The victory was the 3-year-old’s fourth group I win this season, and marked the first against older foes. It also gave trainer Aidan O’Brien his 16th group I victory this year.
With the scratch of Dream Eater, a compact field of six went to post in the Sussex. As expected, ‘Henry’ was made the heavy favorite, going off at odds of 2-5. Second choice in the wagering was Raven’s Pass, at 4-1.
Fellow Ballydoyle runner Windsor Palace went to the front and set a moderate pace under jockey David McCabe. Major Cadeaux tracked that pair in second, as Henrythenavigator settled comfortably into third under Johnny Murtagh.
The pace began to quicken as the field entered the home straightaway. Murtagh moved ‘Henry’ into the clear, and the pair found themselves in front earlier than usual, with two furlongs still left to run.
Raven’s Pass, who had been tracking Henrythenavigator throughout the mile contest, began to rally from fifth, and drew on even terms with the favorite with a furlong to go.
The pair began a sustained battle to the wire, with ‘Henry’ stubbornly refusing to surrender his lead. The final winning margin was a head, with Raven’s Pass finishing 3 1/4-lengths in front of Major Cadeaux.
Final time for the eight furlongs was 1:38.46 over the course rated as good to firm.
O’Brien rates Henrythenavigator as his best miler ever, above Rock of Gibraltar and Giant’s Causeway. The trainer told reporters afterward that he considered stepping the son of Kingmambo up to 10 furlongs, possibly for a run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I).
Owner John Magnier concurred, telling Sporting-Life, “I am not saying he won’t run over a mile again, but we are thinking of 10 furlongs for his next start. All options are open and at the moment we’d be thinking about the Breeders’ Cup Classic, although we don’t need to decide now.”
Henrythenavigator is by Kingmambo out of Sequoyah, by Sadler’s Wells. Sequoyah was champion 2-year-old filly in Ireland in 2000. She is a full sister to Listen, who was the Irish champion 2-year-old filly in 2007.