Feature Story

Spirit Dancer helps Sir Alex Ferguson score in Bahrain 

Spirit Dancer helps Sir Alex Ferguson score in Bahrain  Nov 17, 2023

By Duane Fonseca - 

Former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson enjoyed a first-ever success in the Group 2 Bahrain International Trophy after Oisin Orr bent Spirit Dancer around a wall of horses and hit the target in the 2000m turf contest at Manama on Friday.

Trained by Richard Fahey, the six-year-old Frankel gelding, winner of the Group 3 Strensall Stakes at York in August, did most of his running at the back of the field of 14, and was asked to quicken by Orr making the turn.

Aidan O’Brien’s Point Lonsdale, looking for a first success since winning the Huxley Stakes at Chester in May, led them all into the straight making the most of his position along the rail. However, with a group applying the heat simultaneously, he yielded.

Orr swung Spirit Dancer six-wide straightening up and cut right soon after as he made an early push for glory that saw him take go level with Point Lonsdale (Ryan Moore) with a little over 200m left and kick clear comfortably to win by two and a quarter lengths as John and Thady Gosden’s Shadwell-owned Israr stole second by a head relegating Point Lonsdale to third.

“That is the best ever, without doubt. Against all the pedigrees and form of all the other horses – that’s fantastic, I couldn’t believe it,” Ferguson told RacingTV.

“Richard said to leave it to the jockey, he’ll be all right. I was terrified looking at all the other people involved in this race. Godolphin had five horses in it. That was great, I’m so proud.

“I said to the jockey ‘remember, he’s a Frankel’.”

Asked what the victory meant to him, Fahey joked: “$1 million!”

He then added: “I’m on cloud nine, it's fantastic. 

“It was in my mind all year to come here, but I thought it would be an easier race. I thought he'd win but not beat the field he did today.

“It's just a surreal moment, a moment I'll cherish for the rest of my life. Bahrain has been very good to us and I thought it was fantastic when Sir Alex said that he'd definitely come.”