Virtual Nips Alexandros in Juddmonte Lockinge
by Jack Shinar
Date Posted: 5/16/2009 1:15:01 PM
Last Updated: 5/18/2009 6:45:16 PM

Virtual tagged Alexandros in the final stride for a nose victory in an exhilarating renewal of the Juddmonte Lockinge Stakes (Eng-I) at Newbury May 16.

Ridden by Jimmy Fortune, Virtual challenged Alexandros and Twice Over with a furlong to run and got a break as Alexandros, ridden by Frankie Dettori, was slightly squeezed when Twice Over hung right. Tom Queally, riding Twice Over, struck Dettori's whip and knocked it out of his hand.

Godolphin's Alexandros was hard-ridden from there to gain a narrow advantage 100 yards from the wire, but he just failed to hold off the all-out Virtual in a photo finish.

"I thought [Alexandros] got me--I felt sick going across the line," Fortune told Racing Post after the race. "But this lad stuck his neck out, and must have just got him on the line."

Twice Over was a half-length behind in third in the one-mile straight event, with hot 11-8 favorite Paco Boy finishing fourth. Paco Boy may have been compromised by the soft going at Newbury. After emerging from the pack to challenge the first three on the stands side rail in the final stages, he lacked his usual powerful kick for jockey Richard Hughes.

Trained by John Gosden, Virtual is a 4-year-old son of Pivotal owned by Cheveley Park Stud.

"It was a stunning finish, because from my angle it looked like we had been beaten a short head," Gosden said. "Going past the line he was a full head in front but on the line Jimmy thought he had been done.

"(Virtual) deserves it, he's a proper horse. He didn't get on with Ascot last year, and I think if we're wise we'll freshen him up and go for the Eclipse (Eng-I)."
 



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