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Highland reels in Gordon rivals

Published 29/07/2015

Highland Reel ridden by jockey Joseph O'Brien (centre) on the way to winning the Neptune Investment Management Gordon Stakes
Highland Reel ridden by jockey Joseph O'Brien (centre) on the way to winning the Neptune Investment Management Gordon Stakes

Highland Reel eventually ran out a determined winner of the Neptune Investment Management Gordon Stakes at Goodwood.

Aidan O'Brien's Irish challenger was the 7-4 favourite after finishing fifth in the Irish Derby and tracked the pacesetters into the home straight.

Early leader Space Age began to falter inside the last half-mile, but Scottish moved powerfully towards the lead and Highland Reel was briefly short of room after being held in by Disegno.

However, once the gap game, Highland Reel knuckled down to his task under Joseph O'Brien and wore down Scottish to score by a length and a half. Disegno was five lengths back in third.

The winning jockey said: "I was out early enough and I had plenty of horse. When you have the horse, the gaps come.

"He tried his heart out and had a nice position.

"I was a bit worried early doors as we went slow, but in fairness to him he tries and he handles this track well."

Asked whether Highland Reel could be a St Leger candidate, O'Brien said: "He definitely could be. I never thought he'd need a mile and six (furlongs). He did well to win off a slow pace today."

O'Brien snr was guarded on a trip to Doncaster, but was not ruling it out.

He said: "We always thought a mile and a half was going to be plenty far enough for him.

"It was a tough enough race. He relaxed early and then he had to hold his position.

"The energy he lost having top hold his position could have cost him at the end, but he was brave.

"He ran in the French Derby and Joseph thought he would stay, then he disappointed in the Irish Derby so we were a little bit worried, we didn't really know what to expect.

"I thought looking at him there that maybe he was running a little bit on empty at the end, but Joseph felt that he wasn't stopping, so obviously what you are looking at and what he felt may be two different things.

"I suppose we'll have to leave it (Leger) open, the lads will talk and decide what they want to do, but he looks like he's definitely getting a mile and a half so you'd have to be very happy with him.

"If he was going he'll go straight there, but the lads will decide that, have a good chat and see if it's worth doing it or not.

"It's a little up in the air, but if he's going he'll go straight there."

Andrew Balding said of the runner-up: "We were very pleased with that run, obviously.

"As he's a gelding, he won't be going for the Leger, but he could go for the Great Voltigeur at York if he's OK.

"He's a lovely horse for the future."

Medrano was slightly disappointing for David Brown.

He said: "He stayed on OK and he'll be better over the Leger trip."

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