G2 Queen Mary Stakes
The John Quinn-trained 25-1 shot Signora Cabello swooped late under Oisin Murphy to capture the first race on Day 2 of Royal Ascot, the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes.
The 2-year-old daughter of Camacho travelled well throughout the 5-furlong contest and ran on strongly in the closing stages to score by a head from the Aidan O’Brien-trained Gossamer Wings (25-1) in second, with the same distance back to the well-supported Shades Of Blue (5-1), trained by Clive Cox, in third.
Quinn, registering his third victory at the Royal Meeting, was delighted with the filly’s performance on the back of a Listed victory at York last time out.
The North Yorkshire handler said: “Signora Cabello was a huge price given how on top she was at the line at York last time out (won by 1 1/4 lengths). She didn’t know what price she was and all she’s done is improve all along.
“Signora Cabello is very laid back but she does help you. Even today, she was very relaxed. She has a very good mind and she has plenty of ability.
“We thought she would finish in the top six and she was in good nick coming into the race – she did the rest.”
Signora Cabello was originally owned by the Zen Racing partnership made up of Ross Sankey and Chris Edwards, who bought the filly at Book 3 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale for 20,000 guineas.
However, the pair now own 25% of Quinn’s charge following Phoenix Thoroughbred’s decision to snap up a 75% stake in her.
Discussing the filly’s ownership, Quinn said: “Phoenix Thoroughbreds enquired about the filly two weeks ago and bought her a week ago.
“Ross and Chris have a 25% stake now and are currently in Barbados watching the cricket! This is the first horse we have bought for them and my son Sean (a bloodstock agent) bought the filly for them at Newmarket as he loved the pedigree.
“Signora Cabello is in everything, but we’ll see how she comes out of this before making a definitive plan.”
G2 Queen’s Vase
Aidan O’Brien completely dominated the Group 2 Queen’s Vase, taking the first three places with Kew Gardens, Southern France, and Nelson. It was the Irish trainer’s 62nd Royal Ascot winner, his sixth victory in the Queen’s Vase, and his first success of the 2018 Royal Meeting for the Coolmore conglomerate of Derek Smith, Mrs. John Magnier, and Michael Tabor.
Kew Gardens, a son of Galileo, won easily by 4 1/2 lengths at odds of 10-3. He was ridden by Ryan Moore, for whom it was a 49th Royal Meeting triumph.
O’Brien said: “We always thought Kew Gardens would stay, and he loves fast ground. We were very happy with him all the time and, even though he was a bit disappointing in Epsom (he was ninth of 12 in the Derby), we have been very happy with him since then.
“Donnacha (O’Brien’s younger son, a jockey) thought after riding him in Epsom that maybe we rode him too forward and that taking your time on him a bit more would suit him. Ryan did that today and it worked out lovely.
“I am delighted with the other two. It was Nelson’s first run back for a long time while Southern France is still a big baby who is going to improve a lot as the year goes on. We thought all three would stay beyond a mile and a half – that’s what they are bred to do, really.
“Kew Gardens can do a lot things. He can go back for the Irish Derby or have a little rest and be trained for the St Leger. The St Leger is a long way away but in the autumn it would be a lovely race for him. But he came out of Epsom very well and if he comes out of this as well, he could well go for the Irish Derby; it’s always a race we consider with these horses. We’ll see how he is.”
G2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes
Newmarket trainer Marco Botti trained his first Royal Ascot winner when Aljazzi turned the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes into a procession.
The result was a triumph for the 5-year-old mare’s owners/breeders, Imad Al Sagar and Saleh Al Homaizi, who raced Investec Derby winner Authorized, and also for their racing manager and breeding advisor Tony Nerses, who bought the filly’s granddam, Majestic Sakeena, at the December Sale 12 years ago.
Aljazzi (9-2), by Shamardal, beat Tribute Act (10-1) and Wilamina (11-2) by 3 3/4 of a length and a neck, becoming another Royal Ascot winner for in-form jockey William Buick, who has now ridden a career total of 22 winners at the meeting.
Botti said: “We have been so close here so many times with horses like Dandino, Excelebration and Euro Charline and it is just nice to finally get one on the board. I am really delighted, and I have to thank the owners for keeping Aljazzi in training.
“William gave her a great ride and she showed a good turn of foot. Last year, she came here as an outsider (finished second at 40-1), whereas today she was a shorter price. She winds herself up a bit before races and takes a little bit out of herself so we tend to space her races out. This year the plan was to have one run at Sandown and then to come straight here. Everything went to plan.
“There is a month until the Falmouth Stakes (run at Newmarket’s July Course) and I would think that will fit in very well. This is why we wake up in the morning, we all want to have winners here. It is job done and I am really pleased for everybody.”
Al Sagar said: “We now know the family well and they all flourish with age – she has done really well from four to five. At one point in time, we thought she might be good enough for the 1000 Guineas, but after that race we realised she wasn’t quite ready.”
Nerses said: “She’s a very special mare. Her dam is now in foal to another very good horse we owned, Decorated Knight, and she has a Golden Horn foal at foot.”
G1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes
Sir Michael Stoute became the winning-most trainer at Royal Ascot after Poet’s Word (11-2) provided the Newmarket trainer with his 76th victory at the Royal Meeting, getting the better of 2-5 favorite Cracksman in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
Ridden by James Doyle, Poet’s Word stalked Cracksman in the early stages of the 10-furlong contest and unleashed a potent turn of foot in the straight to score comfortably by 2 1/4 lengths.
Stoute, who trained his first Royal Ascot winner back in 1977 with Etienne Gerard in the Jersey Stakes, was tied on 75 victories at the Royal Meeting with the late Sir Henry Cecil.
Discussing the achievement, Stoute said: “It is relief because we were stuck on 75 last year. As I said the other night, Henry did most of his training when it was a four-day meeting, so I have had an advantage. Nobody respected him greater than I did as a trainer.
“Cracksman beat Poet’s Word a long way here last time (in the Champion Stakes). Maybe Cracksman is not at his very best now but we have beaten the others comprehensively.
“Poet’s Word is a very consistent, brave, sound horse. That’s what he is. A huge well done to all the staff because they have put a lot of work into a horse like this.
“I was delighted for Poet’s Word. He’s been in at the deep-end in G1s and has been running well in them, so it’s great for him to win one.
“I think Royal Ascot is very special to any trainer. We have been very lucky in that we have brought a lot of nice horses here over the years.
“We’re very glad it’s happened and it’s great for all the staff.
The G1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” contest, with Poet’s Word earning an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf through the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of 82 stakes races, whose winners receive automatic starting positons and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, on November 2-3.
The G1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes also forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap)
Trainer David Marnane struggled to contain his emotions after Settle For Bay won the Royal Hunt Cup; it was only his second-ever Royal Ascot success (after Dandy Boy’s 2012 Wokingham Handicap victory) and Settle For Bay overcame a broken pelvis to win.
The Rio De La Plata 4-year-old was ridden by Billy Lee and beat Afaak by 2 1/4 lengths at 16-1 in the highly-competitive mile handicap.
“We knew all the way through last year that he was this sort of class; he progressed all along,” said Marnane. “It’s one thing to have it (class), another to get him here. He broke his pelvis last year, taking a step out of the stalls on his second run as a 3-year-old, so it is a remarkable recovery. Thankfully the vets have done a great job.
“We knew he was a Group horse. You might have 10lb (in hand) but sometimes you need more.We’ve had this race in mind for a long time, and it’s come off. He’s won and we are delighted. When you train 20 horses, and you’ve won a Wokingham and now a Royal Hunt Cup, it’s very special.”
G3 Jersey Stakes
No sooner had Sir Michael Stoute created a new record by training a total of 76 winners at Royal Ascot with Poet’s Word’s G1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes victory than he took the crown further out of his rivals’ reach with a 77th success.
This came courtesy of Expert Eye, ridden by James McDonald, who took the 7-furlong Group 3 Jersey Stakes impressively by 4 1/2 lengths from Society Power.
Expert Eye, a son of Acclamation, was odds-on favourite for the G1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes last autumn after winning the G2 Qatar Vintage Stakes at Goodwood by 4 1/2 lengths, but flopped at Newmarket, finishing ninth of nine behind US Navy Flag. After an encouraging second in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury in April, he could only finish 10th in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Stoute said: “This horse was such a good 2-year-old and then things went wrong in the Dewhurst. I am just so thrilled to see him back in this sort of form.
“It’s very pleasing; a lot of work has gone into this horse, by James Savage, my head man, who rides him out every morning, in particular, and a lot of stalls work has been done with Gary Witheford and his son. That was his problem, going down – that’s what happened in the Dewhurst; he went down on the floor when the gate opened.
“I was happy today but I still hadn’t seen convincing homework like we did last year. But it doesn’t matter now, does it?
“He won’t be going back to the Rowley Mile (at Newmarket( again, for sure.
“It is great for the stable (breaking the winners’ record). Aidan O’Brien goes on and names everybody, but I haven’t got a brain as retentive as that, because it is great teamwork.”
Asked which of his 77 Royal Ascot winners had been his favourite, Stoute replied: “I’d have to say the first, Etienne Gerard in the 1977 Jersey Stakes. And Estimate was a great pleasure, winning the Gold Cup for The Queen in 2013, because she loves the race. And Shareef Dancer (winner of the King Edward VII Stakes in 1983) was very special because I was paid a lot of money for him and then things went wrong.”
Source: Ascot Racecourse