Rising star Baaeed given Queen Elizabeth II engagement

Rising star Baaeed may take on title-holder The Revenant and Palace Pier among a stellar list of established top-class performers in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot.

William Haggas’ unbeaten Shadwell Estate colt Baaeed is one of 31 entries – including Andrew Balding’s three-time Group One heroine Alcohol Free, Francois-Henri Graffard’s The Revenant and John and Thady Gosden’s Palace Pier, whose only defeat to date came in this race last year.

The Group One QEII is worth more than £1million, as part of Ascot’s showpiece card on October 16.

It is headlined by the Champion Stakes itself and also features the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes and Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes – two more top-level races – and the Group Two Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup.

Baaeed was brilliant at Goodwood
Baaeed was brilliant at Goodwood (John Walton/PA)

Aidan O’Brien’s Classic winners Love, Mother Earth, Empress Josephine and St Mark’s Basilica – the highest-rated horse in the world – are also joined in the QEII reckoning by Nassau Stakes heroine Lady Bowthorpe and Snow Lantern, winner of Newmarket’s Falmouth Stakes.

Jim Bolger’s 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes winner Poetic Flare is another contender.

Baaeed, also a three-year-old, made his debut only in June but has since won four times up to Group Three level.

Haggas said: “He’ll be dining at the top table from now on, and I think we’ll stick at a mile.

“He’s earned a QEII entry, and it’s encouraging that he showed (in the Thoroughbred Stakes) at Goodwood that he could handle some give in the ground, because I wasn’t sure that he would.

“He keeps doing it, and people say he keeps running good times. He’s just a good horse, I think – and at the moment everything is going his way. He’s sound, he’s healthy – and he’s fast.”

Palace Pier sets the standard in the miling division
Palace Pier sets the standard in the miling division (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Palace Pier is a four-time Group One winner, and his joint trainer John Gosden said: “He had a blood disorder right after the Queen Anne and had to miss the Sussex Stakes – but all being well he’ll be in the Jacques le Marois at Deauville, and then we’ll take it forward from there.

“The QEII is a definite possibility again. But he’s also entered for the Champion Stakes, and it would be interesting to see him at a mile and a quarter.

“It’s still a long way off, so we’ll see.”

Graffard said of The Revenant: “The QEII is his main goal. We know he acts really well on soft ground, and last year that was an advantage to him.

“He is back in training after a summer break and is probably more of an autumn horse than a spring horse.”

O’Brien, who last won the QEII in 2016 with another brilliant filly Minding, said of Tuesday’s Group One Prix Rothschild winner Mother Earth: “(This) will be the race we will be looking at for her.

“I think she has met Alcohol Free three times, and she has beaten her twice in the good ground, with the other filly winning at Ascot in the soft ground.”

Real World (blue) is set for Haydock on Saturday
Real World (blue) is set for Haydock on Saturday (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Saeed bin Suroor has entered the improving Real World in both the QEII and Champion Stakes.

He said: “Real World could well run on Champions Day.

“He’s nice and he’s ready for a Group One, but first he’s going to run in the Rose of Lancaster at Haydock. He’s a big, strong horse – and he’s looked good this year.”

The British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes has attracted 40 entries – including David Menuisier’s 2020 winner Wonderful Tonight, on course this year for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at the start of October and another also in the Champion Stakes, following two Group Two successes this summer.

Her Sussex-based trainer said: “It was an amazing day last year when Wonderful Tonight won the Fillies & Mares.

“Ascot had been my nemesis until then – I’d never had a winner there. It was a relief too, because she had run over a mile and six in a Group One in France only two weeks earlier.

“She’s entered again, and she’s also in the Qipco Champion Stakes, but I’m not saying she’ll definitely run.

“We have to see what happens at Longchamp first, but if she went to Ascot and the ground was heavy we might be tempted by the Champion Stakes. Why not – the prize-money is more than twice as much.”

Dermot Weld has entered both his Breeders’ Cup Turf heroine Tarnawa – who returns to action at Leopardstown on Thursday – and dual Irish St Leger winner Search For A Song.

Tarnawa was a revelation last season
Tarnawa was a revelation last season (Niall Carson/PA)

He said of Tarnawa: “She’s being aimed at the Arc, but I’ve made provisional entries for her in the Fillies & Mares and the Champion Stakes – and we’ll see what happens.”

O’Brien’s eight entries include Joan of Arc, Love and Snowfall.

Alcohol Free is an eyecatching possible, back down in trip, for the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes – in which last year’s winner Glen Shiel and Dragon Symbol, both for Archie Watson, are more predictable contenders alongside Ed Walker’s July Cup winner Starman.

Balding said of Alcohol Free: “Qipco British Champions Day is very much on the agenda, and we know the ground won’t be a problem to her there.

“I’m keeping all the options open, so I’ve entered her in the Champions Sprint as well as the QEII, on the basis that the mile might take a bit of getting at that time of year.

“She won the Cheveley Park Stakes last year, and I think she’d travel well enough for six still. She’s got that class too.”

Last year’s Long Distance Cup and subsequent Goodwood Cup winner Trueshan is one of 48 entries this time – including the Gosdens’ great stayer Stradivarius and Tony Mullins’ Princess Zoe.

Provision in place for course change to be made on Champions Day

A provision has been made to let officials switch to the inner track at Ascot on Qipco British Champions Day should the ground have heavy in the going description.

British Champions Series Limited, the British Horseracing Authority and Ascot have announced revised track plans for the races on the round course – which will remain the default track but the word heavy on the day of racing will mean a switch to the inner track.

That is a change to the current rule, which states that the inner course would only come into plan in an abandonment situation.

The inner course cannot be used as the default as to prepare it to be so (by summer watering) would risk compromising it for Champions Day and for the jumps season, where the risk of waterlogging would increase significantly.

Racegoers shelter from the rain during day four of this year's Royal Ascot
Racegoers shelter from the rain during day four of this year’s Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

Clerk of the course Chris Stickels will give the going on the outer course on the morning of racing as normal. If he gives “heavy” in the going description or indeed chooses not to do so in a marginal call, an independent panel will also assess the ground.

The panel will decide whether there is heavy anywhere on the outer course, which would trigger the switch.

The inner track was used for the fixture in 2019, but went ahead as planned last year despite conditions being very soft.

Nick Smith, director of racing and public affairs at Ascot, said: “Using the cambered outer course with wider bends is obviously the ideal on QBCD. However, following discussions with the BHA, there is agreement that racing on heavy ground, if it can be avoided, is best for the day as a whole.

“Importantly, we are not setting out to penalise horses that prefer cut in the ground, which more often than not will be the prevailing conditions in autumn. In all likelihood, when heavy is in the going description on the outer course, the inner course will still be predominantly soft.

“Given the potential sensitivity around a switch of surfaces in a marginal situation, Chris has recommended that an independent panel verifies his assessment on the day.”

John Gosden – whose Palace Pier and Stradivarius were both beaten in the 2020 edition – said: “It is important that the executive are given the flexibility to switch to the inner course if it is heavy on the main outer course. The switch was made in 2019 and was a great success resulting in competitive racing.

“It should be noted that unlike the long summer days of June, mid-October does not present much in the way of drying conditions.”

Fellowes bids reluctant farewell to Onassis

Charlie Fellowes admits he will be sorry to see Onassis go after confirming the Royal Ascot winner is to retire to the paddocks.

The three-year-old filly signed off with a creditable run to finish sixth in the Qipco British Champions Sprint at Ascot, for which she had been supplemented.

As well as winning the Sandringham Handicap at the Royal meeting earlier this season, the daughter of Dubawi picked up a pair of Listed victories at Chantilly and Goodwood.

“As far as I am aware, despite my best efforts, she is retired,” said Fellowes.

“She ran an unbelievable race the other day, considering she had won on heavy ground six days earlier. To be beaten about two lengths by some of the best sprinters in the country, and had a lot of them behind her, was a remarkable effort.

“I think she ran the quickest final furlong as well and proved how good she is. I will be desperately sad to lose her.

“She would have made a lovely four-year-old. But the owners have made the decision – and as far as I know, she’s off to the owners’ Triermore Stud.”

Fellowes has pencilled in Chiefofchiefs, who was towards the rear in the Champions Sprint, for the Wentworth Stakes at Doncaster next month.

“Things didn’t go right for Chiefofchiefs. He got far too much daylight,” he said.

“He’s a really difficult ride. You have to ride him cold and bring him through horses.

“If he gets too much daylight, like he did at Doncaster the time before, he loses all interest. I think he’d have run a lot better if we had dropped him further out and ridden him to come through them. Sadly, the draw went against us and made tactics a bit harder.

“He’ll probably head to Doncaster for the final day of the season and run in the Listed race there.”

King Ottokar is to be aimed at the Lincoln Handicap next spring
King Ottokar is to be aimed at the Lincoln Handicap next spring (Steven Paston/PA)

The Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster at the start of the next Flat season in March is on the agenda for King Ottokar.

Fellowes is convinced a mile is his optimum trip, having mainly campaigned him over further for the last two seasons.

The four-year-old was sixth to Njord in the Balmoral Handicap at Ascot on Saturday, after being drawn on the wrong side of the track.

“That race just sums up his season. He was dreadfully unlucky,” said Fellowes.

“He deserved a lot more out of it than he got.

“He was drawn on completely the wrong side. He had to switch three-quarters way through the race, and there was a clear advantage on the far side than on the stands side.

“We’ve mucked around trying to work out his trip.

“He’s got tons of boot. A mile is his game, and soft ground. He’ll be aimed at the Lincoln at the beginning of next year.

“There’s nothing more for him this year. He’ll go straight to the Lincoln – and then hopefully we’ll have some fun now we know which direction we’re going in.”

Dubious Affair (right) is to stay in training in 2021
Dubious Affair (right) is to stay in training in 2021 (Steven Cargill/PA)

Fellowes feels Dubious Affair can show her true colours next term too, after failing to handle the testing conditions at Ascot when making no show in the British Champions Long Distance Cup.

“She didn’t handle the ground,” he said.

“We thought she would, but she didn’t.

“The good news is she’s staying in training next year.”

The four-year-old daughter of Frankel had shown progressive form this term, winning handicaps on her first three starts, being placed in a Listed contest and then fourth in the Group Two Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster.

Hong Kong in mix for Skalleti

Jerome Reynier will consider sending Skalleti to Hong Kong in December following his fine effort in defeat in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Fresh from winning the Prix Dollar for a second time at ParisLongchamp a fortnight earlier, the five-year-old performed admirably on his first start at Group One level on Saturday, filling the runner-up spot behind the William Haggas-trained Addeybb.

Reynier reports his stable star to have returned to France none the worse, and both the Hong Kong Cup and the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin on December 13 are possible targets.

“You always go to the races with a lot of confidence with this horse, because he always gives you everything,” said Reynier.

“He had the conditions to suit (at Ascot), because he handles that sticky ground well. To be fair, he is good on soft and heavy, straight tracks or right or left-handed, and he has even been winning on Polytrack – he’s just an amazing horse.

“Now the question is whether we go to Hong Kong with him. He hasn’t had a big campaign this year, because he only started in May and had two light starts on good ground before we started to step things up in August.

“We could now be aiming for Hong Kong, where I will enter him in the Hong Kong Cup over a mile and a quarter and the Hong Kong Vase over a mile and a half.

“You have to stay really well over a mile and a quarter at Ascot on that sort of ground, and he wasn’t fading out – when Magical came to him he kept going to finish second. I think he would stay a mile and a half on good ground in Hong Kong.

“We will have to see how we can travel horses and people as well. It could be tough logistically, to try and get everyone there seven days before the race, but we will see.

“Everyone is saying the races will not be as competitive this year, because the Japanese horses are not so good and the local level isn’t so strong either, so this could be the year to try it.”

Whether Skalleti heads to the Far East or not, he is set to return to training in 2021 – with a trip back to Ascot for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at the Royal meeting a potential target.

Reynier added: “The owner really wants to keep him in one piece and doesn’t want to try silly things, so I can understand if he decides to put him away for next year.

“We could aim for the Prix Ganay in France in April, and everyone is saying we should consider the Prince of Wales’s Stakes in June – because sometimes it’s raining and they can get soft ground.

“We will definitely consider that, because there is no option in France at that time of year.”

Hambleton on a high after Glen Shiel’s breakthrough win

Members of the Hambleton Racing syndicate can finally take in what it means to be Group One winners, following Glen Shiel’s breakthrough success at the highest level at Ascot.

Having gone close in the Haydock Sprint Cup, Archie Watson’s charge was surprisingly overlooked in the betting under Hollie Doyle on Saturday.

However, Doyle was on the crest of a wave after winning the opening race on Champions Day on Trueshan – and she took the early initiative before holding off the late lunge of Kevin Ryan’s Brando by the narrowest of margins in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes.

“Saturday was a massive moment for us,” said Hambleton’s Simon Turner.

“Our blueprint has always been to buy in the more affordable area of the market with top trainers, and try and compete at the highest level possible.

“At £45,000, Glen would be one of our more expensive purchases – but he seemed ridiculous value at that level. He’s been a revelation since dropped back to sprinting, and has been superbly handled by Archie Watson, who is destined for the very top of his profession in my opinion.

“Archie’s numbers are simply superb. Some have him pigeon-holed as two-year-old trainer, but there are countless examples of Archie achieving superb results with cast-offs from other yards too, many of them cheaply acquired.

“On a personal level, to win a race at the highest level with Hambleton Racing makes me very proud. We owe much of our success to Kevin Ryan, who has always looked after us exceptionally well and has provided us with any number of good horses along the way.

“I regard Kevin as a good friend, and it was no surprise he was the first on the phone on Saturday to congratulate me, despite the fact he’d just missed out with Brando. That’s the mark of the guy – he’s not just a just an outstanding trainer, but a true sportsman too.”

There are many different business models that syndicates adopt, with some offering shares for as little as £50, but Hambleton Racing hope theirs is one of the more robust on the market – with the loyalty shown by members as living proof.

Turner said: “Owning with us isn’t cheap – typically an owner will spend between £2-4,000 on their share and another £3,000 on the annual costs.

“We’d be among the more expensive syndicates but operate with some old-fashioned values. We certainly don’t penalise owners when their horses do well, so won’t be taking a penny of the £275,000 that Glen Shiel has won for his owners this year.

“We’re very proud of the fact many owners have been with us for over 10 years, which must mean we’re doing something right.

“I don’t think we’ll suddenly change our approach and start spending twice as much at the sales now. We’ll continue to seek out the best value we can at the sales. Thankfully, there seems to be a lot of value around at the moment.”

While most of the publicity around Glen Shiel’s win concerned Doyle, given it was her first Group One win, the same also applied to Watson – who was understandably delighted.

“I’m so proud of Glen Shiel, Hollie, and the whole team after the Champions Sprint,” said the Lambourn trainer.

“Hollie gave him a fantastic ride, and he was so tough. He hasn’t stopped improving all year, and to win a Group One is unbelievable.

“I am so pleased for Hambleton Racing, who are such huge supporters of ours, and for all his owners.

“Huge credit must go to Tom Biggs, who bought Glen Shiel for just £45,000 as a five-year-old horse in training last year.”

Monday Musings: Tom and Hollie’s Top Class Show

Many famous men through history have had to accept second place in their relationships with their even more well-known better halves, writes Tony Stafford. Their own celebrity was undoubtedly the reason they first came to the attention of their future partners, none more so than Joe Di Maggio, America’s supreme baseball star of the 1950’s, who had to grow accustomed, once hitched, to being referred to as Mr Marilyn Monroe.

Joe clearly accepted that slight (as it was in those unenlightened days) on his manhood, for why else would he have continued to support the troubled platinum blonde film star through the various subsequent alliances and scandals that stretched all the way to a President of the United States? For Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels, read John F Kennedy and Marilyn, illicit alliances half a century apart.

While entertainment and sport stars have occasionally got together, rarely has it been on such an equal basis as Mr and Mrs Hollie Doyle. Sorry, not quite yet, as although the wonderful Hollie and the equally admirable Tom Marquand are no married couple, they do live together in Hungerford. After Saturday’s exploits where the 20-some pair – Tom is the younger by two years – monopolised Champions Day at Ascot to the tune of four wins, so 67% of the six races, Tom hinted that marriage might be on the horizon.

Halfway through Saturday’s card, the various television outlets were in full Hollie mode. She won the first two races on Trueshan (by miles in the Stayers) and thrillingly by a nose on Glen Shiel (Sprint) before finishing a creditable second on Dame Malliot behind the highly-talented Wonderful Tonight, trained by David Menuisier in the fillies’ and mares’ race. Had the finishing order been reversed you could have imagined Frankie Dettori, already tailed off on Stradivarius in the opener and destined to share in Palace Pier’s first career defeat later on, wondering what was going on. Ascot’s supposed to be his private venue, but sorry Frankie, even Peter Pan had to grow old one day.

As it turned out, Glen Shiel was her final win, but after a brief break in the changing room while Palace Pier was struggling into third behind The Revenant in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, she picked up lesser cheques, for sixth in the Champion Stakes on Extra Elusive for her new boss Imad Sagar, and another second on Sir Michael Stoute’s Solid Stone in the Balmoral Handicap which closed the show.

I’m not sure whether the Marquand/Doyle team pools its earnings. By all accounts they usually sit down to relax after their respective long days, maybe playing a game of cards, watching telly or maybe even examining closely the relative quality of their performances.

At times one or other might be in the ascendant, as Hollie clearly was in the first half of Saturday when the total earnings of her two wins and three minor places added up to a whopping £495,000. Modesty precludes me from checking just what the precise share of that will go to the jockey, but somewhere around seven per cent might not be far wide of the mark.

So Hollie could rightfully say as they shuffled the cards: “Here’s my Group 2 and Group 1, can you match that?”. Well, fortunately, late-starting Tom could indeed counter. “Yes Hollie, here’s my 62 grand for the Balmoral Handicap on Njord, but my Group 1 and the 425k Addeybb won in the Champion Stakes easily matches your day’s work!”

In monetary terms it might just do so, but in the media perception – I still didn’t watch it on ITV, but Sky Sports Racing, who had to share their rightful coverage of Ascot with Racing TV and the national broadcaster - both revelled in Holliemania. It was indeed mostly a one-way street.

In the end, though, it proved to be almost a dead-heat on the earnings front, the final figure arriving at almost exactly £1 million (505 Tom and 495 Hollie); just like their riding styles: tidy, unobtrusive and in each case being in the right place at the right time in just about all their races.

I’ve mentioned Tony Nerses before and there’s no doubt that Imad Sagar’s Racing Manager played a big part in securing Hollie’s services earlier in the year. When the news came it was with a mixture of surprise at the appointment and dread that it might all go pear-shaped, but the tiny Hollie quickly grew into the role. The first Group races soon came, notably on Sagar’s Extra Elusive at Windsor in August, the highlight of her personal five-timer that day. Now she has that first Group 1 on her ever-expanding list of achievements and a record number of winners for a female rider: already pushing 120, that in a truncated year. Which of them will win the championship first? Possibly Hollie, but either will be a credit to the accolade.

There seems no limit to the list of potential employers – if you’re good enough for Sir Michael Stoute, you’re good enough for anyone. At the same time Marquand has seamlessly moved from the guy who happened to be available to partner Addeybb in those two winning Group 1 rides in Australia last winter to now being the go-to man for that well-travelled mudlark’s trainer, William Haggas.

I use the term mudlark advisedly, and there is little doubt that there is no point in turning up on Champions Day if you cannot cope with the soft ground that is almost inevitable in mid-October. That was always the main argument against staging such an important date so late in the year. In a normal mid-October once the European pattern gets through the various Classic schedules of the three major racing nations, there is little scope to go elsewhere. The Irish have their Champions weekend; France and the Arc meeting follows three weeks later, so this is where our big day has to be.

Not that the winners of Saturday’s races are anything but worthy, even if the names John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien, for whatever reason, didn’t manage to collect any first prizes. I was surprised to hear that Gosden was citing the going for Stradivarius’ capitulation in the opening Stayers race. It was the fourth time he’d contested it and he’d won it only once previously. This time he’d gone through the extra exertion of a full preparation for the Arc with a mile and a half run in one of the trials. Gosden’s suggestion that because the Arc had been run at a pedestrian pace it was less demanding than usual seemed surprising.

The biggest surprise, though, in view of his less than outstanding record at this fixture – nowhere near the level of his three Gold Cups there or four Goodwood Cups in high summer – was that he started as short as 11-10.  Trueshan came to the race having won six of ten career starts, including a defeat of smart stayer Withhold in Listed class last time at Salisbury. Runner-up Search For A Star had won the last two renewals of the Irish St Leger for Dermot Weld and third home Fujaira Star had won a Royal Ascot handicap before impressing in a top-class Ebor at York and following home Search For A Star at the Curragh. It was a hot race.

I fully expected Andrew Gemmill to have been at Ascot on Saturday for Trueshan’s win, but he stayed home. Andrew was one of the four original owners – the Singula Partnership- of Trueshan but in May last year they leased the horse to the Barbary Lions 5, a bigger syndicate of 20 in which the quartet also participates. That lease ends at the end of the year according to Andrew and it will be interesting to see whether Alan King will allow this four-year-old gelding to run over hurdles which must have been the original plan. More than likely he’ll be happy to stay on the level and try to win next year’s Gold Cup.

Some spectacular results have been achieved by two of Saturday’s winners, cheaply bought at auction some way into their careers. The Darley-bred Glen Shiel had already raced 11 times in all, once at two, then as a three- and four-year old for Godolphin with Andre Fabre, winning three times. Turning up at the Doncaster May sales as a five-year-old, unraced so far that year, he was bought on behalf of Archie Watson for £45,000 and didn’t see a British racecourse until October. Five runs before the turn of the year didn’t produce a win, but the first of three pre-lockdown appearances did.

On January 8 at Newcastle off a mark of 96 and ridden by Hollie, he won readily. It was not until another five runs later, also at Newcastle in late June that he collected again and that was the start. The son of Pivotal has shown his and his trainer’s ability with a second to Dream Of Dreams in the Haydock Sprint Cup and then by reversing that form while also seeing off perennial Group 1 sprint contender Brando, much to his rider’s evident disbelief.

Marquand was also the beneficiary of an inspired purchase. The four-year-old Njord had started out with Sheila Lavery’s Irish stable, gaining his first win off 63 in May last year. He collected again on October 13 before going to Goff’s sales six days later when BBA Ireland paid 54,000 Euro on behalf of Jessica Harrington. By now on 82, he ran back at Gowran Park only nine days after the sale, winning comfortably. Another win, soon after racing’s resumption in June came off 88 at The Curragh. On Saturday Njord ran away with the highly-competitive Balmoral Handicap and must now be on at least 110, more than three stone higher than where he started.

I highlighted the chance of The Revenant last week in this column and was not at all surprised that he coped with conditions better than Palace Pier when going one better than last year in the QE II. He now has the remarkable figures of 10 wins, two seconds and a third in 13 career starts. In that race, Sir Busker’s alarming tendency to hang left when put under pressure didn’t stop him from finishing fourth, showing that if he had been drawn on the stands side in that most unfair of all Cambridgeshires, he might well have won it. Fourth in this coveted Group 1 and almost £35k will have been satisfactory compensation.

One other horse that we in the UK probably have hardly noticed – I hadn’t! - even after his achievement of splitting Addeyyb and Magical, who was unluckily denied a run at a crucial stage, is Skalleti. This five-year-old, trained in Marseille by the talented Jerome Reynier has a record on a par with The Revenant’s. Even after Saturday’s defeat he has 12 victories from 16 and this autumn has a Deauville Group 3 victory over subsequent Arc winner Sottsass and an easy Prix Dollar victory on Arc weekend on his record.

Preconceptions proved misguided in several cases on Saturday, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that some of the winners weren’t up to standard. They were.

- TS

The Revenant will be back for more next year

Francis-Henri Graffard is looking forward to setting The Revenant further top-level assignments in 2021, following his narrow Queen Elizabeth II Stakes victory at Ascot.

Runner-up to King Of Change in the Group One showpiece 12 months ago, the five-year-old returned on Saturday to go one better on Qipco British Champions Day under Pierre-Charles Boudot.

The Revenant had previously raced just once this season – winning the Prix Daniel Wildenstein at ParisLongchamp a fortnight ago – and Graffard hopes to see his charge in more regular action next season.

“He’s back in his box and very happy – he came out of the race well,” said the French trainer.

“The QEII was the plan since the race last year. Obviously we had to miss a big part of the season, and our patience was rewarded.

“He had a very good comeback in the Wildenstein and came on a lot for the race. He produced a very good performance.

“We will wait until next year now – we won’t travel abroad and will stick to Europe. Hopefully we will be able to run him in the spring and the autumn.

“He has won on good ground, but obviously he can perform at a very high level on soft and heavy.”

Sunday ‘chill-out’ is just Champion for golden couple Doyle and Marquand

Hollie Doyle and Tom Marquand were on Sunday basking in the glory of their momentous Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot.

Fresh from breaking her own British record for the most winners in a calendar year by a female jockey, at Kempton earlier in the week, Doyle enjoyed a double in the first two races in Berkshire.

After steering Alan King’s Trueshan to a wide-margin win in the Long Distance Cup, the 24-year-old claimed her first victory at Group One level as Archie Watson’s Glen Shiel clung on by a nose in the British Champions Sprint.

Not to be outdone, Doyle’s partner Marquand landed the final two events on a six-race card – aboard the William Haggas-trained Addeybb in the Champion Stakes and then Jessica Harrington’s Irish challenger Njord in the Balmoral Handicap.

With no Flat racing taking place in Britain on Sunday, both had time to reflect on an unforgettable afternoon.

Doyle said: “It was a great day. I would have been pleased just for all the horses to run well, so to ride two winners was brilliant.

“Trueshan was very impressive, and to get off to a start like that fills you with plenty of confidence for the rest of the day.

“I didn’t think Glen Shiel had won, so it was a big shock when he was called as the winner.”

Hollie Doyle was in shock after victory aboard Glen Shiel
Hollie Doyle was in shock after victory aboard Glen Shiel (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Doyle is just as thrilled for Marquand as she is for herself, adding: “It was brilliant for Tom to win the Champion Stakes, especially with it being on Addeybb, who has been such a flagbearer for Tom. He’s a well-travelled horse, who is just getting better and better.

“We went out for dinner on the way back from racing, so that was nice.

“Today is the first day of no Flat racing in a very long time, so we’re just chilling out and taking advantage of that.”

Marquand won two Group Ones in Australia aboard Addeybb earlier in the year, and is full of praise for his trainer William Haggas after producing him to win a first top-level prize on home soil.

Addeybb and Tom Marquand (left) landed the Qipco Champion Stakes
Addeybb and Tom Marquand (left) landed the Qipco Champion Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

He said: “It was unbelievable. Addeybb has done wonders for my career already, so to go and win on Champions Day was incredible.

“William has had the race as a long-term goal, and it was a masterclass in training. Taking him to Australia, bringing him back and having this race as his target and pulling it off – it’s hard to comprehend, to be honest.

“It’s the Champion Stakes and one of the hardest races of the year to win. You had Magical and other champions in there. We knew we had a top horse in Addeybb – but you can’t say you’re confident, going up against horses like that.

“We were looking forward to running and hoped he would put his best foot forward, but in your heart of hearts you can’t help but think it’s near on mission impossible trying to beat horses like that. How lucky we are to come across a horse that can do what he’s done.”

Marquand admitted the the scale of both his and Doyle’s achievement is still sinking in.

He said: “After racing we got in the car and looked at each other and started laughing – it’s ridiculous really.

“You couldn’t have written the day any better. We are both so lucky to be in the position we’re in.

“Unintentionally, I guess, we’re pushing each other. We both have similar goals and things we want to achieve. We’ve got each other’s entire and full backing, which has to make a difference.

“We never get a day off together, so today couldn’t have fallen any better. We’re just chilling out and enjoying it.”

Archie Watson thrilled to send out first Group One winner

Plenty of plaudits will rightly be attributed to Hollie Doyle following her breakthrough Group One success aboard Glen Shiel at Ascot – and it should not be lost it was also a first victory at the highest level for trainer Archie Watson.

In the four years that he has held a licence, Watson has made giant strides, enjoying plenty of success both at home and abroad, and since teaming up with Doyle, who turned 24 last weekend, he has now formed what is fast becoming a formidable partnership.

Seeing the pair notch doubles together at tracks like Wolverhampton and Lingfield has become a common sight, and the duo finally enjoyed glory on the biggest of stages thanks to the victory of the Hambleton Racing-owned gelding in the Qipco British Champions Sprint.

Watson said: “That is my first Group One winner and it is absolutely amazing. He is some horse and there aren’t many Group One horses that are picked up for £45,000 at a horses in training sale. He has just improved throughout the year.

“I was delighted to see Hollie get her first Group One winner as she is such a hard-working rider. I’m so pleased that I was able to give her that breakthrough Group One as we have had so many winners together. Her being on this winner means a lot to me and the yard.

“I’ve been knocking on the door at Group One level with the likes of Soldier’s Call, Snowy Winter and Absolute Blast, who were all Group One-placed. For him to get his head in front is massive for the yard, as we’ve only been going just over four years.”

Making the decision to purchase Glen Shiel at the Goffs UK Spring Horses In Training/P2P Sale was a shrewd decision by Watson, but equally as important to helping the six-year-old realise his potential was reverting him back to sprinting this campaign.

Watson said: “We always intended to drop him down in trip, as when we first got him we raced him over a mile and a quarter. Since he has dropped to six furlongs he has just improved.

“He has been so consistent and he hasn’t been out of the first two over six furlongs. He has gone from winning off big weights in handicaps into conditions races and now into stakes races.

“He has only run in four Group races and he has improved in all of them, having learnt how to race over the trip.”

Though now able to celebrate the victory Watson, who watched the race away from the track, admits he was on edge awaiting the outcome of the result.

He said: “Waiting on the photo-finish was not good for me, but I thought he just held on. As it was literally a bob of the heads, you can never be confident in a situation like that.

“While I’m delighted to give Hollie her first Group One, I’m also delighted for his owners Hambleton Racing as they have been big supporters of mine.

“A lot of credit needs to go to Tom Biggs, who spotted him at the sale with me – he buys all these horses and puts me in the privileged position to train them.”

Having kept Glen Shiel busy since the start of the year, Watson intends to give his new stable star a well-deserved break before taking aim at all the major sprint races over six furlongs next year.

He said: “Everything has gone fantastic today and he will have another holiday now. I think straight tracks really play to his strengths, so he won’t be going to the Breeders’ Cup or Hong Kong. We will look at all those six-furlong races in Europe for him.

“I hope there are still more big wins in him, there will not be too much difference in him from being a six-year-old to a seven-year-old. He has been in such good form and it has been great to strike while the iron has been hot.

“Hopefully there is still more to come and he can be very competitive in these sorts of races next season.”

Hollie Doyle leaves lasting impression on unforgettable Champions Day

Hollie Doyle made her mark on an unforgettable Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot with a double that included the first Group One triumph of her career.

Glen Shiel gave the record-breaking 24-year-old that landmark success when just holding on for glory in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes.

Doyle and connections of the Archie Watson-trained six-year-old had a few anxious moments waiting for the result of the photo-finish, before it was confirmed Glen Shiel (16-1) had beaten Brando by a nose.

The epic success by the narrowest of margins capped a momentous week in another season to remember for Doyle, for it was only on Wednesday she broke her own record for number of winners by a female rider in a calendar year.

“It is a dream come true, a massive dream come true, especially on this horse. Everyone in the yard adores him,” said Doyle, who at Windsor in August became the first female jockey to ride five winners at a single meeting.

“My aim at the start of the year was to ride a Group winner and I always said a Group One one day, but I didn’t think it would come this year.

“I don’t get too carried away, but I’m a bit delusional as to what is going on at the moment as it has all been a bit of a whirlwind. It has been a great few years.

“It feels really unusual as for someone like me it doesn’t normally happen, but it has done today.

“I’m in a state of shock right now. I didn’t think I’d won, so to have had the result we have was incredible.”

She added: “It’s not about me it’s about Archie Watson, he has campaigned this horse unbelievably. No one else would have won a Group One with this horse.”

It was only 35 minutes earlier she had become the first female to ride a winner on British Champions Day with an easy victory in the opening Long Distance Cup on Trueshan (11-1).

Leading over a furlong out, Alan King’s stayer stormed away from the opposition to score by seven and a half lengths from Search For A Song.

“That was incredible, I travelled all over them. He doesn’t like being crowded, so I switched him at the three-pole and the further I went, the better,” said Doyle.

Hollie Doyle opens her British Champions Day account on Trueshan (left) in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot
Hollie Doyle opens her British Champions Day account on Trueshan (left) in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“This is a proper horse, he won his first two starts. I’ve always liked him – but I’m not going to lie, I didn’t realise he would be up to Group Two level like today.

“The further I was going, the better. He was tanking with me and he went through the ground like a tractor.

“The pace was reasonable, but he was travelling and he felt like he was hacking round there. I switched my fellow round horses as they said he didn’t like getting crowded in the Ebor and when I pushed the button, he responded.”

A remarkable hat-trick looked on the cards when she went out to partner Dame Malliot in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.

But as hard as they tried, Doyle and her mount had to play second fiddle to Wonderful Tonight and William Buick.

Thumbs up from Hollie Doyle's partner Tom Marquand after his win on Addeybb in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot
Thumbs up from Hollie Doyle’s partner Tom Marquand after his win on Addeybb in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Doyle lost nothing in defeat in the biggest race on the card, the Qipco Champion Stakes, as she steered Roger Charlton’s 33-1 outsider Extra Elusive into a creditable sixth place.

However, she would have taken pride in the outcome as the winner, Addeybb, was ridden by her partner, Tom Marquand.

Fittingly, the couple fought out the finish of the concluding Balmoral Handicap, with Marquand landing the spoils on Njord and Doyle second on Solid Stone as they ended the day all square with two winners each.

Doyle said at the conclusion of a remarkable afternoon: “It has been incredible and you wouldn’t have called it. We both came here with a few chances, but in Group Ones and races like that you need a bit of luck. It has exceeded all expectations.

“Tom really liked Addeybb today and I think that is the icing on the cake, for the horse to win a Group One in England. I thought Dame Malliot was my best chance, but I just bumped into a good one there. Glen Shiel was incredible.

“It feels really special as we are the younger generation and we are probably two of the youngest people to have ridden four winners on Champions Day out of six races.

“We are going for a meal around here somewhere which will be nice. I’m not sure who is paying, we will have to go half and half!”

Njord seals day to remember for Tom Marquand

Tom Marquand completed a Qipco British Champions Day double at Ascot with victory on Irish challenger Njord in the Balmoral Handicap.

Having taken the Champion Stakes through Addeybb, Marquand struck on Jessica Harrington’s runner to emulate his partner Hollie Doyle who also enjoyed a big-race double.

Fittingly, it was Doyle who was Marquand’s closest pursuer as she chased Njord (15-2) home on Solid Stone.

Raeeq, the 11-4 favourite, made the running on the far side with Solid Stone close up. Marquand bided his time and came with a telling run in the final furlong to run out a cosy winner. Greenside was third and Graignes fourth.

Marquand said: “Success makes everything feel a bit easier and I guess, as many sportspeople will tell you, confidence is the key to having more success. I guess that’s probably a prime example of it.

“Jessica sent him over and he is in good form. He has run a few big races and both she and Shane Foley said that he would absolutely love the ground. I actually took a pull on him at the two-pole because I thought I was going to get there too soon.

“Fortunately, with races like that, luck was on our side. We were drawn over on the right side with the favourites and it fell absolutely perfect for him.

“Jessica booked me for her lighter horse in the race and he ended up not running and I ended up landing on this lad. She has sent over good few runners this year and I have been really lucky to be sat on them.

“I have to thank her for the opportunities because we have had a little bit of success without striking. She is an incredible trainer – she has sent over a Champions Day winner, so well done to her and the team.”

He added: “I booked a table last night up the road, so we will go for a bit of dinner and probably sit there smiling for a couple of hours!”

Addeybb just Champion at Ascot for Haggas and Marquand

Addeybb overcame his wide draw to get his revenge on Magical in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Beaten into second place by Aidan O’Brien’s brilliant mare last year, Addeybb turned the tables with a dominant display.

Tom Marquand made his intentions clear by galvanising William Haggas’ six-year-old straight from the stalls to get a good position.

It worked, with Addeybb – a dual Group One winner in Australia in the spring – on the heels of the pace-setting Serpentine before being given the office by Marquand to go and win the race.

Addeybb (9-1) was quickly challenged in the straight by Skalleti (13-2), but managed to shrug off the French raider and win by two and a quarter lengths.

Magical (15-8 favourite) was another half a length back in third, without looking like getting to the winner.

Marquand said: “Honestly what a credit to Safid (Alam, groom), William and Maureen (Haggas) and the whole team at home. He’s gone to Australia, he conquered Down Under and now he’s come back and he deserved that Group One here so much.”

Marquand is the partner of Hollie Doyle, and added of her achievements on the day she rode a Champions Day double, including her first ever Group One: “I’m so, so proud of her. All she does is get up every day and graft and to ride her first Group One for Archie Watson is brilliant, because he’s played such a big part, but also for Alan King because he’s played a big part for both of us in the last few years.

“Our first Royal Ascot winners were for him and he’s had a cracking year. There’s no one, genuinely no one, who deserves it more.”

Haggas said of his one-time Lincoln Handicap winner: “He is a special horse for us and has done lots of things we can only dream of. The Australia thing was so fantastic because he had never actually won a Group One.

“I think the first time we put cheekpieces on him in the Wolferton last year he put up a pretty smart performance to beat Elarqam and Magic Wand in a Listed race. Ever since then he has been either first or second in top company. He likes the ground and goes well fresh.

Celebration time for Tom Marquand
Celebration time for Tom Marquand (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“It seems a bit ridiculous to take him to Ayr to run in a Listed race (in preparation for Ascot), but actually it was a nice thing for him as we could give him a month between there and here. He looked imperious in the Lincoln that day (2018) over a mile, but he loves it fresh so we try keep him fresh. He was fresh going into Australia.

“We always hoped he had it in him. Personally I couldn’t see Magical being beaten, as I thought she beat us comprehensively last year, although not by very far. I was frightened the ground had dried too much today, but it was pretty horrible and he loves it when it is horrible.

“He is at his best when there is an inspection in the morning and it passes and as Tom said it feels like good ground on him. Tom said in the first one he won in Australia it was English good ground and no softer than that. He is pretty versatile, but he is deadly on this ground.

“We (Haggas and wife Maureen) watched him together and he never looked like being beaten. I know that sounds awfully arrogant, but if you watched him the whole way round he was in the perfect position and he was able to get a breath coming into the straight and when he said ‘go’, he went.”

I’ve no doubt he will be champion one day

He added of Marquand: “Tom is a young guy that has his girlfriend kicking him up the backside every day, but he is a very personable, strong rider that has done very well. He has got a hell of a future. I’ve no doubt he will be champion one day.

“All these jockeys and trainers want to be competing on these days and races like this. He has got there very early on in his career and good luck to him and he will do really well. I hope it is with us, but if it is not, it’s not.

“He will do really well in the future as he is a top-class guy and rider.”

The Revenant claims Queen Elizabeth II Stakes gold

The Revenant went one better than 12 months ago with a game display to claim the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

Runner-up to King Of Change in 2019, Francis-Henri Graffard’s mud-loving gelding only made his seasonal debut two weeks ago, when winning the Prix Daniel Wildenstein for a second time.

Given a fine ride by Pierre-Charles Boudit, the 5-1 chance held the persistent challenge of the always-prominent Roseman (28-1) by a head in the Group One over the straight mile, sponsored by Qipco.

Palace Pier, the 8-11 favourite, was only third, three and a quarter lengths away, as John Gosden’s dual Group One winner was beaten for the first time in six starts. He also lost a shoe in the race.

Gosden said: “He pulled a shoe off leaving the gate. He was trying to run the whole race with one shoe off and Frankie (Dettori) said he was not able to change leads and the horse wasn’t able to handle the ground.”

Big smiles from Pierre-Charles Boudot
Big smiles from Pierre-Charles Boudot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

A delighted Boudot said of the winner: “Today I was very confident with his trainer and the horse did it well on the track.

“He loved the ground and the trip has been perfect behind Circus Maximus. My horse was very relaxed behind him and when I asked him, he gave me a nice and long turn of foot. He has been courageous on the last furlong.

“[He is a] super tough horse. His preparation has been good with the Daniel Wildenstein. He’s courageous and he is just good.”

Wonderful result for David Menuisier

Wonderful Tonight backed up her first Group One success of just two weeks earlier with a determined performance to win the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot.

David Menuisier’s decision to run record producer Christopher Wright’s three-year-old so soon after the Prix de Royallieu at ParisLongchamp was fully vindicated.

A brave move by William Buick to set sail for home over three furlongs out on the 4-1 favourite paid off, after Manuela De Vega had ensured a good end-to-end gallop.

Hollie Doyle – bidding for a sensational hat-trick after wining the first two races on Trueshan and Glen Shiel – gave chase on Dame Malliot, but had to settle for second place, two and a half lengths behind the winner.

Passion was a length back in third, with Mehdaayih two lengths away in fourth place.

Menuisier said: “We know she is very good, the only question mark was whether she had recuperated from Arc weekend or not. I hadn’t, but I’m glad she did. She is top class all round. She is easy train, to be fair, and is tough as anything. She is getting better and better.

“There is still some improvement to come. She is a tad keen early on. Once she really knows how to settle I think she can go up a notch again. You never know with fillies if they will train on or not, but we wanted to keep her as a four-year-old to target the Arc next year.

“We nearly ran in the Arc this year and I think she would have run a stormer. She wasn’t a Group One winner, but now she is the sky is the limit.”

He went on: “We knew she was up to that level and we knew she could do it, but when you bring her back after two weeks you never know what you are going to find under pressure. She did give us the right signals, she was jumping around and squealing all week. It is incredible how hard she is. She keeps finding all the time. She doesn’t know what defeat is.

“I feel so lucky. We got her for 40,000 euros as a yearling and now she has won her second Group One inside two weeks. It is the stuff dreams are made of. When she ran on Arc weekend I couldn’t go as I was planning to go to Tattersalls (sales) the following week.

“I was actually a nervous wreck. I think I must have cried for half an hour non stop once she passed the line. Here, being on site, you feel a bit more in control. She makes me proud. Any horse at any level that tries their hardest you have to take your hat off.

“Managing to win a Group One on Arc weekend and here for a small stable is just fantastic. She is the legacy of seeds Thundering Blue planted two or three years ago. There is a bit of him in her being so tough. It was his trait to be very tough and he didn’t know what defeat was either.”

Buick said: “This filly, she’s rock solid. David was very confident beforehand, she’s just very straightforward. She’s proven on the ground and she stays well, so she ticks a lot of boxes and to be honest with you I’ve been looking forward to riding this filly all week.

Wonderful Tonight (left) is now a dual Group One winner
Wonderful Tonight (left) is now a dual Group One winner (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“She was out on her own all the way up the straight, it’s a long, daunting straight no matter what you’re riding (but she was fantastic).”

Doyle said of Dame Malliot: “She has run really well. She was a bit keen early on, as expected. She has done nothing wrong in defeat.

“To be honest I followed the winner the whole way round. I thought ‘perfect, pitch here’, but Will pushed the button and he took a few lengths out of me, whereas she just stayed on the one pace.”

Glen Shiel gives Hollie Doyle landmark first career Group One victory

Hollie Doyle landed her first Group One success when snatching the verdict on Glen Shiel in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot.

Just 35 minutes after Doyle had become the first female rider to win on British Champions Day in the opening Long Distance Cup on Trueshan, the 24-year-old broke yet more new ground in a record-breaking year.

Doyle and connections of the Archie Watson-trained six-year-old had to wait a few anxious moments for the result of the photo-finish before it was confirmed Glen Shiel (16-1) had beaten the veteran Brando by a nose.

Glen Shiel was always in the front rank after being smartly out of the stalls and was joined three furlongs out by Oxted. The July Cup winner took the lead, but had nothing more to give in the final half-furlong.

Glen Shiel kept on giving back in front – and just held the very late challenge of 80-1 outsider Brando. One Master was half a length away in third place.

Doyle said: “I’m in a state of shock right now. I didn’t think I’d won, so to have had the result we have was incredible. We had a good old battle with Oxted from the three-pole and I thought that I would be doing well to hold on like I did, but he is such a game horse.

“He is incredible. He has got quicker with age. When we first got him, he was running over 10 furlongs in France and didn’t show a whole lot of speed, but the further we dropped him back, the quicker he has got.”

She added: “It’s not about me it’s about Archie Watson, he has campaigned this horse unbelievably. No one else would have won a Group One with this horse.

“It is a dream come true, a massive dream come true, especially on this horse. Everyone in the yard adores him. My aim at the start of the year was to ride a Group winner and I always said a Group One one day, but I didn’t think it would come this year.

“I don’t get too carried away, but I’m a bit delusional as to what is going on at the moment as it has all been a bit of a whirlwind. It has been a great few years.

“It feels really unusual as for someone like me it doesn’t normally happen, but it has done today.”

Glen Shiel hangs on from Brando
Glen Shiel hangs on from Brando (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The Kevin Ryan-trained Brando was ridden by Tom Eaves, who said: “He has run a stormer. You are always gutted finishing second, but he has run a great race. It was a bob of the heads. I’m delighted, but gutted at the same time.

“He has been running OK. He ran well at York last Saturday and that probably put him right. York has never been his sort of track. He likes it here on this big, stiff track. It is a great training performance.”