Olympic Glory spreadeagled his rivals to win the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot and almost certainly seal the trainers’ championship for veteran handler Richard Hannon.
Wearing blinkers for the first time, the 11-2 chance burst through a gap for Richard Hughes over a furlong out and powered clear to win by three and a quarter lengths.
The supplemented Top Notch Tonto ran a superb race to finish second, easily justifying Brian Ellison’s decision to persuade owner Keith Brown to put up the �70,000 fee, while Aidan O’Brien’s Kingsbarns also ran a blinder in third. Dawn Approach, who was having his last race, finished fourth.
Hannon said: “I spoke to the Queen this morning and she said she was presenting the trophy for the QEII, so I said, ‘I’ll see you later!’. It’s funny how it’s worked out. It’s great. He’s a very good horse, this. The French race (Prix du Moulin) turned out a bit of a mess, but he ran a hell of a race in the Jacques le Marois.
“He likes a bit of a cut in the ground. We put a pair of blinkers of him at home and Hughesie settled him nicely. They certainly helped. He stays in training next year. That will probably be it for him this year.”
Hughes added: “We always believed in him – he just travelled so well in that soft ground. Hopefully that’s sealed it (the championship) for the boss. He’s a fabulous trainer who has been doing it all his life, but it’s really only in the last five years he’s been getting these really good horses – imagine if he was getting them 20 years ago.”
Brian Ellison was understandably delighted with the runner-up, saying: “That was no fluke, he took the race by the scruff of the neck – I just wish they hadn’t put blinkers on the winner!
“Every day I was hoping it would rain. He’s a real good horse on that ground. I know I can train anything – I have done for a long time – we just need the horses. I can’t believe how much he has improved and we’ll never run him again unless it’s soft ground.
“He’ll have a break now. I did suggest going for the dirt race at the Breeders’ Cup, because the mother had run on that surface, but it was going to cost �100,000 so we decided to pay �70,000 and come here. I wish I’d put blinkers on him now. I’m looking forward to next year with cut in the ground, but I think he could go well on dirt.”
O’Brien said of Kingsbarns: “That will probably be it for this season. He was our best horse last year but had lots of problems in the spring. He’ll be some horse next year.”
Jim Bolger, who bred and trained the 2000 Guineas winner Dawn Approach, said: “Kevin (Manning, jockey) reported that when he let him go he just floundered in the ground. He is leaving me during the week and of course I will miss him.”
Simon Crisford, racing manager for owners Godolphin, added: “The ground was against him, which blunted his turn of foot, but he has won four of the best Group One races in our calender, so his record is fantastic. He is now retiring to Kildangan Stud and we are very much looking forward to seeing his progeny in the future.”Read the rest of the story British Horseracing Authority News Headlines