Literato Hangs on for Champion Victory
Photo: Trevor Jones
French invader Literato (left) takes the Champion Stakes over Eagle Mountain.
French raider Literato took the lead within the final furlong and tenaciously held off the determined rally of Eagle Mountain to claim a head victory in the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes (Eng-I) at Newmarket Oct. 20.

The victory by Literato marked the first win on British soil for his trainer, Jean-Claude Rouget. It was the second consecutive win in the Champion for jockey Christophe Lemaire, who was aboard the mare Pride for her victory in 2006.

As expected, Speciosa went to the lead after the break and set a reasonable pace on the front end.  She was followed closely by Mount Nelson and Pinot Noir. South African raider Mullins Bay raced prominently in fourth and loomed a serious threat as the field of 12 entered the home straight.

Johnny Murtagh had Eagle Mountain rolling under a full head of steam by this point, and the pair hit the front with two furlongs left.  Literato was also making progress from mid-pack, and the gray colt drew alongside Eagle Mountain with a furlong to run. The pair fought stubbornly to the wire, with Literato coming away with the hard-fought victory.

Doctor Dino, winner of the Man o’ War Stakes (gr. IT) last month at Belmont Park, rallied for third, three lengths behind the top pair.  Final time for the 10 furlongs was 2:04.24.

Favorite Notnowcato was never a factor, finishing sixth.

After the race, Literato’s owner, Herve Morin, said, “He is a very courageous horse, and he likes a battle.  I would have liked to run him in the Arc de Triomphe, but Jean-Claude said ‘No, we will win the Champion Stakes.’”

Literato, who was second in the Prix du Jockey-Club Mitsubishi Motors (Fr-I) earlier this year, is a 3-year-old colt by Kendor out of the Cardoun mare La Cibeles.  He now sports nine wins from 11 lifetime starts.

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