Richard Hills and Laaheb make Cumberland Lodge their property

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Richard Hills and Laaheb make Cumberland Lodge their property
For the third day running Ascot produced a finish worthy of the grand arena when Laaheb battled his way to victory in the Group Three Grosvenor Casinos Cumberland Lodge Stakes.
The field were staying well off the rail, in an attempt to find a firmer surface on the rain-softened ground, as Kieren Fallon on Whispering Gallery tried to drag the finish out of the rest. It had worked with all but Laaheb, who was launched into the fight early in the home straight by Richard Hills.
By now the pair were in the sort of war of attrition that would not look out of place in a three-mile chase with Whispering Gallery drifting left as he came over on Laaheb, who would not be intimidated as he got up to win by a nose, with 10 lengths back to Monitor Closely in third.
The victory was a timely one for Laaheb’s trainer, Michael Jarvis, who had lost out by the same margin with Ferdoos in the Harvest Stakes on Friday. “Kieren’s gone a good, honest pace.” Hills said. “I always felt I had him covered but when I asked my horse he struggled a bit in the loose ground. But he stuck his head out – I didn’t know whether I’d won but I certainly wasn’t going to go down without a fight. I think they [the Jarvis yard] have had a few photographs go the wrong way so we changed the luck their way.”
There was no need for a photograph after Lady of the Desert won the Group Two John Guest Diadem Stakes for Brian Meehan. Richard Hughes, who is still chasing Paul Hanagan in the race for this season’s jockeys’ title, slipped the filly through a gap between the French horse, Dalghar, and the stands’ rail to win by two-and-a-quarter lengths.
Those who believe that breeding is everything might have been shaking their heads after Fictional Account won the Listed SIS Live Fenwolf Stakes. The mare, by star sprinter Stravinsky out of an Indian Ridge mare, hardly had a pedigree that dripped with stamina but she found plenty for William Buick.
Richard Hills had tried to pinch the race from the front on Tastahil, dictating a steady pace until turning the s***w from six furlongs out. But he still had plenty behind him swinging into the home straight. Richard Hughes was looking around for dangers on Martyr but when he challenged so did Richard Hannon’s other runner, Free Agent, and the Godolphin horse Pompeyano.
But none of them could match the move from Fictional Account when she was brought from the back of the pack by Buick in the final furlong. Winning trainer Vincent Ward is a sheep farmer from Kilcock, Co Meath and his smile in the winner’s enclosure lit up an overcast afternoon. “A fantastic day – this is a day you dream of. I’m 25 years messing around with horses and dreaming of a day like this – and it’s a mighty day. The barn hold six horses and I don’t intend to get any bigger. It’s just a hobby.”
The plans were simple enough, as Ward said: “We’re going to enjoy tonight.”
Ted Durcan, unseated when Anhar broke down badly in the second race, probably did not enjoy the night. Limping away he was still stood down for the rest of the day by the racecourse doctor.



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