Pleased as Punch.
For the second consecutive day, raw emotion took over at Glorious Goodwood.
After jockey Pat Eddery had caused the lumps in the throat following an emotional Sussex Stakes success, this time it was Persian Punch who was the hero as he outgunned Jardines Lookout to win the Lady O Goodwood Cup.
It was a close run thing as the veteran regained his title from the current holder by a short head at the end of a thrilling battle which could have gone either way.
However, despite being headed by his four-year-younger rival two furlongs from the end of the two-mile marathon, the 10-year-old bravely fought back under Martin Dwyer before the line came in time for him to record a short head verdict.
And come in time it did for - almost unbelievably - the heart-stopping excitement continued as the second launched yet another attack in the shadow of the post in a bid to keep his crown.
In the end it was the veteran who was led into the winner's circle and the reception Persian Punch received could not have been warmer as he was cheered to the echo by his adoring fans.
There in the melee to greet the oldest winner of the race was owner Jeff Smith, who was almost lost for words.
"It's not often I'm speechless," said the emotional Smith. "He really is a war horse. It's unreal, extraordinary, we have run out of superlatives for him.
"Looking back to last year when Persian Punch finished last after almost certainly having set off too fast in front, it was just one of those things, and just look at what he has done now.
"He has won two Goodwood Cups and 11 Group races in all and we should just be here and enjoy the moment because I don't think we'll see the likes of him again.
"He's such a wonderful old horse and loves his racing. He enjoys the challenge of other horses taking him on. If it wasn't a battle he wouldn't be happy."
Smith, an executive in the aviation parts industry, also paid tribute to winning trainer David Elsworth.
"I have also run out of superlatives for David as well," he added.
"I think it is no coincidence that the same man has trained two such outstanding horses as Persian Punch and Desert Orchid - there is a genius about the man. He has such special qualities."
After removing his dark glasses - worn, perhaps, to hide the tears of joy - Elsworth also looked back 12 months and accepted that people may have been justified in, at that time, talking of retirement for his star.
"You could be forgiven for misunderstanding the situation," he admitted. " I was confused as well.
"But, by the time he ran next at Newbury, everything was back on course."
Elsworth also paid tribute to the runner-up. He said: "My horse loves getting into a battle and you have to give a lot of credit for making it such a marvellous race to Jardines Lookout.
"I think the post came just in time for us, with another stride Jardines Lookout might have gone past us again.
"I don't know how much longer we will go on for with him. After all he is only 10 so there is no reason why we should stop now.
"Ideally, the plan would be the Prix du Cadran and then the Jockey Club Cup again. We will take it race by race with him.
"He is such a wonderful horse and likes nothing more than a battle."
An exhausted Dwyer spoke of the effort needed for success.
"He makes you work, the old boy, he really does," said the successful jockey.
"I think he was taking the mickey out of me because he knows where the winning post is.
"Towards the end when I was tiring, he went right come on, let's go on and win."
From Alan Jarvis, trainer of the Melbourne Cup-bound runner-up, there was generosity in defeat.
"My fellow would have been a lot better on faster ground but it is nice to see the old warrior win and he deserves it," he admitted.
"It was a great race to watch and they both battled their hearts out."
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|Publication:||Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2003|
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