ASCOT, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND – Day One of Royal Ascot is in the books after Frankie Dettori recorded win his 59th victory overall at the Royal Meeting. 2018 is the first year that features Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races at Royal Ascot, and it didn’t disappoint, as the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes winner scored a 33-1 upset! See the full day’s recap below:
G1 Queen Anne Stakes
Accidental Agent‘s victory in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes was a first Group 1 and a first Royal Ascot triumph for trainer Eve Johnson Houghton. The Queen Anne is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event that gave Accidental Agent an all-expenses-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
The 4-year-old, bred by Johnson Houghton’s mother Gaie, was a surprise 33-1 winner that came late to beat the David O’Meara-trained Lord Glitters by a 1/2-length. He was a first Royal Ascot winner and a first Group 1 winner for jockey Charlie Bishop.
Johnson Houghton, whose father Fulke trained 10 Royal Ascot winners between 1965 and 1988, said: “Unbelievable! I still can’t believe it. I haven’t slept for two nights. I dreamt that he would be third. My mum bred Accidental Agent – we have got the mare in the field – but nobody wanted to buy him and we bought him back for eight grand.
“I thought I was tilting at windmills. I dreamt about finishing third, and then watching it, I said, ‘Oh my God, we are going to place.’
“The poor people sitting in front of me and my Mum – I apologise to them – they will definitely be deaf because there was an awful lot of screaming going on. It is just ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.
“You might need to man the lifeboats as there are a lot of tears! Group 1 winner… I’ve never trained a Royal Ascot winner, let alone a Group 1 winner at Royal Ascot!
“And my mother bred him. What a legend she is – I’m so proud of her. And luckily, I had a tiny bit each-way at 50/1 to pay for the party – come on!
“He loves Ascot and had a chance. He is the first foal out of the mare (Roodle) by Delegator. No one wanted him. It’s great – something unbelievably, ridiculously that I dreamt of. I can’t believe it has happened, and for it to happen for my Mum is incredible. The horse is named after my grandfather, John Goldsmith, who wrote the book (Accidental Agent: Behind Enemy Lines with the French Resistance) and was in the SOE (Special Operations Executive) and an incredibly brave man. He was a trainer, as well.
“This horse takes so much getting ready and getting fit. I knew he wasn’t fully fit first time out (when third in a Listed race at Ascot in May), and then second time out (in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury), we just had tiny setbacks. I did say to Mum, ‘Whatever happens, I have got him here as well as he can be. He is the best horse he can be. If he’s good enough, he’s good enough; if he’s not, he’s not.’
“Charlie (Bishop) and the horse have grown together. I said, ‘Just go and enjoy it’, and he said that he was going to, so I said could he please make sure I did, too. He certainly did.”
Gaie Johnson Houghton added “I just can’t believe it. I am thrilled. Eve knew she had Accidental Agent as well as he has ever been. It is the first time she has got him to a race this year with a clear run. We had little hiccups on the way to the others. I own and bred Eve’s first Royal Ascot winner! Doesn’t it sound wonderful? It is what dreams are made of.”
G2 Coventry Stakes
Newmarket trainer John Gosden registered his 44th winner at the Royal Meeting after Calyx justified the hype and 2-1 favoritism to provide his sire Kingman, also trained by Gosden, with a first Group success in the G2 Coventry Stakes.
Ridden by Frankie Dettori, recording his 57th triumph at Royal Ascot, the 2-year-old took up the lead in isolation towards the stands’ side rail and kept on well in the closing stages of the 6-furlong contest to score by a length from the fast-finishing Advertise, trained by Martyn Meade, in second.
Gosden was effusive in his praise of Calyx following the race, describing the colt as “a horse that makes you get up in the morning.” Calyx made his debut just 10 days ago when winning at Newmarket by 5 lengths under Robert Havlin.
Gosden said: “Calyx is very talented. His father was exceptionally talented and Calyx has all of those attributes. I think the high draw might not be the best draw. In the Queen Anne (Stakes, one race earlier), low numbers were first, second, and third. The high draw was a disadvantage and I couldn’t believe that Calyx hung on like he did. It was a tough ordeal for him to race on his own on just his second start. If he had horses to race with him, I think that would have been better. It was a big achievement for him to win having raced on his own, and he is worth more than the winning margin of a length, to say the least.
“We’ve won this race before, but he does make you get up in the morning. Calyx has had to race on his own for the last 2 furlongs with a huge crowd screaming. That is a big ordeal for him and I think he did amazingly to win. I could have easily seen him getting distracted with nothing to race with.
“Frankie said, ‘I have to go now, there is nothing carrying me into the race, I have got to go.’ In that respect, it was marvelous, and he is probably value for more than the winning distance. Calyx is a bit of show-off. I had to give him a bit of time. His father never ran until July, whereas this boy has been out in June.”
Asked if Calyx is a 2000 Guineas horse, Gosden added: “I don’t see why not. He is rateable and was relaxed enough early, but at the moment, let’s see if we can win a Prix Morny with him and then we will think about stepping up a bit later on. We’ll freshen him up and go for the Prix Morny. He has done a lot of racing in 10 days.
“He has got a good bit of scope and is a lovely horse to be around. He is a bit full of himself, but I was just very impressed that he could take the running up because nothing was left on his side.
“I don’t put Frankie on 2-year-olds first time out ahead of Royal Ascot, as I did it to him last year at Yarmouth and he injured his shoulder and missed this meeting. He’s ridden him at home, but just not on his debut!”
G1 King’s Stand Stakes
Fresh from the success of Masar in the Investec Derby, owner Godolphin, trainer Charlie Appleby, and jockey William Buick teamed up to land the G1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot with 6-1 shot Blue Point.
The 4-year-old son of Shamardal traveled kindly throughout the 5-furlong contest and ran on strongly in the closing stages to score by a length and 3/4 from Battaash, trained by Charlie Hills, who had made the running.
Blue Point finished third in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at the 2017 Royal Meeting but was a disappointing ninth in his latest start at Sha Tin, Hong Kong, in the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize in April.
Appleby, registering his fifth success at the Royal Meeting, said: “Full credit has to go to the team at home who have done a fantastic job with Blue Point and getting him back to where he is. I couldn’t have been happier with his preparation in the last two weeks and I felt he was back at a level where he could compete after he did a great piece of work the other week.
“To have a Derby winner and then have a winner at Royal Ascot is great and coming into today, I don’t think I could have had Blue Point in any better nick. Sheikh Mohammed is a great man and coming into today, there was no pressure on us following Epsom as he just wanted to enjoy the week.
“I think the stiff five furlongs and strong pace has suited him here. I have always thought a lot of this horse and he ran really well in the Commonwealth Cup last year. For whatever reason, he brings his A game here. I was delighted with him at the start of the year in Dubai and whilst things didn’t materialise on Dubai World Cup night, we went on to learn a lot in Hong Kong and taught us a few matters. The horse had a torrid time on his way back from Hong Kong, but we gave him a nice break after that and I’m delighted with him.”
Sheikh Mohammed, Godolphin’s owner, said: “Blue Point was following the fast pace and was travelling very well. He hit the rise and gave more. I think that he is a very good horse. We raced him in Dubai and he was sweating very much but today he was very, very good. Charlie has been with us for a long time and he knew what we want – we always talk to each other about things. William is a very good jockey. They are two very good people. After Masar and the Derby, we are taking it very easy. We are enjoying ourselves and Royal Ascot – whoever wins, we will clap for them. We are relaxing now, but we have some ammunition for the rest of the week.”
G1 St James’s Palace Stakes
Trainer John Gosden’s St James’s Palace Stakes victory with Without Parole was his 45th Royal Ascot winner, his second in the mile Group One race for 3-year-olds (Kingman took it in 2014) and his second of the day, following Calyx’s G1 Coventry Stakes success.
Without Parole, a son of Frankel and ridden by Frankie Dettori, was the 9-4 favorite and beat the fast-finishing Gustav Klimt by a 1/2-length. He is owned and bred by John and Tanya Gunther, who bred the American Triple Crown winner Justify.
Gosden said: “US Navy Flag had gone, and Frankie said, ‘I had to go after him – I was frightened he had got 3 lengths, and in the end, I went a bit soon’. Then, of course, with Aidan (trainer of both US Navy Flag and Gustav Klimt), there is another arrow at your back – there always is another arrow.
“But look, Without Parole is a grand horse. There were no hiding places in that race. It was proper, proper Group One pace. I think he is still on the up and still learning. At the moment, he has a bigger middle than me, which is not a good thing in a racehorse!
“I think he could stay at a mile or go up. I think he was green on the bend and Frankie was having to say, ‘come on old boy, come on old boy’. He’s so lazy at home. I’ve never seen a horse eat and sleep like it, which is a great, great thing in a racehorse. I think he will improve, he’ll get sharper and I think he will get a little further too.”
Owner/breeder John Gunther said: “It is a dream come true. In all the 20 years I have been coming to Royal Ascot, my dream was just to have a horse run at Royal Ascot. Then we start in a Group One and do it; I don’t know what to say.
“This does mean more (than breeding Justify) and always will. This was the most important and means everything to me. To be able to mate the mare to Frankel and Juddmonte giving me that nomination even though the mare was unproven. To go through all that and then watch Without Parole being raised as a yearling was so special.
“The mare had not proven herself but, after we bred her to Frankel, she got her G1 winner (Tamarkuz) and proved herself. Juddmonte allowing me to breed that mare to Frankel meant everything, believe me, because I love Frankel so much.
“John Gosden and Frankie. What a team! They are unbelievable.”
Ireland’s champion Jump trainer Willie Mullins saddled his sixth Royal Ascot winner, and his fourth in the Ascot Handicap, when Lagostovegas won the 2018 running of the handicap.
The 6-year-old mare, a 10-1 shot carrying the colors of owner John Donohue, beat Dubawi Fifty from Karen Mclintock’s stable by a length, and that pair were followed home by three more Mullins-trained runners, with Stratum in third, Chelkar in fourth, and his fellow joint-favorite, Whiskey Sour, in fifth.
Lagostovegas is not entered in Saturday’s Queen Alexandra Stakes, and she might not have been at Royal Ascot today had Donohue’s phone call to Mullins not convinced the trainer it was not up for discussion. Mullins said: “She had probably done the fastest work of the five ahead of the race, and that made me doubt whether she would get the trip. I spoke to John and expressed my doubts about running, but he said his wife and two daughters were in town shopping for outfits to wear, so I said, ‘John, I’ll see you on Tuesday’.
“That is why the mare is here – you could say the owner was keen to come. However, it looked a slow gallop and the pace-setter (Dubawi Fifty) finished second, which suggested it wasn’t a great pace, so it played into her hands.
“Stratum was caught wide and was given a terrific ride by Robert (Winston) from that position, while Chelkar was very free with Ryan (Moore) and used himself up too much, but both horses were staying on at the line. They will have to win handicaps each to get into the top handicaps, but I’m not too worried about going back to jumping for any of them. If they can pay their way on the Flat, that is what they will do, and now there is more money in staying races, we will try to capitalise.
“After Punchestown, we look at which horses could run in France, which ones could go on the Flat, and which ones to turn out to grass. The Flat-bred ones are fairly obvious and so we take a chance on whether they will go on the ground. The owners of this mare love their racing and wherever we can find a race for her they will be keen to go.”
Listed Wolferton Stakes
Monarchs Glen‘s Wolferton Stakes win capped a fantastic day for trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori – it was their third success on the opening day of the 2018 Royal Meeting following victories with Calyx in the G2 Coventry Stakes and Without Parole in the G1 St James’s Palace Stakes.
Monarchs Glen, owned and bred by Khalid Abdullah, was also a second win for Frankel, also sire of Without Parole. The 3-year-old beat Euginio by a length at odds of 8-1.
Gosden, for whom it was a 46th Royal Ascot winner, said: “He’s run a great race. Frankie was tucked away in a pocket on the inside but got out – it isn’t easy to get out. He hasn’t lost it yet, the old boy!
“He’s a little bit wild, this horse. Everyone at home, my fantastic staff, has worked hard with this horse. It didn’t work out in Dubai (he finished 14th of 15 in the Group 1 Dubai Turf in March), but we came back and we’ve done lots of sensible stuff with him and haven’t overworked him.
“He could yet go up in grade as long as he settles enough in his mind. He wants to do everything in a hurry, but we’re thrilled with him today.”
“I was clear in my mind that if we didn’t win the Coventry and the St James’s Palace Stakes then it was going to be a very long week, because they were two horses just coming absolutely to perfection. All three are owner-breeder horses, and we are lucky enough to train them. It’s been a very fulfilling day.
“Tomorrow, we run Cracksman (in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes) – I’m very happy with him. Things didn’t quite go to plan at Epsom (he narrowly won the Group 1 Coronation Cup but had to work hard to do so), but the ground here is genuinely good to firm and we’re hopeful of a huge run.”
Source: Ascot Racecourse