Saeed bin Suroor and Oisin Murphy were thrust back into the spotlight, with Mawj emerging triumphant in an epic renewal of the Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.
While neither is any stranger to big-race success, for differing reasons victories at the top table have been harder to come by in recent times.
Murphy was champion jockey for three seasons on the trot between 2019 and 2021, but last year was a troubling one for the rider as alcohol and Covid breaches led to him serving a 14-month suspension imposed by the British Horseracing Authority.
But having made his comeback in mid-February, a man of Murphy’s talents was never going to be left sitting in the weighing room when the top prizes are up for grabs and the 27-year-old proved why with a masterful ride aboard Mawj, for a first success in the Rowley Mile Classic having won the 2000 Guineas with Kameko in 2020.
“All the Group Ones are important and it’s a relief as well. The Guineas are such important races,” he said afterwards.
“I was on a long losing run here at Newmarket. I had four full racedays with no winner here and lots of chances and I couldn’t get on the scoresheet, but Teumessias Fox won yesterday and Running Lion was so impressive earlier, so I went out on Mawj full of confidence.”
On securing a Classic winner so soon after his return, Murphy added: “It’s beyond my wildest dreams. I had a really good start back thanks to lots of different trainers supporting me. Just to get back in the big races with a crowd here, it’s a great feeling.
“All the Group One winners mean a lot, even my first winner back meant a lot. I just realise, particularly as I’ve got older, these top-class horses are super hard to find.
“There were 20 horses in the race today who thought they had a chance of winning the 1000 Guineas and there’s only one winner, so you’ve got to savour the moment when you can get those victories.”
Bin Suroor has saddled close to 200 Group One winners around the world during his long and illustrious training career, with names such as Dubai Millennium, Daylami, Sakhee, Swain and Lammtarra adoring his CV. But it had been 14 years since Mastery provided him with the most recent of his 12 previous Classic triumphs in the 2009 St Leger.
The hugely popular trainer has had to watch on as his fellow Godolphin handler Charlie Appleby has become the sport’s dominant force, and Bin Suroor was delighted to show that when given the ammunition he can still get the job done.
He said: ““I think this my 195th Group One winner around the world.
“It means a lot as it has been a long time since we won a Classic race in England. It means a lot to myself, Godolphin and the sport also. It has taken us a long time to win another 1000 Guineas.
“Charlie and myself are a good team. He worked for me for a long time and he has become one of the best trainers now. We are good friends.
“When we started we had very good horses in those days but recently things have been slow with the quality of horses but luckily when I saw this filly start to work, despite her being tiny, she showed her class.
“We ran her in Group races last year and she managed to win one in England then we stepped her up to a mile in Dubai and she won the Jumeirah Fillies Guineas well.
“We talked to Sheikh Mohammed and he let her run in the Guineas today and Oisin gave her a good ride. She has a big heart and I thought she was going to win when they were close.
“I thought she would do well as her last two pieces of work here in Newmarket were brilliant.
“It is a great boost for the stable and everybody at the yard will be really happy.”