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ASCOT, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND – Qatar Racing Limited’s The Lir Jet dove bravely past the front-running Golden Pal in the final jumps to land a big win in Friday’s Norfolk Stakes (G2) on Day 4 of the 2020 Royal Ascot Meet.
The Norfolk is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with The Lir Jet receiving an automatic berth in the Juvenile Turf Sprint at Keeneland this November.
Sent away at 6/1 stateside odds under Oisin Murphy, The Lir Jet sat within early striking range while Golden Pal went straight to the lead after breaking alertly from the barriers. With 2 furlongs remaining, Golden Pal began to distance himself from much of the field and looked for a moment to be a runaway winner.
The only runner to keep pace with Golden Pal, The Lir Jet had to alter course slightly as Golden Pal drifted a bit before getting clear again near the 1-furlong marker. Putting in a tremendous late bid, The Lir Jet moved alongside the leg-weary Golden Pal and inched ahead in the final steps.
Crossing a neck clear of his game rival, the Michael Bell trainee completed the 5-furlong sprint over the good to soft going in a final time of 1:01.55.
“During the race, I was a bit worried when the leader went so far clear,” Bell said. “Oisin obviously thought he had it in control, but The Lir Jet battled. He is very inexperienced – he had only run the once – and has never had to dig in before … He has learnt how to race today and I think you will see an even better performance next time, hopefully.”
Imperial Force was 3 lengths back in third, while Lipizzaner won a three-way photo for fourth by a pair of necks over Macho Pride and Ventura Tormenta, respectively. Andronicus Beau, Jojo Rabbit, Eye Of Heaven (the even-money stateside favorite), Nelson Gay, Cooperation, and Papal Bee completed the order of finish.
Emirati Dirham and Get It were non-runners.
What a race! The Lir Jet reels in Golden Pal in a thrilling finish to the Norfolk Stakes for jockey @oismurphy, trainer @MikeBellRacing and owners @Qatar_Racing 🏆#RoyalAscot pic.twitter.com/8FdFOlkQYk— Ascot Racecourse (@Ascot) June 19, 2020
What a race! The Lir Jet reels in Golden Pal in a thrilling finish to the Norfolk Stakes for jockey @oismurphy, trainer @MikeBellRacing and owners @Qatar_Racing 🏆#RoyalAscot pic.twitter.com/8FdFOlkQYk
The Lir Jet’s win followed a smashing debut 16 days ago when he broke the all-ages record for 5 furlongs at Yarmouth (covering the firm going in :59.00). He followed in the footsteps of his sire Prince Of Lir, who won this race in 2016.
“The sire won the Norfolk on soft ground, so we were quite hopeful with the ground,” Bell said. “I did not think that would worry him. He has obviously already won on fast ground, so he is one of those lucky horses that goes on anything.”
The Lir Jet brought back $14.40 to win and $4 to place, Golden Pal brought back $5.80 to place, and Imperial Force paid $4.60 to place.
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