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Witch Hunter shocks stablemate Chindit to land Hungerford Stakes





Witch Hunter came from the back of the pack to win the feature Group 2 Hungerford Stakes for Richard Hannon at Newbury Racecourse on Saturday.

The four-year-old, who set off as a 12/1 outsider, was held up in last but produced a superb dash to the line over the final furlong under an excellent ride from Sean Levey to win by a length from Roger Varian's New Endeavour.

Winning trainer Richard Hannon had three runners in the nine strong field, with 2021 winner Chindit a disappointing third in his final race before retiring to stud in India.

Witch Hunter wins the Hungerford Stakes. Pictures by Phil Cannings
Witch Hunter wins the Hungerford Stakes. Pictures by Phil Cannings

Always held in high regard by Hannon, it took until June of this year for Witch Hunter to deliver on his promise when he put in a remarkable performance to win the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot despite setting off as a 50/1 outsider, again coming from the rear of the field to usurp the favourites.

It's been a hectic 12 months for the William Stobart-owned star, completing a season on the all-weather and finishing a brave second on finals day at Lingfield towards the end of February before returning to turf at Doncaster on March 1.

While Hannon might well have been confident of winning the race, especially after the Eve Johnson Houghton-trained defending champion Jumby was declared a non-runner, it was perhaps a surprise that Chindit was not the one crowned champion, with the veteran struggling with the softer ground and falling away over the final two furlongs.

"I'm a bit disappointed with Chindit, but he's not as good when confronted with a rain-softened surface," Hannon said.

"Two out he looked the winner, but then the wheels started spinning and he was treading water.

"Chindit was the best horse and you couldn't see him (Witch Hunter) winning, but looking back he was very unlucky not to win the all-weather championships and Jamie Spencer gave him a great ride at Ascot.

"He's improved all year and William (Stobart) has always been a great supporter of the yard."

Meanwhile, winning jockey Sean Levey said: "There was plenty of pace on with good horses to aim at.

Sean Levey celebrates aboard Hungerford Stakes champion Witch Hunter
Sean Levey celebrates aboard Hungerford Stakes champion Witch Hunter

"He had the perfect elements to be able to make a good show of himself and he's turned up today."



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