Coronation Stakes (Group 1)

PORTA Fortuna (Donnacha O’Brien/Tom Marquand) was a decisive winner of the Albany Stakes here 12 months ago and proved her liking for Ascot with a stylish victory in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes over a mile, justifying strong and sustained market support that saw her sent off at 7/2 having been 7/1 the night before.

She led early, before tracking the pace set by Opera Singer (Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore), and the pair settled down to battle it out in the straight, with Opera Singer keeping on well, but the winner finding the better change of gear on the firm ground that suits her so well. She crossed the line a length to the good, with old rivals Ramatuelle (Christopher Head/Oisin Murphy) and Elmalka third and fourth.

Porta Fortuna shaped really well after an absence when second in the 1000 Guineas, splitting Elmalka and Ramatuelle, and she proved herself better than the bare result that day by turning the tables on the winner, and increasing her margin over Ramatuelle to a length and a half with the benefit of that run and with little doubt that the sounder surface was also a benefit.

Opera Singer also benefitted from a run in the Irish 1000 Guineas where she was third to Fallen Angel and the only shame about this contest was that Karl Burke’s Curragh winner was not in the field having been a surprise absentee at the confirmation stage.


It had, until this point, been a frustrating week for Marquand, placed on Maljoom, Big Evs, Doom, Perotto, and Lake Forest, but those near misses were forgotten in this moment of elation.

“She made it extremely easy,” said a grinning Marquand. “She’s such a cool customer. She had that near miss in the Guineas - she didn’t really show that much of a turn of foot that day, she looked like a grinder but on this flatter surface with a nice one to aim at she was electric.

“These rides are hard enough to come by, let alone to keep them and I’m very fortunate to be on board today. Donnacha’s family are woven into racing history but they are a young team, so to be on one for them is fantastic. Any Royal Ascot winner is good but ones like this are pretty special.

“She keeps improving,” said the winning trainer. “She’s so uncomplicated. She relaxes, she quickens, she stays, she tries. She’s a joy of a filly to have. I was happy the whole way, everything went to plan. It’s not too often you can say that. I’m delighted. I think all along she hasn’t got the credit she deserves. She’s never missed a beat. She’s incredibly sound and incredibly tough.”

Godmother grants Moore’s wishes

Albany Stakes (Group 3)

THE juvenile races at Ascot have thrown up some surprises, so punters will largely have been grateful that the Group 2 Albany Stakes went to 15/8 market leader Fairy Godmother (Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore), but she had to get her rider out of jail after Moore was thwarted several times as he tried to find racing room.

Forced eventually to switch wide of the whole field, Moore galvanised Fairy Godmother into a withering late run which took her past front-running stablemate Heavens Gate (Wayne Lordan) late in the day to gain the prize by three-quarters of a length from another strong finisher in Simmering (Ollie Sangster/Jamie Spencer) who also had to switch left to get a clear run but couldn’t match the winner’s dazzling turn of foot.

Simmering edged second by a neck from Heavens Gate with the trio the best part of three lengths clear of the field.

Magical performance

The winning rider was typically self-deprecating in his assessment, saying: “I gave Fairy Godmother an impossible task and she got me out of a hole. It’s incredible that she was able to win from that position, so all credit to her. She is a very good filly.

“Down at the start she looked different class. She suggested that before she ran, and when she won last time. Today, that was a big performance.”

On the performance and future plans for Fairy Godmother, Aidan O’Brien said: “We knew Ryan was going to produce her late and we knew she had a devastating turn of foot because she showed it the last day – what she did then was very rare, but to come up another level and do it here is unbelievable.

“Ryan said he thought she was going to be a Moyglare filly, so seven would be no problem for her this year. She’s obviously exceptional. Our other filly, Heavens Gate, ran a stormer. We thought she was a good filly.”

Inisherin backs up Sandy Lane success

Commonwealth Cup (Group 1)

THE decision to supplement Inisherin (Kevin Ryan/Tom Eaves) for the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup proved a wise one on two counts with owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid’s other runner Elite Status a late withdrawal after knocking a joint, and the “supersub” did the job in fine style, backing up his impressive win in the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock with an even more striking performance to blitz his rivals for finishing speed.

Drawn in stall one, Inisherin didn’t have the luxury of cover, but Tom Eaves did a good job of tacking over with the others to the centre of the track while keeping his mount nicely in hand, whereas main market rival Jasour got very lit up in the early stages.

Asking the 9/4 favourite for his full effort with a quarter of a mile to run, Eaves soon had Inisherin in front and with the race at his mercy, running out a very comfortable two and a quarter-length winner. Jasour ran on to give chase inside the final furlong, but found his early exertions blunting his finishing effort, and he was caught close home by Lake Forest (William Haggas/Tom Marquand) and beaten a head for second.

Doubled up

This was a second winner of the week for the owner after Rosallion’s success in the St James’s Palace Stakes and a second winner all told for Tom Eaves at the prestigious meeting, some 16 years after winning the Wokingham on Big Timer for Linda Perratt.

Ryan said: “Inisherin improved from Haydock. I think he is just going to get quicker and better at this job. He’s a joy to train, an absolute legend. It was a very easy watch. It is very different ground than how it was at Haydock, which always makes you nervous, but.…he hardly bends his knees.”

“He is a great owner to have,” Ryan said of Sheikh Mohammed Obaid. “He’s a pleasure to train for. He takes the pressure off you. I put the pressure on myself. Either way, I’m going to feel under pressure. But if on these occasions you don’t feel like that, then what are you in it for?”

Comment: These fillies are on fire

FRIDAY at Ascot was a day for the fillies to shine, and they did their part in the sunshine. Fairy Godmother had everything go wrong for her in the Albany Stakes but must be a very special filly to have come around the field and won from a poor position – a point underlined by the way she came past Simmering, who herself was finishing to some effect under Jamie hold-up king Spencer. I’d give a penny for his thoughts as the favourite whooshed past unexpectedly, although I doubt they’d be printable!

Fairy Godmother was following in the footsteps of Porta Fortuna in winning the Albany and connections will hope she can turn out as well as Donnacha O’Brien’s gorgeous filly, who went agonisingly close to winning the 1000 Guineas and gained deserved revenge by beating another exciting type in Opera Singer to land the fillies’ feature, the Coronation Stakes. Porta Fortuna danced every dance last year, winning the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes before running out of her skin in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf.

Positively thriving

The idea that a tough campaign as a juvenile can spoil a filly is one which has never washed with me, and the daughter of Caravaggio – who has plenty of her sire about her – has positively thrived on a busy campaign. Her only weakness is that soft ground nullifies her brilliant turn of foot, but we should see plenty more of her at the top table if the weather gods behave.

She has that rare blend of brilliance and thorough likeability and I’ve no doubt that she can prove a match for the older mares, with an entry in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting offering the prospect of a meeting with Running Lion and Laurel, who dominated the Duke of Cambridge Stakes earlier at this meeting. With Opera Singer in there too, it could be a mouth-watering contest. Bring on the summer!