Queen Olly puts down Royal Ascot marker on York debut

Queen Olly earned herself a place on trainer David Loughnane’s Royal Ascot team with a clear-cut debut victory in the Frank Whittle Partnership ebfstallions.com Maiden at York.

The Shropshire handler has clutch of high-class juvenile fillies this term, as evidenced by the recent Chester and Ascot victories of Absolutelyflawless and Omniqueen.

Carrying the same Amo Racing silks as the latter, €300,000 purchase Queen Olly was seemingly well fancied to strike gold on the Knavesmire as the 11-4 favourite and got the job done in fine style.

After being given time to find her feet by Rossa Ryan, the daughter of No Nay Never moved stylishly into contention before kicking three and a half lengths clear of Catch The Paddy.

Asked if he was feeling the pressure given the winner’s hefty price tag, Loughnane said: “We’ve had more expensive juveniles run this year so not on that front, if I felt pressure it was because I felt she was the nicest we had.

“I don’t really feel pressure. We make an assessment of them and they have to go and prove it’s right. Thankfully she has, they don’t always but she’s done it 10-fold.

“She’s still a bit green but she had to muscle her way out of a tricky spot, she hit the front, pricked her ears and didn’t really do a lot but Rossa said to her ‘we’ve got to put this to bed’ and she took a fair bit of pulling up.

“I said the first day I sat on her she was a Royal Ascot filly and she’s an Albany filly to me, all day long. She’s out of a Galileo mare so she could be better over seven furlongs going forward, but Royal Ascot was what we had in mind and I think she’s proved she’s good enough.”

Fine Wine and Jack Duern in full flight at York
Fine Wine and Jack Duern in full flight at York (Tim Goode/PA)

Fine Wine is clearly maturing as his name suggests judged on the way he made every yard of the running in the Paddy Power ‘Making Flat Less Flat’ Handicap.

The Scott Dixon-trained five-year-old was having his 17th run since October and was registering his fifth win in that time, showing his rivals a clean pair of heels.

Despite only running at Hamilton on Sunday, Fine Wine produced a career-best effort and bounced out of the stalls under Jack Duern.

At the head of affairs throughout, he may have looked a sitting duck at halfway but once Duern asked him a question Fine Wine picked up and scooted clear, taking lengths out of some good handicap sprinters.

The 5-1 chance beat Raasel by three lengths, a huge margin in such a race, with Good Effort a short-head back in third.

“That was quite impressive really,” said Dixon.

“There was definitely a few worries about running him back so quick. He’s always sore the day after he runs and I had no intention of declaring him really, but I trotted him up on the morning of declarations and he was like like a dressage horse.

“I thought we should declare and he’s produced what is by far his most impressive performance to date.

“The Dash (at Epsom) is the next target. We’ve been an unlucky second and third in the race before, I’d love to win it and I’ve always thought Fine Wine would be a Dash horse.

“I think we’ll go straight there. He deserves a couple of weeks off.”

Tim Easterby rarely leaves a big York meeting without a winner and Cruyff Turn made sure that would be the case once again with a game success in the Paddy Power Hambleton Handicap.

Successful at the Ebor meeting in August, the 8-1 winner was sat in the perfect position just behind the pace-setting Lion Tower.

Cruyff Turn just holds off Brunch
Cruyff Turn just holds off Brunch (noseband)

David Allan asked him to quicken entering the final furlong but he failed to put the race completely to bed and top-weight Brunch came from off the pace to throw down a sustained challenge, with Cruyff Turn holding on by a head.

Easterby said: “That was brilliant, he’s a super horse and galloped out well.

“He got knocked over a bit at Thirsk in the Hunt Cup and was taken on early on so it didn’t go to plan, but it’s come off today.

“We’ll aim for the Ebor meeting back here. I’m not sure where we’ll go between now and then. This was one of the plans today so we’ll just work away.”

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