Storming Home Captures Champion Stakes

Barry Hills' decision to fit cheek pieces to Storming Home after he had flopped at Doncaster last month paid handsome dividends when he romped home in the $620,000 Emirates Airline Champion Stakes (Group I) Saturday at Newmarket, the trainer's second success in the race after Cormorant Wood 19 years ago.

"I thought that Doncaster race was tailor made for him," said Hills. "But he just did not do what I expected and I decided to put the cheek pieces on when he won here last time.

"It is not that he is ungenuine, but they have helped him to concentrate and made him an easier horse to ride. Dropping him back in distance seems to have helped him as well.

Storming Home, owned by Maktoum Al Maktoum, raced close to the lead throughout the 1 1/4-mile Champion Stakes. Third three furlongs out, he hooked runner-up Moon Ballad about 1 1/2 furlong from the finish, and won driving.

"They went a good even pace there and his stamina helped to see him home up the hill," said Hills.

The trainer's son Michael, who rode the winner, confirmed his father's thoughts. "(Cheeck pieces) have made a big difference to him and he just travels so much better; it is much easier to ride a race on him now," he said.

There had been plans after Storming Home's previous success that the colt would be going to the United States to be trained by Neil Drysdale. But that is no longer the case.

"I have just been told that he will not be going to America after all," he said. "So that means that we shall start looking at races like the Eclipse and the Prince of Wales's Stakes for him next year," he said.

Moon Ballad and Noverre finished second and third, respectively for Godolphin, the racing entity of the Maktoum Family.

Simon Crisford, racing manager for Godolphin, said: "That was a super run from Moon Ballad and I'm pleased - he'll be a lovely horse for next year. He's finished for the season.

"As for Noverre, Frankie [Dettori, jockey] was really pleased with the way came through in the last 100 yards but he didn't get home in the last 100 yards.

"He's got an entry for the Hong Kong Mile [on December 15 at Sha Tin] and we'll take a view on that later. As you know he's being retired to the Kildangan Stud at the end of the year.

"He's been a great horse for the stable - he always runs his heart out, very consistent and very tough."