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ASCOT, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND – CLXX’s The Grand Visir fought through the sudden fog and marathon 2 1/2-mile distance to stay on for his first victory since returning to flat racing in Tuesday’s $115,000 Ascot Handicap at Ascot Racecourse.
Sent from his post at 25/1 odds stateside under Richard Kingscote while carrying the field’s top weight of 136 pounds, The Grand Visir settled toward the rear while Jukebox Jive sat up front for the opening 17 furlongs. Off the far turn, Mancini took first run at the leader and held it momentarily, but tipped out wide down the middle of the lane came a rallying The Grand Visir.
With just over 2 furlongs remaining, The Grand Visir held a slim lead over stablemate Time To Study, but the 7/2 stateside favorite (and the field’s lone filly) Buildmeupbuttercup was beginning to quickly gobble up ground from the back of the pack. Inside the final furlong, The Grand Visir dispatched of Time To Study, then fended off Buildmeupbuttercup’s attack to win by 1 3/4 lengths in a final time of 4:28.34.
“The Grand Visir settled beautifully and I never had to get after him round there,” Kingscote said. “I know it’s only June, but a winner at Royal Ascot makes a bad year a good year, so I’m pleased to get a winner on the board.”
Buildmeupbuttercup and Time To Study crossed in second and third, respectively. The rest of the field crossed thusly: Fun Mac, Coeur de Lion, Arctic Fire, Mancini, Batts Rock, Yabass, Not Never, Kerosin, Mengli Khan, Snow Falcon, Percy Street, Jukebox Jive, Gunnery, Cosmelli, Ulster, Mixboy, and The Cashel Man.
The Grand Visir’s win was his first since taking a 14 1/2-furlong flat event at Doncaster last October and improved his overall record to 14-5-0-0. The 5-year-old gelded son of Frankel, who made a pair of failed starts in chase events over the winter, has now earned $127,949 combined between his two careers.
“The hurdling career is not finished, but it is open to interpretation,” said trainer Ian Williams. “We ran him back on the flat at Newbury last month, and fortunately, he dropped a pound in the handicap, which enabled him to get in here, albeit carrying top weight. We weren’t sure he would stay the trip, but Richard gave him a lovely, patient ride, which enabled him to get into the race. Turning for home, I thought there was only two who were travelling well, The Grand Visir and Time To Study. The winner stayed all the way to the line, but Time To Study probably didn’t quite get the trip.”
The Grand Visir returned $28 to win and $4.80 to place, Buildmeupbuttercup brought back $5 to place, Time To Study paid $10 to place, and Fun Mac paid $4.40 to place.
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