Saeed Manana's Night of Thunder turned the tables on favorite Kingman by narrowly winning the QIPCO Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) from that rival in a 40-1 upset May 3 at Newmarket.
Undefeated in two starts as a juvenile by a combined nine lengths, Night of Thunder was a well-beaten second, 4 1/2 lengths by Kingman, in the Greenham Stakes (Eng-III) April 12 at Newbury in his first start of 2014. Despite drifting across the track in the closing stages of the Guineas and nearly into the path of 5-2 second choice Australia, Night of Thunder exacted revenge with a half-length triumph over the 3-2 favorite in the one-mile race. Australia held for third, just a head back in the full field of 14.
Guided by Kieren Fallon for trainer Richard Hannon, Night of Thunder was timed in 1:36.61 over turf rated as good to firm on the straight Rowley Mile course. Stablemate Toormore, the 7-1 third choice, finished seventh with Hannon's rider of first call, Richard Hughes, aboard. The Hannon-trained Shifting Power took fourth with Frankie Dettori in the irons after starting at 50-1 odds.
The field split into two groups soon after the start, with Kingman and Night of Thunder racing in a group of six on the far side of the course. Kingman asserted himself with a furlong to run and threatened to claim a first Two Thousand Guineas win for trainer John Gosden. But Night of Thunder, also among the group on the far side, was full of run for Fallon after tracking at the back of the pack. Though he veered out after three right-handed taps of the whip, he had the stamina to prevail in the final strides.
"I thought he'd given it away, but he's a good horse and hopefully he can continue," Fallon told England's Press Association after the race, his first in a classic since capturing the 2006 Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) with Alexandrova.
"We always thought a lot of him and he's done it well," said Hannon, who just a year after taking over his father's yard enjoyed his first classic. "He gets a mile, no problem, and he settled better today.
"He pulled a little bit in the Greenham and he's turned the form around with Kingman."
Hannon told England's The Guardian that the Guineas' Irish equivalent could be next for Night of Thunder, or perhaps a race at Royal Ascot in June.
"We'll have to talk to Bruce Raymond (racing manager for Saeed Manana), but I'd imagine it will be either the Irish Guineas (Ire-I) or the St. James's Palace (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot. Shifting Power ran great to finish fourth and could be a French Derby (Fr-I) horse."
Aidan O'Brien said he was pleased with the performance of Australia, a son of Galileo out of United States and European champion Ouija Board. He said he believes the colt will stay the 1 1/2 miles of the Epsom Derby (Eng-I), to be run June 7.
A son of Darley sire Dubawi bred in Ireland by Frank Dunne, Night of Thunder is out of the stakes-placed Galileo mare Forest Storm. He is the second winner of the Newmarket classic for his sire, whose Makfi won the race in 2010.
Night of Thunder was knocked down to Rabbah Bloodstock for 32,000 guineas ($51,280) at elite Book 1 of the 2012 Tattersalls October yearling sale.