Godolphin’s Mawj came out on top in a memorable renewal of the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket on Sunday, narrowly denying the Irish-trained favourite Tahiyra in a thrilling battle.

The fillies locked horns heading into the dip and quickly put distance between themselves and the 18-strong pack. It briefly looked as though Tahiyra would oblige for the Aga Khan under a Chris Hayes drive but Mawj would not be denied, answering every call of Oisin Murphy to take the advantage nearing the line and ultimately win by a half-a-length. There were no fewer than seven-and-a-half lengths back to the third, early pacesetter Matilda Picotte.

For jockey Oisin Murphy, it was a first 1,000 Guineas success and a particularly welcome one, given it was only 11 weeks ago that he made his return to racing off a 14-month ban.

“I thought I had a really good chance when I was booked for her,” he said. “Then I wasn’t sure with the rain how she would cope, but the word from Saeed bin Suroor and his team was that she was in brilliant shape. It’s great to be a part of it.

“It’s lovely to see a Classic like that as well, when two top-class fillies pull so far clear.

“She was asleep going to post, she never pulled in the race and then she travelled so well. I got out well and I had loads of options – she got into a rhythm and in a straight line so it was very uncomplicated. She travelled into the dip and then it was just about keeping her going.”

Mawj and Tahiyra fight out the finish to the 1,000 Guineas. Photo – Bill Selwyn

There was a time when the Godolphin team belonging to Saeed bin Suroor were never far from the Classic action and indeed Mawj was the trainer’s third winner of the race after Cape Verdi (1998) and Kazzia (2002). However, her victory ended a 14-year British Classic drought for the trainer.

“She’s a tough filly,” he said. “She’s a nice filly over this trip. If you look at her size and pedigree, she looks more of a speed filly. But she stays a mile. It’s great to win the Guineas, it’s a good result for us.”

Mawj was one of the toughest fillies of her generation last season, when her performances included a win in the Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes and placings in the Albany and Cheveley Park Stakes. She tuned up for Sunday with a successful Dubai campaign that consisted of wins in the Jumeirah Fillies Classic and Jumeirah Fillies Guineas.

The tough Godolphin homebred becomes the 18th Group/Grade 1 winner for Darley’s venerable former shuttler Exceed And Excel, now a permanent resident in Australia. Remarkably, she is also the second Classic winner in as many years out of the New Approach mare Modern Ideals after last year’s Poule d’Essai des Poulains hero Modern Games, who later captured the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Also dam of Listed winner Modern News, Modern Ideals is a half-sister to Group 1 winner Ultra and from the further family of Bosra Sham, winner of the 1,000 Guineas back in 1996.

Saeed bin Suroor and Oisin Murphy celebrate following Mawj’s victory in the 1,000 Guineas. Photo – Bill Selwyn