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Racing

Lightning Spear wins the Celebration Mile in thrilling finish

Oisin Murphy timed it to perfection as Lightning Spear made it back-to-back wins in the Grosvenor Sport Celebration Mile.

Having hinted his turn was not far away when finishing third in the Sussex Stakes, the six-year-old duly delivered to become just the second horse to claim successive victories in the Group Two.

It looked as though the race was going to go the way of last year's runner-up Zonderland on his long-awaited return, after the Clive Cox runner reeled in leader Hathal late on.

But in one final swoop the David Simcock-trained even-money favourite pipped his old rival on the post, winning by a nose.

Murphy said: "I just about got it right. I made no secret about how tactical the race was going to be. It was impossible to know what was going to happen, but you have to have confidence you have chosen to do the right thing and thankfully I just about got it right.

"Fair play to Sheikh Fahad and David Simcock for persevering with the horse. They got him here in tip-top shape after a heavy ground performance in the Sussex. It was a good performance today.

"I've lived, breathed and dreamt horse racing since I was a child. It's very hard to leave it at the races. Lads say they can leave it behind when they go in the door, but I can't so it's important when it goes right."

David Redvers, racing manager to Sheikh Fahad's Qatar Racing operation, said: "We sponsor the race at Ascot (QEII), but I imagine the Foret (at Chantilly) is a strong possibility. I believe he has a Group One in him and we've always believed he has."

Cox said: "It was close, but he has run a blinder after a year off. I'm pleased with the performance he put up. From where I was I hoped we had held on, but it was a bit like yesterday with the angles at York and sadly we were second.

"He has run a blinder and credit to my team as it has been a long year. I'm thrilled he is back here in good nick. I hope he will go to Ascot. It is a shame he was second, but credit to the winner."

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Racing