Rock roars to Sprint victory
Sprinter comes good to land Group 1 prize
Last Updated: September 8, 2012 5:33pm
Society Rock: Took the spoils at Haydock
James Fanshawe's Society Rock under Kieren Fallon won the Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock Park.
The 10-1 chance was landing his first victory since the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2011 as he put his best foot forward to get his head back in front after a couple of promising efforts this year.
In-form Gordon Lord Byron was his closest pursuer in the closing stages but the line came in time as the winner held on by three-parts-of-a-length.
Bated Breath held every chance at the distance but could find no more and was back in third while Ortensia's winning steak came to an end as she could not land a blow.
Fallon said: "He travelled really well and I got all the splits down the rail that I needed.
"He's a little terrier and he tries very hard, which is what you need in this type of race.
"I followed James (Doyle, on Bated Breath) through as I thought he was the horse I had to beat, he gave me a lovely lead through and I was able to pick up on that fast ground.''
Fanshawe said: "It's been a real team effort, I just felt he was a very underrated horse.
"We've been really working on him in the stalls since the July Cup and it's paid off today.
"I haven't had a winner at Haydock in about three years, and I thought with the ground a bit quick and the stalls that we had no chance.
"I'm chuffed for the horse, the owner and the yard.''
A high-class sprinter on his day, Society Rock was winning his second Group One contest, having been successful in the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot last year.
Second in two other Group Ones during his career, this was his first triumph since that day at the Royal meeting and well deserved.
Third in this year's July Cup, plenty of his best form had come with plenty of cut in the ground.
Fanshawe said: "You could say his best ever performance had been in the Golden Jubilee Stakes as a three-year-old (when second to Starspangledbanner in 2010) and that was on fast ground.
"I'm looking forward to the Qipco Champions Sprint at Ascot in October.
"This is the second Group One he has won and he is a proper horse.
"If we had got his stalls problem organised a bit earlier, I'm sure his record would have been even better.
"He completely missed the break when he was fifth in this year's Golden Jubilee. He's always hovered there in these big sprint races.
"I was very worried about the ground. I think Haydock is like Ascot. It is better to ride than to walk because it has got that cushion underneath.
"We were thinking about pulling him out at one stage but I'm glad we didn't.
"We've tried everything with him and Yarmy (Steve Dibble) has done a brilliant job and so has the lad who has been riding him."
Tom Hogan, trainer of Gordon Lord Byron, said: "It was a great run and he's a smashing horse.
"William Buick told me after York that he needed a stiff six and that he would win a Group One over a stiff six or seven.
"He said Haydock might be a bit sharp for him and his reading was probably 100% right.
"There are lots of options. He's in the Ayr Gold Cup in a fortnight's time and he doesn't have a penalty for that."
Fallon added of the winner: "It all came right today and he's done it well. "I've never won this race before, so it was nice. I want to get as many Group Ones as I can.
"When I was riding for Aidan O'Brien I was usually in Ireland as it clashed with the Irish Champion Stakes for a good few years."
Ortensia was later reported to have sustained a cut above the sesamoid bone on her front leg when suffering an overreach.
She now appears to have finished her European campaign, and trainer Paul Messsara tweeted: "The cut was right on the point of the sesamoid and certainly would have been painful enough to restrict her action.''