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Guineas glory for Thunder
Richard Hannon's big outsider Night Of Thunder sprung a major surprise in the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Well beaten when second to Kingman in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury last time out, the 40-1 shot turned the form round in the hands of former champion jockey Kieren Fallon, getting up despite swerving well to the left in the final furlong.
Kingman was sent off the favourite and finished second, beaten half a length, with Australia putting in a great trial for the Derby in third place, a further head away. The winner's better-fancied stablemate Toormore faded after setting the pace on the near side when the field split into two distinct groups.
Night Of Thunder began his run on the far side but drifted over to the near side in the closing stages before taking the spoils to give Fallon his fifth success in the race.
The jockey said: "I thought he'd given it away, but he's a good horse and hopefully he can continue."
An emotional Hannon, in his rookie season as a trainer, said: "We always thought a lot of him and he's done it well. 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."
Night Of Thunder now has the option of travelling to the Curragh to contest the Irish equivalent on May 24, for which he would need to be supplemented.
Hannon went on: "We'll have to talk to Bruce Raymond (racing manager for owner Saeed Manana), but I'd imagine it will be either the Irish Guineas or the St James's Palace at Royal Ascot. Shifting Power ran great to finish fourth and could be a French Derby horse."
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Kingman's owner Khalid Abdullah, said: "He ran a great race. The field splitting was not ideal, but that's racing and we accept that. He has won his side of the field and we'll have bigger disappointments than finishing second in a Classic. The ground was fine and the winner's the winner, he won it fair and square.
"I imagine it will be the St James's Palace, although Ireland's not out of the question."
Aidan O'Brien was thrilled with the fast-finishing Australia, who was shortened in price at the head of the betting for the Investec Derby at Epsom.
The Ballydoyle handler said: "Joseph (O'Brien, jockey) was always going to follow the pace, and with Toormore on his side it made sense to stay where he was. The field split, but you have to be delighted with him.
"We'll talk to the boys, but the Derby trip shouldn't be a problem. Obviously he was working like a Guineas horse. He has run well, but he should be able to step up for the Derby trip. He's still a baby."