Prince of Johanne lifts Hunt Cup
Prince Of Johanne gave trainer Tom Tate his first victory of the season and first Royal Ascot success when he landed the Royal Hunt Cup by a decisive half length under Irish-born John Fahy on Wednesday.
The six-year-old has been a model of consistency throughout his career and finished last season with a thrilling success in the Cambridgeshire Handicap, before returning this year with a second to Fury at York in May.
The 16/1 winner came down the stand side to defeat Excellent Guest (33/1) by half a length. Don't Call Me(50/1) and Field Of Dream (66/1) finished third and fourth, a place ahead of previous Ascot winner Invisible Man (20/1).
Tate said of his winner: “He is a grand horse and he is a bit better over a mile. He showed a lot of speed to win over a mile and a furlong in the Cambridgeshire and his form is there. One of the pundits in the paper said that this double was last done in 1949, so that put a bit of a dampener on our hopes.
“He is a tough little horse and we are still finding out about him. He loves a strongly-run mile and he loves the fast ground. The horse loves doing his own thing and his rider John Fahy is very intuitive and goes with him - he is a very good rider.”
Fahy added: “I remembered last season I was enjoying watching these races at home. It means an awful lot for someone young like myself to get a winner here.
“The horse is very close to my heart. He has given me a Cambridgeshire winner and he has also given me a winner at Royal Ascot - I couldn’t tell you which one was better.
“A lot of the pace was on the far side and my lad likes to have a bit of space. When I won the Cambridgeshire on him, I kicked him in the belly very soon and I did the same today.
“I have to a big thanks to give to John Reid and Richard Quinn, who have helped me out so much. They have given me some of their secrets to riding here.
“This is a very important year for me because I lost my claim last season. Clive Cox has been very good to me along with my agent. Hopefully, it’s onwards and upwards.”
Fahy was suspended for seven days for his use of the whip on the winner, using it 12 times, though two of those strokes were discounted.
Trainer Tom Dascombe admitted to being “in a dream” following Ceiling Kitty’s Queen Mary Stakes success for owner Andrew Black and jockey Richard Kingscote.
Dascombe has enjoyed Black’s patronage since establishing his training operation, initially in Lambourn and continuing after he took up residence in Cheshire at a yard owned by footballer Michael Owen. This was Dascombe’s third royal meeting winner, and, having trained Brown Panther to score for Owen at the event last year, today’s victory completed a sweet double for the trainer - satisfyingly both horses were bred by their owners.
Dascombe also trained fourth-placed Upward Spiral (Johnny Murtagh), who was the more fancied of the pair. Following the race the trainer said: “This is all about Andrew Black, who has been an amazing supporter of me, and to have a Royal Ascot winner for him is incredible.
“It’s also great for Richard, who wasn’t given a choice of which filly to ride, but felt she not only had experience but was also as hard as nails. Richard is a really good jockey and a lovely lad.
“The other filly ran well too, but there was nothing on her side of the track to lead her - I think she is the better horse, but just not today.
“The main thing is Andrew Black owns the winner, which is so important. I don’t know what we’ll do now because it really doesn’t matter. She’s a Listed winner and now a Group winner who will retire to Andrew’s stud one day, and probably sooner rather than later. We’ll have to try her over six furlongs at some point, and she wasn’t stopping today.”
Black, co-founder of betting exchange Betfair, bred Ceiling Kitty and offered her at public auction last year when she failed to reach her reserve. He admitted to being “almost speechless”, but said: “She is a proper home bred, whose mother I claimed for £15,000. I knew this filly was good, so put half of her up on Betfair and they gave away four, one eighth shares in her for a year. I guess I didn’t know she was this good, but at least people are getting a smart horse for their money.”
Trainer Michael Bell was pleased with the effort of Hoyam to finish runner-up in the Queen Mary Stakes.
“It was a good run and Jamie (Spencer) was impressed and said the horse would get six furlongs,” said Bell. “It’s a shame she didn’t have time for another run before today. She’s a filly with a big future and the Cherry Hinton Stakes and Princess Margaret Stakes would both be possibles. I’ll see how quickly she comes out of this.”
The Richard Hannon-trained Hairy Rocket finished third. “She’s only tiny and there were no excuses but she’ll win something nice before the season is out. She looks like she’ll get six furlongs and I wouldn’t mind running her in the Cherry Hinton Stakes,” said Richard Hannon junior, assistant to his father.
Princess Haya of Jordan welcomed in a Royal Ascot winner when Joviality took the Windsor Forest Stakes in her colours.
The result was a tonic for trainer John Gosden and jockey William Buick who suffered when The Nile sustained a fatal injury on the first day of the meeting.
After Joviality had beaten the slow-starting Chachamaidee and Lay Time by a neck and a length, Gosden said: “She didn’t handle Epsom [when second on her previous start] and we’ve had to wait for her to come right in June, but she shows a lot of tenacity. I really respect the runner-up who is very fast, but I thought if we could be in the right place to make her come to us we might just outstay her. It was a thrilling performance.
“She’s capable of going a mile or a mile and a quarter so there are some exciting options ahead like the Falmouth Stakes [at Newmarket], the Nassau Stakes [at Glorious Goodwood] and the Prix de l’Opera [at Longchamp], but that is the elite end and there are some very smart fillies in France.
“We had a difficult day yesterday, but ours is a strange game and a game of vicissitudes.”
Gosden said: “Princess Haya is a top-class horsewoman and I suggested she should lead the filly in. She’s a consummate rider who competed in the Olympics and her husband, Sheikh Mohammed, has just won a 160-kilometre race in Italy over mountains, when none of us could ride for 16 kilometres. They both enjoy riding so it’s only natural they should be interested in their horses.”
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