Lightening Pearl took command two furlongs from the wire and held off the late bid of Sunday Times to win the $255,000 Jaguar Cars Cheveley Park Stakes (Eng-I) at Newmarket Sept. 24.
The daughter of Marju improved her record to three wins from five starts, and provided trainer Ger Lyons with the first group I victory of his career.
A field of nine juvenile fillies went to the post in the Cheveley Park, with the Richard Hannon-trained Best Terms being sent off as the 11-8 favorite. The daughter of Exceed And Excel was hoping to keep her perfect record intact, having rattled off four straight wins (with two stakes victories) entering the Newmarket contest.
Lightening Pearl was sent off as the 3-1 second choice. The bay filly sported a record of two wins from four starts. She entered Saturday’s race off an easy five-length score in the Go and Go Round Tower Stakes (Ire-III) at the Curragh Aug. 28. Prior to that, she was third to the undefeated Maybe in the Keeneland Debutante Stakes (Ire-II) Aug. 7.
At the start it was Sajwah who broke the sharpest and was sent to the lead by Richard Hills. They were followed closely by Best Terms, who was very headstrong and was racing keenly under Richard Hughes. Johnny Murtagh had Lightening Pearl at the rail in third, as Miss Work of Art tracked in fourth.
With two furlongs remaining, Murtagh asked his filly for more run and the response was immediate, as Lightening Pearl drove past Sajwah to take the lead. Sajwah briefly held second, but something suddenly appeared amiss and Hills quickly pulled her up.
Lightening Pearl continued on strongly to the finish, holding off a fast-closing Sunday Times to win by a half-length. Angels Will Fall finished third, another 1 1/4 lengths further back.
The final time for the six furlongs was 1:11.23 over the good to firm going.
Sajwah, who was able to be loaded onto the horse ambulance and taken to the Newmarket Equine Hospital, was discovered to have suffered a broken pelvis and was euthanized.
After the race Murtagh said, “From day one I always knew she was good. She won her maiden well and maybe the key was running over six furlongs. I always thought she was a mile or seven-furlong filly, but she had the race won a long way out.”
Lightening Pearl is owned by Sheikh Fahad Bin Abdulla Al Thani, who races under the banner of Pearl Bloodstock. She was bred in Ireland by Castlemartin Stud and Skymarc Farm, and is out of the stakes-winning Rossini mare Jioconda. Lightening Pearl hails from the immediate female family of champions Classic Cliché, My Emma, and Moments of Joy.