What a day we had on the opening day of the Royal meeting at Ascot.
Newmarket 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold turned the table on the Curragh 2000 Guineas winner Awtaad, by beating French 2000 Guineas winner The Gurkha by 1 and a quarter lengths in a thrilling St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
This time Frankie Dettori got first run, going for home two furlongs out. Both Awtaad and The Gurkha went in pursuit, but just couldn’t get there. The Gurkha was gaining ground at the finish and pipped Awtaad for second. The ground was probably a little too soft for Kevin Prendergast’s Colt. It was sweet revenge for Frankie and trainer Hugo Palmer, as they’re a little unfortunate not to have three group 1 wins after getting a little boxed in at the Curragh.
Trainer Hugo Palmer said,”Things didn’t go well for him in Ireland but he got the most magnificent ride today, it’s such a thrill. Newmarket’s 2000 Guineas normally is the best group 1 of the year and we had to hold that up having been beaten in Ireland. He got the most magnificent ride and it’s fair to say he is the best 3-year-old colt in Europe.”
Jockey Frankie Dettori was thrilled saying, “Everything fell into plan and I got first run on the other two. Hugo was ultra-nervous today, but the horse redeemed himself here. We had a few excuses in Ireland, but there was nowhere to hide today.”
Hugo Palmer said of the July 27 G1 Sussex Stakes bound hero, “It was a tough challenge, but he’s the 2000 Guineas winner and everyone knows there isn’t a better pilot round here than Frankie.”
The Gurkha’s trainer Aidan O’Brien said, “He ran very well. He travelled well and quickened well. Frankie got a good position up front with no interference. We’re looking forward to running our horse next time. He can step up in trip if he wants. I don’t think he needs to but we’ll see.”
Veteran trainer Kevin Prendergast said of Awtaad, “He ran a good race, but it wasn’t his day and the best horse won. We’ll have another day. I’ve nothing in mind for him, really. We’ll get him home, talk to the boss and see what he wants to do.”
In the days opening race, the American wonder-mare Tepin stamped her class all over the field in the opening race, the Queen Anne Stakes over a mile. Having to overcome travelling across the Atlantic, lack of her usual nasal strip, Lasik and the straight mile instead of the usual turns in US racing, she dominated the race and finished in style to beat joint-favourite Belardo by a comfortable half a length with 20/1 outside Lightening Spear a length and a quarter further back in third.
The win fully justified her owner Robert E Masterson’s decision to bring her to the Royal meeting.
“The mare’s the best thing in the world. No drugs, no nasal strip, just magnificent,” said Masterson. “She performed magnificently. She had a lot of things to overcome for the first time and she just did it.”
Masterson also found time to add to his racing string as he was in action at last night’s Goffs London Sale, buying Newmarket handicap winner Ikerrin Road for £160,000.
Julien Leparoux, the winning jockey, told Racing UK: “She had a lot to prove. In America she does it always very nicely, but it’s a big challenge today to come here. It’s away from home for us and she’s proved she can do it and that was awesome.”
“It was pretty soft. I walked it before the races and I thought it was soft but not too bad, but when you’re on the horses you go pretty deep in there.”
“It’s amazing, a dream come true,” he said. “I’ve been watching the Royal Ascot races every year and just to be here. It was always a dream to come here, but to come here with a chance and win the race is even better. She broke sharp, I was not experienced of running straight so I didn’t know what to expect, but I just said patient.”
Winning trainer Mark Casse said: “There were a lot of things stacked against today but in the end her greatness prevailed. A lot of people in the United States will be delighted with this result. I have to tip my hat to Robert Masterson, he was a true sportsman who encouraged us to come. We trained her without Lasix and all the things she was accustomed to and we felt that she handled that fine.”
“She thought she was over here on vacation and then before the race she realised that she had to work. She will be fine, go back and relax. She is just a remarkable horse. Julien Leparoux hit her a couple of times which he usually doesn’t have to so I was just waiting for the wire to come.”
“Thanks to everybody. They have all been so kind and it has just been a first class experience. We truly appreciate it. Everyone has been just wonderful with us. It is something to remember. I couldn’t even dream anything like this. To be here and run at the most remarkable place I have ever been and actually have a winner here with a great horse like Tepin, I mean what can I say, it is so special.”
In the Kings Stand Stakes over 5 furlongs Profitable made it three straight group wins, and a first group 1 after beating Cotai Glory by a neck under Alan Kirby.
Trained by Clive Cox the four year-old is having a wonderful season. He won the group 3 Palace House Stakes at Newmarket before beating Mecca’s Angel in the group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock. The sky’s the limit for the son of Invincible Spirit.
Jockey Alan Kirby was in tears after Profitable’s win,”He’s the best five furlong horse I’ve ridden. His cruising speed is phenomenal, I’m delighted for everyone.”
“I know my mum’s watching, and she’d be so proud. All dad wanted to do was see me ride a group 1 winner, but he’s missed them all. I’d like to thank my girlfriend as well, it’s a big day for her. She gave birth a couple of hours ago, she’s had a baby boy. It’s good all round.”
Elsewhere Aidan O’Brien won the two year-old Coventry Stakes for an eighth time, with the Ryan Moore ridden Caravaggio. The Colt was very impressive and is quoted at just 4/1 for next year’s 2000 Guineas.
Aidan O’Brien admitted afterwards that he was worried about the soft ground before the race, “We were worried that he was so quick that we maybe should have had him in the Norfolk when the ground got so soft because he is very very rapid at home. When a horse is that quick you are never sure that they are going to last out over six in soft ground but, he got it and he got it well.”
Jennies Jewel made all to win the 2 mile 4 furlong Ascot Stakes Handucap under Ronan Whelan. Whelan dictated the pace throughout, and the 9 year-old mare was never headed, holding on by a neck from the fast finishing outsider Qewy.
In the final race of the day, the two year-old Windsor Castle Stakes, the John Gosden trained Ardad was a very good winner beating Savannah’s Dream by three and a half lengths.