Rivet (right) beats Thunder Snow in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes
Image by Steven Cargill
Rivet got the better of a protracted duel with Thunder Snow to land the Group 2 At The Races Champagne Stakes at Doncaster this afternoon.
A field of six colts went to post for this seven furlong contest with a rich history.
As the stalls opened, it was Thunder Snow and Majeste who went on through the early stages, tracked by Rivet and Grey Britain.
Majeste assumed the overall lead but was niggled along racing to the two furlong pole, where Thunder Snow went on from Rivet, racing wider.
This pair went clear of their rivals and fought out a terrific final furlong, with Rivet and Andrea Atzeni narrowly getting up from Thunder Snow, with a gap back to D’bai and Majeste.
The William Haggas trained Rivet, a son of Fastnet Rock, had made a good impression when landing the Convivial Maiden Stakes at York last month and showed stamina to wear down Thunder Snow here.
For Haggas, this was a second success in the Champagne Stakes after Bog Trotter had landed the race back in 1990 and his third winner of the Ladbrokes St Leger Festival and moved him alongside Roger Varian at the head of the top trainer leaderboard.
“He is lovely-looking horse and a good mover – he is a nice horse,” said the trainer.
“He has had a race today and I thought he was a bit laboured. I think he is doing quite well physically and I need to assess this and see it again.
“He looked to make heavy weather of it but he won and that’s all that matters really. I would definitely like to run him again this season but, whether that is over seven furlongs or a mile, I don’t know. He’s in every smart race that I could find, so we will take it from there.
“I’m thrilled to bits but I need to see it again to assess it. They pulled clear of the third in a slowly-run race, which is a good sign. Andrea said he would get a mile and now probably wants it. He thought the ground was a bit loose on top for him but, all in all, he’s won and, when you come for a race like this from a maiden, you hope they do.
“The Racing Post Trophy back here (October 22) is a possibility but I don’t know whether I’ve put him in (he is entered). I think he’s a good moving horse but a lot of his family have liked top of the ground. All the jockeys who have ridden him so far like him so hopefully they can’t all be wrong.
“His owners, the Starship Partnership, are an eclectic mix. Des Scott, a 87-year-old South African, is marvellous. He’s had horses for 60 years, most in South Africa. There’s also a certain L K Piggott (Lester), who bred Rivet’s dam, Starship and also Messrs Tabor and Magnier. I’m pleased to say they leave it to us, which is fantastic.”
Atzeni said: “Rivet knuckled down well. He is tough and very genuine.
“He is probably still learning a little bit. He got the job done in the end and I would say he is a horse who will get better with time. He will be an even nicer horse next year.
“He is obviously a nice horse and you would think he would get a mile the way he was galloping on at the line and I was struggling to pull him up. He is a very good looking horse who can only get better with age.
“It was hard to pull him up. He is just a horse who is still learning as well. James Doyle probably got the run of the race on the rail and my horse has got a little bit lost.
“When he won last time [York, September 19, three and a quarter-lengths], it was hands and heels and he was made to work a little bit harder today.
Atzeni added: “I do think that he is a horse who is going to get better with time and will be a nice horse next year.”
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor said of his runner-up: “I’m pleased with Thunder Snow’s run. I’m happy with how he finished his race and he saw out the trip well. He has finished second in a Group Two which is a good result.
“This horse will certainly improve in the future. He may have needed this race after coming off a break of 45 days [Goodwood, July 26, beaten one and three-quarter lengths] so he will improve for the race.”
The Godolphin handler suggested the Group 1 Dewhurst at Newmarket [October 8] was a possible target for the colt. He remarked: “There are no plans at the moment for him. He may go for the Dewhurst.”
Charlie Appleby was pleased with the performance of D’bai who stayed on creditably from the back of the field to finish third. Appleby commented: “He is a horse officially on ratings who had a lot to find and the first two are very smart.
“He is a Dubawi and he has more of a profile to be a three-year-old. He has lost nothing in what he has done there today – he’s been placed in a Group Two.”
Appleby suggested that would be the horse’s last run of the season. He said: “I’m happy enough with that. We will put him away for the winter now and we’ll see him as a potential Listed and Group Three type of horse next year when he strengthens up again.”