goodwood Festival)