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British runners struggle but Oisin Murphy flies the flag with Group 2 success

The pot of riches offered on Qatar's biggest race day of the year turned out to be nothing more than a mirage for British and Irish runners as they endured a fruitless afternoon in the desert at Al Rayyan.

No contest on the eight-race card was worth less than £250,000 but as the setting sun turned the sky a beautiful shade of peach, it was the Qatari and French contingent who bathed in the glory of success. 

"The ground out there is like lightning and he's just not used to that," was the assessment of trainer Michael Bell, after his Stone Circle failed to pick up when asked for more by rider Andrea Atzeni in the closing stages of the Al Biddah Mile. 

"We've had a great week nonetheless," added Stone Circle's owner David Fish, who, while gracious in defeat, could not hide a tinge of disappointment. "It would have been a bonus for us to win but it's just a shame the ground was that quick as it didn't allow him to show his best. 

"Hopefully we might be able to persuade them to redirect some of the water from all the hotels to here next year! We'd love to come out again but you'd need to have a real daisy cutter if you want to be competitive against the locals on this sort of ground." 

Fellow Brit Maystar boasted a course victory on his resume but also found the going too quick, fading under Hollie Doyle much to the disappointment of the members of Hambleton Racing, who had exuded a quiet, knowing confidence in the parade ring before the gates opened.

Doyle picks up ban

Maystar's jockey Hollie Doyle picked up a four-day suspension for careless riding in the Al Biddah Mile. The ban will be reciprocated in Britain.

Make A Challenge, Ireland's sole representative on the day for trainer Denis Hogan, failed to sparkle in the Dukhan Sprint, while the David O'Meara-trained Gulliver finished a creditable fourth.

Yet all was not lost for the British cause. Champion jockey Oisin Murphy smiled broadly following his first victory in Qatar, an international racing venue at which the all-conquering Irishmen had yet to make his mark.

Called back to the winner's podium to pose for pictures after the Al Biddah Mile, the diminutive Murphy was soon comically masked from view by the connections of winner Sir Arthur Dayne, who appeared to forget his presence as he was swallowed by a sea of white thawbs – the formal outfit of choice for men in Arabian countries.

However, even that couldn't shield Murphy's delight after he broke his Qatari duck at the 27th time of asking. "I'm thrilled," he said. "It's my first winner in Qatar and I'm pleased and relieved more than anything else to finally get off the mark here. 

"It's mad really. This is my third year but I haven't been able to buy a winner in the past. My statistics here prior to today did not make for pretty reading!"

History was made in the final race on the card, HH The Amir Sword, when Arabain legend Ebraz won his third running of Qatar's most prestigious contest and picked up a further $1 million bonus following victories at Goodwood and Longchamp last year. 

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