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Ostilio overcomes Curiousity - ROYAL ASCOT

02/07/2018
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CHAMPION JOCKEY Silvestre de Sousa was at his brilliant best as he steered Ostilio to victory in the Britannia Stakes for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum. Having chased home St James’s Palace Stakes hero Without Parole on his penultimate outing before winning at Newmarket, Simon Crisford’s charge was among the market principals for this fiercely competitive handicap. The 3yo made a smart start over the straight mile and, after initially leading down the centre of the track, De Sousa tacked his mount across to grab the standside rail. It was clear some way from home that his rivals would struggle to close the gap and Ostilio passed the post with a handy advantage. Curiosity was second ahead of Magnificent and Desert Wind in third and fourth respectively.

“I’m just so thrilled. It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Crisford, who is in just his fourth season as a trainer. “I came here with Godolphin; we had have four favourites on the first day, second day, third day, we’d win two, be beaten in the other two, 65 odd winners at the highest level, but I have to say we never won a Britannia! “I’ve ticked that box now. Fantastic, and what a lovely horse. I thought the handicapper underrated him when he was second at Yarmouth to St James’s Palace winner Without Parole. Without wanting to put a curse on the horse I really fancied him and thought he would go well.”

Ostilio races for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, who has supported Crisford from the start. Crisford explained: “Our association goes back to the Dubawi days; Sheikh Mohammed Obaid bred Dubawi and raced him under the Godolphin umbrella. Hence when I started training he supported me. He’s been a great supporter. He’s always backed me.” It was to De Sousa’s advantage that retained rider Andrea Atzeni chose the Sheikh’s disappointing Sam Gold, but the Brazilian disobeyed orders, having been instructed to hold on to Ostilio and stalk, as the son of New Approach can be gassy. De Sousa, described by Crisford as ‘the greatest’ a proper, proper top international jockey’, said: “I changed my mind like I often do. He showed me a lot of speed and I chose to go to the rail to give him a bit of support. I was praying for the line and it came in time. He’s a nice horse but still a baby.”

Gosden staying star hits right notes to add another string to his bow

Frankie Dettori won a fifth Ascot Gold Cup and the 60th Royal Ascot race of his glittering career when Stradivarius scored as joint favourite in the week’s official highlight. Trained by John Gosden, the 4yo was stepping up to two and a half miles for the first time in his career. Torcedor led the field into the home straight ahead of Stradivarius, French challenger Vazirabad and 2016 Gold Cup hero Order Of St George, the other joint favourite, and it was Stradivarius who came home best. Stradivarius was, successfully, bidding for his second Royal Ascot success, having won the Queen’s Vase at last year’s meeting. He was beaten a length into third place by Order Of St George in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot last October, but a winning return in last month’s Yorkshire Cup suggested he could be an improved performer this season.

With Order Of St George under pressure a long way from home on this occasion and eventually finishing fourth, Stradivarius travelled strongly for much of the way and saw out the extra distance well to score by almost a length. Vazirabad just beat Torcedor to the runnerup spot by a head in a thrilling finish. Dettori said: “That’s 60 wins here, six Gold Cups and I’m only 47, in case you forget! “He was a lion today. He had to see off Order Of St George, Torcedor and then Vazirabad and in the end he took off; it went perfectly. “I come alive here, I love it. I think the crowd lifted him. The Gold Cup is the showcase of the week and to win it again, my first one for John Gosden, it’s great for the team.”

Wand just Magic in Ribblesdale

Magic Wand dominated her rivals in the Ribblesdale Stakes; Aidan O’Brien’s filly had beaten stablemate Forever Together in the Cheshire Oaks in May, but the tables were turned in the Oaks at Epsom three weeks before Ascot as Forever Together claimed Classic glory and Magic Wand finished only fourth. Back on a sound surface, Magic Wand proved an entirely different proposition in the hands of Ryan Moore, travelling strongly before powering clear in the home straight for an impressive four length victory. Godolphin’s Epsom Oaks second Wild Illusion, the favourite, had to make do with the runner-up spot once again with Sun Maiden third.

Horn blows in Hunting success

Ryan Moore rode his 50th winner at Royal Ascot when Hunting Horn dominated his rivals in the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes having previously finished a respectable sixth in the French Derby on his previous appearance. Moore settled Hunting Horn in midfield for much of the 1m2f journey before making his move rounding the home turn and the son of Camelot fairly sprinted up the straight to score by four and a half lengths. Moore said: “He ran a really good race in the French Derby and he has progressed with every start this year. The race went smoothly for him. He was there and had a look around, he wasn’t doing much in the last furlong. "He’s a progressive horse but obviously that was a big jump forward from anything he’d done before.” O’Brien added: “We’re delighted with him. He’s by Camelot, he travels well, quickens well and we thought a mile and a quarter would suit him.

“Ryan gave him a lovely ride. The lads who look after him at home were very happy with him so I couldn’t be happier with him. “He relaxes well and quickens, his dad was like that. When there’s a pace on, he’s happy and it was a nice, evenly run race. “He has a lot of options: he can step up to a mile and a half, you could have a look at an Eclipse, you could go to France or we could give him a little bit of time as well. "He’s been busy the last couple of weeks. I’m delighted for Ryan to get his 50th; he gave him a great ride and we’re delighted to have him on our horses.”

Shang: so good they named her thrice

Shang Shang Shang clung on grimly to provide Wesley Ward with another Royal Ascot success in the Norfolk Stakes. The ebullient American trainer had saddled nine previous winners at the showpiece fixture, including No Nay Never in the same race five years ago. Shang Shang Shang was the only filly in a ten strong field for this 5f Group Two, but bounced out of the stalls and was soon leading her male counterparts in the hands of Joel Rosario. One by one the US challenger saw off her rivals, but she needed the line badly in the final 100 yards and Pocket Dynamo lunged late to almost join her passing the post. The judge confirmed Shang Shang Shang had recorded a nose victory, with Land Force back in third.

Ward said of the winner: “To do this, with a filly, is quite unbelievable. I come here every year, but we were kinda scratching our heads for a few days and felt like we were back at the beginning and wondering if we were in the wrong place or not. “We had done all the planning just as before but it wasn’t coming through; thank God it did today. Barely! “I thought she had just done it, but you are never sure and I wanted to wait until the photo finish announcement before believing it.”

Finale produces a thriller

Baghdad claimed a narrow victory after a thrilling climax to the King George V Stakes, a 1m4f handicap for 3yos. One of six runners for trainer Mark Johnston among 18 who went to post, ridden by Andrea Atzeni, he was able to follow up his victory at York the previous month. Baghdad hit the front racing inside the final 2f before being strongly pressed by Corgi on the run to the line. First Eleven then flew home against the far rail to set up a three way finish, but Johnston’s charge clung on by a neck. Corgi beat First Eleven to second by a nose, with Cross Counter a couple of lengths further back in fourth. Johnston said: “Turning for home I think we had the first four! We said beforehand that Communique was the favourite and he looked like he was going to be the one to do it, but credit to Baghdad and Andrea, they stuck on dourly.

“I don’t believe in it when people say about the ‘typical Mark Johnston attitude’, but he’s a really tough horse and that was great. “I thought he was more exposed than some of my others, but obviously not.” Atzeni added: “We didn’t have a very good draw in 16 and I had to use him to get a good position and I ended up getting a good spot but he travelled beautifully and he’s very tough. “I was always holding the horse on my left, Corgi, and then I felt Frankie on my inside on First Eleven, but I thought I’d just held on. It’s great to get another winner.”

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07 Aug 2018
Issue Number: Issue 647
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