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Fulham Gardens SA
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Lonhro - The
Lonhro returned bigger and stronger as a 4yo and again started his campaign in the Missile Stakes over 1100m at Rosehill. Ancient Song and Air She goes shared the lead from Pride and Power then Ha Ha from Lonhro. By the 800m Air She Goes led Ancient Song then Pride and Power with a gap to Ha Ha then Sportsbrat followed by Lonhro with another break to Notoire. Turning for home Ancient Song joined Air She Goes with a gap to Sportsbrat with Lonhro starting to run on out wider. Passing the 200m Lonhro cruised past then leaders to race away under hands and heels to win by nearly four lengths from Ancient Song with Notoire third. This was the first race where Lonhro was ridden by Darren Beadman and it was Lonhro's eighth consecutive victory.
As the short priced favourite Lonhro was expected to have no problem taking out the Warwick Stakes but an honest performer called Defier who was also being aimed at the WS Cox Plate looked like he was ready to run a great race first up in the race. Hoeberg led Defier and Carnegie Express followed by Lonhro on settling. By the 1000m Carnegie Express joined Hoeberg in front with a gap to Defier followed by Lonhro then River To Me, Mr Bureaucrat and Republic Lass. Around the turn Hoeberg took over again from Carnegie Express as Lonhro moved up to pocket Defier with Republic Lass making ground near the rails. By the 200m Lonhro hit the front from Hoeberg with Mr Bureaucrat running on down the outside with Repbulic Lass getting through and Defier still being held up for one late run. By the 100m Defier got clear and charged through on the inside of Lonhro who was under hands and heels only and was immediately asked for another sprint. it was too late as Defier kept his momentum and held off Lonhro to win by a half head with over two lengths to Republic Lass third.
Two weeks later Lonhro lined up in the Chelmsford Stakes over 1600m at Randwick. Georgie Boy led early from Daniel's The Man, Platinum Scissors and Lonhro. By the 1200m Georgie Boy led clearly from Daniel's The Man then Platinum Scissors and a length to Lonhro. Passing the 700m Georgie Boy led Daniel's The Man as Lonhro moved up to third inside Platinum Scissors but was soon eased as Daniel's The Man lost ground and Platinum Scissors moved forward. Approaching the turn the field started to pack with Daniel's The Man moving out around Georgie Boy with Platinum Scissors close up and Republic Lass making ground along the rails forcing Lonhro to be eased back to try and find a clear run. Around the turn Platinum Scissors drifted wide to the relief of Lonhro's followers allowing the black horse to dash through the gap and set out after the leaders. Passing the 250m it was all over as Lonhro cruised to the front from Georgie Boy with Platinum Scissors out wide while Shogun Lodge and Republic Lass chasing but well behind. Over the final 200m Lonhro was ridden right out but the race was never in danger as he raced to the post nearly three lengths ahead of Platinum Scissors with Republic Lass third ahead of Shogun Lodge.
Only a six horse field lined up for the George Main Stakes but it was described as a mini Cox Plate with Sunline, Defier, Lonhro, Excellerator and Shogun Lodge entered. Sunline set a moderate pace in front from Defier then Shogun Lodge outside Lonhro with Hey Pronto and Excellerator at the rear. Little changed to the turn where Sunline led Defier then Lonhro on the rail inside Shogun Lodge as Excellerator made ground on the outside. On straightening Sunline led Defier with Lonhro pocketed on the inside behind the champion mare as Excellerator moved up in turn pocketing Shogun Lodge behind Defier. By the 200m Defier joined Sunline with Excellerator alongside as Shogun Lodge went for a gap and Lonhro was hard held behind a wall of horses. Inside the final 100m Defier gained the upper hand to win from Excellerator with Sunline a fighting third as Lonhro charged home when he saw daylight 30m from home for fourth a length ahead of Shogun Lodge.
Lonhro was then sent to Melbourne for a rematch with Sunline in the Caulfield Stakes. A field of seven lined up but all race discussions were whether Sunline as a 7yo would return to form and if Lonhro was as effective over 2000m as he was over the shorter distances while fans could only see the contest as a virtual match race between the current champion and the heir apparent. From the start Sunline led Lonhro then Ustinov wide from Distinctly Secret and Republic Lass then Tully Thunder. By the 1600m Sunline led Ustinov then Lonhro and a space to the rest. Little changed to the 800m where Sunline started to show her old form as she quickened from Ustinov as Lonhro started the long chase with Distinctly Secret heading the rest but they were in another race. Around the turn and the crowd roared as Sunline raced clear of Ustinov with Lonhro steadily making ground but giving the mare a huge head start. By the 300m Sunline was over three lengths clear as Lonhro settled into his task. By the 200m Sunline was in front but Lonhro was gaining and the crowd was deafening as the two great horses fought out the race. Inside the final 50m Sunline and Lonhro were level with the mare fighting back strongly but her younger rival edged in front to win by a half neck in race record time. It had been a titanic struggle and many including Lonhro's connections declaring it should have been a dead heat with the amazing effort both horses put in to win the race. Lonhro returned to scale led in by his biggest fan his part owner Jack Ingham as the crowd cheered wildly. Sunline came back after the others and again the crowd cheered equally for the champion who was one start from retirement.
Both horses then headed to the WS Cox Plate two weeks later but fans wondered how much the titanic struggle at Caulfield may have taken out of them. On settling Sunline led Northerly then Bel Esprit followed by Defier then Ustinov and Grandera then Fields of Omagh and Lonhro a long way back. In a muddling run race Sunline led Bel Esprit and Northerly then Defier outside Ustinov with Grandera on their heels and then a gap to Fields of Omagh and another gap to Lonhro and So Assertive who were well out of their ground. Sunline picked up the pace near the 1000m leading by a space from Northerly then another gap to Bel Esprit followed by Defier and Grandera starting to make ground with Fields of Omagh well back and Lonhro a couple of lengths behind him facing an impossible task. Passing the 500m Sunline was peaking on her run leading with the wrong leg as Northerly was stalking with a gap to Defier and Grandera around the tiring Bel Esprit with Fields of Omagh followed by Lonhro desperately trying to making ground well behind the leading group. Around the turn Sunline was joined by Northerly then Defier and Grandera with Lonhro beside Fields of Omagh but still a mile back. Sunline's run ended 100m from the post as Northerly hit the front to win holding off a late challenge from Defier and Grandera then Sunline with a gap to Fields of Omagh a half length ahead of Lonhro with the remaining runners a space behind them.
Lonhro backed up a week later in the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington. It was his final start in a long campaign that had started in late July and it was now early November. Venus Was Her Name led from Bedouin then Forest Jim followed by Tully Thunder three wide with Royal Code on the rails and Lonhro between them from Dash For Cash. By the 1200m little had changed with Venus Was Her Name leading Bedouin then Forest Jim and Tully Thunder followed by Royal Code and Lonhro from Hail and Dash For Cash. On straightening Venus Was Her Name was joined by Forest Jim along the rails and Bedouin then Royal Code and Tully Thunder as Distinctly Secret moved up close to the rails with Lonhro wide on the track. By the 300m Forest Jim led Bedouin and Royal Code with Lonhro challenging on the outside. Royal Code and Lonhro took over inside the final 150 with Distinctly Secret inside then and Dash For cash down the outside. In the final 50m Lonhro edged ahead of Royal Code to hit the line first ahead of Royal Code with Distinctly Secret diving through on the inside to grab third ahead of Dash For Cash.
Lonhro came back in the autumn winning a barrier trial in mid February before lining up in the Expressway Stakes over 1200m. Fouardee led Kingsgate then Belle De Jour followed by El Mirada and Lonhro. On settling Fouradee led Kingsgate and Carael Boy then Belle Du Jour and El Mirada with Lonhro next ahead of Bedouin. Little changed until they were straightening where Fouradee and Kingsgate were joined by Carael Boy and Belle De Jour as Lonhro moved up and looked for a run between them. Pushing through a narrow gap by the 200m Lonhro hit the front from Belle Du Jour with Fouradee and Kingsgate battling on as Carael Boy fought on along the inside. Once clear Lonhro raced away to win by two lengths from Belle De Jour with a greater margin to Carael Boy third.
Three weeks later Lonhro lined up in the Apollo Stakes where Manner Hill and Bedouin settled in front from Carael Boy and Hoeberg then Lonhro followed by Clangalang. Little changed until straightening where Manner Hill kicked clear from Hoeberg with Lonhro running on outside Carael Boy. Past the 200m Lonhro cruised to the lead under his own steam to race well clear of Hoeberg then Manner Hill with Carael Boy making ground. past the post Lonhro was in front by 3 1/2 lengths from Hoeberg with two lengths to Carael Boy third.
He was back a week later in the Chipping Norton Stakes at Warwick Farm over 1600m where Dress Circle settled in front from Charlie Bub and Carael Boy followed by Lonhro then Republic Lass and Shogun Lodge with Freemason last. Little changed in the slowly run race until the 600m where they started to sprint for home as Dress Circle led Charlie Bub then Freemason followed by Charlie Bub as Lonhro started to run on. In the straight Dress Circle was challenged by Carael Boy on the rails with Lonhro starting to hit top speed out wider. By the 200m Lonhro hit the lead from Dress Circle with Shogun Lodge running on late down the outside. In the final 100m Lonhro came away under hands and heels to win by 1 1/2 lengths from Shogun Lodge with Dress Circle third and Republic Lass fourth.
The George Ryder at Rosehill was Lonhro's next target. Melbourne colt Dash For Cash led Lonhro by a half length then Defier on the rails followed by Scenic Peak then Excellerator followed by Gordo and Shogun Lodge. Dash For Cash set a slow speed in front with only a half length to Lonhro then Defier inside Scenic Peak followed by Gordo and Excellerator with Shogun Lodge at the rear. In the sprint for home from the 600m Dash For Cash led Lonhro with Scenic Peak trying to make ground and Defier trying to get out of a pocket. By the 200m Lonhro hit full speed to draw level with Dash For Cash with a break to Defier just ahead of the others. Under hands and heels Lonhro began to draw away winning by two lengths from Dash For Cash with Defier third.
Lonhro was then the raging favourite for the Doncaster Handicap at Randwick over 1600m. Defier and Shogun Lodge looked to be his main dangers but then the rain fell and both his rivals were scratched when the track was rated officially Slow. Early in the day the races were showing a track bias to leaders and runners in the leading groups around the turn were proving impossible to run down. On settling Boreale led Dash For Cash then Grand Armee on the inside of Scenic Peak followed by Lonhro one off the rail. By the 1000m Dash For Cash took over from Boreale with Grand Armee third inside Scenic Peak then Lonhro between Gentle Genius and Thorn Park. Passing the 700m Dash For Cash led Boreale and Grand Armee followed by Scenic Peak as Thorn Park made ground from Gentle Genius then Lonhro. On straightening Dash For Cash hugged the rail clear of Boreale as Grand Armee took the run between them followed by Scenic Peak with Thorn Park out wider then Gentle Genius and Lonhro. Inside the final 200m Grand Armee hit the front and race clear to pass the post three lengths ahead of Dash For Cash with two lengths to Boreale who held out Lonhro for third. This was Lonhro's third and final unplaced run in a race.
A week later on an improved surface Lonhro lined up in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 2000m. Platinum Scissors led Royal Code with a huge gap to Lonhro then Republic Lass from Freemason and Pentastic. The pace slowed to a walk before Freemason circled the field and picked up the tempo leading Platinum Scissors then Royal Code followed by Republic Lass and Lonhro with a break to Pentastic. Passing the 800m Freemason led Platinum Scissors then Royal Code as Lonhro moved up with a break to Republic Lass and Pentastic. Around the turn Platinum Scissors joined Freemason as Royal Code moved up along the rails and Lonhro swept up on the outside followed by Pentastic. By the 200m Lonhro joined Freemason with Royal Code running on and Pentastic wide out. Under hands and heels Lonhro raced away to win eased up by 1 1/2 lengths from Pentastic with Republic Lass making late ground for third.
There was brief speculation that Lonhro might be retired to stud but it was soon announced that Lonhro would return to racing as a 5yo with the WS Cox Plate his spring target.