By Geoffrey Riddle at Goodwood
Richard Fahey has admitted that it might have been a mistake to make the running with Ribchester after the 8-13 favourite finished second to shock winner Here Comes When in the the £1 million Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on Wednesday.
For the second time in three runnings at Group One level Ribchester was accompanied by stable companion Toscanini, the supposed Godolphin pacemaker who missed the break as he had done in the Lockinge Stakes and eventually finished fifth under James Doyle.
William Buick led on the market leader and brought the seven-runner field - depleted by the absence of late withdrwals Churchill and Zonderland - over to the stands’ side rail. Ribchester hung to his right in the final furlong but rallied enough to demote old sparring partner Lightning Spear in to third by three quarters of a length.
“Maybe we shouldn’t have made it today, maybe he should have taken a lead as he got a bit lonely in the lead,” he said.
“They made hard work of it and they weren’t going that quick.
“It is a long way around there to try to make all. He disappointed but it is extreme conditions out there. That is National Hunt ground. I didn’t think about pulling him out but I was extremely worried as they are extreme conditions.
“I am disappointed, don’t get me wrong, you come here expecting to win and you don’t but that is life.”
After the race stewards held an enquiry to consider why Buick had appeared to ease for a few strides approaching the final furlong.
Having heard his evidence and viewed recordings of the race they noted his explanation that the gelding had lugged right-handed, and being mindful that he may run onto the heels of the winner, he eased for a few strides before continuing to ride when the colt became re-balanced and ran straight again.
The stewards also looked in to why Ribchester and Toscanini failed to parade in the correct order and having interviewed Fahey on this matter they fined him £1000 for breaching Rule (B) 30.
Buick revealed that Ribchester did not find as much as he had hoped.
“Ribchester has done it from the front before but he wasn’t comfortable from the three furlong pole to the two," he said.
“It is usually a very strong part of his race. He stayed on towards the end, the others got tired in front.
“I was surprised that they got to me, but at the time I was going well enough. He is a gutsy horse, the conditions are terrible out there.”
How strong a constitution Ribchester really has could be tested in under a fortnight’s time as he may bid for a repeat win in the Jacques Le Marois at Deauville on Sunday week, and Fahey was not shirking a raid on the Normandy racecourse.
“There is hardly a blow on him, he is a very tough horse,” he added. “He is in the Jacques Le Marois in 11 days time so we will see how he is.”
Churchill is also entered, and after his withdrawal moments after Havana Grey had won the Molecomb Stakes the clash we all had been waiting for on the Sussex Downs could well take place across the Channel.
"It's extreme out there now,” O’Brien said, having walked the track. “There are other races coming up for him, but I've no idea where he will go. It depends if the lads [John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith] want to stay at a mile or step him up to a mile and a quarter.
"If he stays at a mile he will go to France, if he steps up to a mile and a quarter he will go for the Juddmonte (International), at York.
"It is a pity becuase we were looking forward to running him."