Surrounding (Mick Halford/Ronan Whelan, 10/11 Fav) landed the €60,000 Listed Al Basti Equiworld Irish EBF Cooley Fillies Stakes (7.45pm, 14 runners) for the second year in succession at Dundalk this evening.
The mile Polytrack contest was a Fast-Track Qualifier, with Surrounding now guaranteed a start in the £150,000 Ladbrokes Fillies & Mares' Championship at Lingfield Park on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 10, 2020.
The six-year-old travelled supremely well throughout as she was settled just behind the leaders. The daughter of Lilbourne Lad made smooth headway to take up the running inside the final quarter-mile and stayed on well for a very comfortable two and three-quarter length success from Crotchet (Joseph O'Brien/Gary Halpin, 10/1), with Festina Plente (Johnny Murtagh/Niall McCullagh, 33/1) another length and a half away in third. The winning time was 1m 36.90s.
Surrounding was winning her ninth race from 25 starts. Earlier in 2019, she won her first Group race when landing the G3 Brownstown Stakes over seven furlongs at Fairyhouse in July.
Winning jockey Ronan Whelan said: "I love Surrounding to bits.
"Every time she turns up in a race like this, you always know you are in with a winning shout.
"She felt really good today and has really skipped off the surface. The last day in the G2 (the Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown in September), she travelled with loads of pace, so today I was happy to take her back and let her take me into the race.
"She has done it nicely and I think there might be a plan to take her to Dubai over the winter, so tonight was a nice stepping stone.
"Mick has done a great job with Surrounding. He backed off her after Leopardstown and let her freshen up. She has come here tonight like it was her first run again and we would be hoping she would come on again for this.
"When horses travel as well as Surrounding did tonight, the gaps come for you and she filled me with confidence. I was only going through the motions in the last furlong and she has enjoyed herself."
Earlier in the evening, history was created with the first G1 race to be staged on an All-Weather surface in the UK.
The G1 Vertem Futurity Trophy was originally due to take place on turf at its usual home, Doncaster, on Saturday, October 26 but had to be abandoned due to waterlogging. The mile contest was rescheduled to take place over the straight mile on Tapeta at Newcastle today (6.00pm, 11 runners). Being a rescheduled turf contest, the Vertem Futurity Trophy does not form part of the All-Weather Championships.
It was Kameko (Andrew Balding/Oisin Murphy, 11/2) who came out on top, scoring impressively by three and a quarter lengths from Innisfree (Aidan O'Brien/Seamie Heffernan, 11/1), with Year Of The Tiger (Aidan O'Brien/Padraig Beggy, 16/1) another neck away in third. The 13/8 favourite Kinross (Ralph Beckett/Harry Bentley) was fifth.
Owned by Qatar Racing, Kameko travelled well throughout and took up the running just over a furlong from home before running on well for a comprehensive success. The winning time was 1m 36.26s, a new course record for two-year-olds.
Kameko was purchased for $90,000 at Keeneland by David Redvers, Racing Manager for Qatar Racing, in September, 2018. Kameko is by Kitten's Joy, who also sired Qatar Racing's superstar Roaring Lion. A four-time G1 winner in 2018, Roaring Lion's career at stud was tragically cut short with his death following a bout of colic in August this year.
Winning trainer Andrew Balding commented: "I hate criticising jockeys, but I think if Oisin had ridden the Royal Lodge again, he would have won that race and we would have come here today expecting to win.
"I was very relieved when it was decided to run the race here rather than wait until later in the season on grass. All thanks must go to the sponsor, ARC and the BHA for getting it on because I think it was a proper horse race today and Kameko is a very good horse.
"The Royal Lodge was probably my fault as I had him a bit too fresh. We have been a bit harder on him and he has responded well to it. He is a horse that thrives on work and racing - I am so looking forward to next year.
"We will have to discuss next year and it will depend on how far he can stay. I am thrilled he is a G1 winner as a two-year-old.
"There is a bit of symmetry with Roaring Lion, in that this horse is also by Kitten's Joy and David bought him as a yearling. I am just so thrilled for Sheikh Fahad - he has always supported me and Oisin as well."
Oisin Murphy added: "I would like to thank the whole Qatar Racing team, Sheikh Fahad and his brothers and Sheikha Melissa, as well as all the team at Park House Stables.
"You have to remember it is very hard to win G1 races and this is my first domestic G1 success for Andrew. Kameko is by the same sire as Roaring Lion in Kitten's Joy. He has got a fair bit to go before he is anywhere near as good as Roaring Lion but this is a brilliant start.
"He relaxed brilliantly today, whereas at Newmarket he was relaxed until I made a switch to follow Frankie with six furlongs to run, which lit him up.
"Today went very smoothly and I am thrilled. Andrew really believed in the horse - I wasn't quite so sure having been beaten in a G2 last time but how impressive was that today?
"That instant acceleration is there and looking forward to next year we can certainly dream. We will discuss it, but it might be that Newmarket is not his actual track - it wasn't really the track for Roaring Lion either. Bearing that in mind, we might have to think outside the box but a mile to 10 furlongs I am sure will be fine."
David Redvers commented: "It is just sensational. Obviously, we have had a very tough and emotional year.
"We witnessed Roaring Lion just get touched off in this race when it was the Racing Post Trophy and to bring another son of Kitten's Joy here today, another relatively inexpensive yearling, and to win in that form was really sensational. He justified Andrew's complete faith.
"All the team are in California and I keep getting photos of sunshine and sand - thank you team! We have got floodlights and sand here and I much prefer it.
"As I said the other day, to be the best you have got to take on and beat the best. While I would never pretend we are the best, it is fantastic to be able to fight a battle like this and come out on top.
"I suppose fortune favours the brave and we have been quite lucky. Who knows how the race would have panned out on deep ground at Doncaster? It certainly worked for us today.
"All credit to ARC and the sponsor. Bringing the race here has given us a high-class two-year-old race - a proper competitive G1 race on a sound surface where the best horse has won. It has been a really good day for racing and for us."