With the racecourse covered in beautiful summer sunshine, Royal Ascot 2010 started with a bang as French superstar Goldikova landed the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes in thrilling style. Sent off the 11/8 market leader, the Freddie Head-trained five-year-old made it nine Group 1 victories in holding off the fast-finishing Paco Boy, who was looking to repeat his success in the race of twelve months ago.
Olivier Peslier never had his mount far off the pace as Calming Influence, under Frankie Dettori, took the field along, closely pursued by Johnny Murtagh on Rip Van Winkle. As the field swept past the two furlong pole Peslier was in the clear and when he pressed the button the response from Goldikova saw them power clear of their nine rivals. In behind, Richard Hughes was busy weaving his way through the field on the 2009 winner and really hit top gear once they got clear of traffic.
However, the winner had already flown and, despite their best efforts, the line came in time for the French raider as she declared herself as one of the greatest race mares of all time. 50/1 outsider Dream Eater ran a fine race to cross the line in third, albeit three lengths adrift of the front two.
The time was only fractionally outside the course record as the winner took her lifetime earnings close to £2.75m.
For the first time since 2004, the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes stayed on home soilthanks to the Barry Hills-trained Equiano, ridden by his son Michael. It was the trainer’s 24th Royal Ascot winner but his first in this race.
In typical ‘blink and you miss it’ style, the field exploded out of the gates to blitz their way down the 5 furlong distance with Equiano always near to the leaders, close up against the nearside rail. Australian hotpot Nicconi was taken off his feet in the early stages but Frankie Dettori was making good headway through the field. However, the winner wasn’t stopping in front and, although his rivals tried in vain to reel him in, he ran out a comfortable winner from Markab in second and Borderlescott in third. Nicconi fared best of the overseas raiders, coming home in fourth, with fellow Aussie Gold Trail ultimately well beaten. Equiano was winning the race for the second time, having previously tasted success in 2008 when he became the first-ever Spanish-trained winner at Royal Ascot when in the care of Mauricio Delcher-Sanchez. He became the first horse to lose and then regain the King’s Stand crown since Elbio in 1991 and then 1993. Canford Cliffs followed up his recent Iris2,000 Guineas success when running out a convincing winner of the St James’s Palace Stakes. The Richard Hannon-trained son of Tagula was successful on the same card twelve months ago when blitzing his rivals by six lengths in the Coventry Stakes and he has continued that high level of form through into his Classic season.
Happy to track the early pace, Richard Hughes had his mount towards the rear but when the field swung for home the ease with which he was travelling was there for all to see. The Aidan O’Brien trio of Steinbeck, Beethoven and Encompassing had cut out the early running but those exertions soon began to tell and, as they dropped away, it was left to Richard Hannon’s other runner, English and French 2,000 Guineas runner-up Dick Turpin, to take over. However, his stable mate looked to have the bases covered and once Hughes hit the front the race was effectively over.
He passed the post a length clear of Dick Turpin in second with a further three-quarters of a length back to Hearts of Fire in third, the 33/1 shot running a huge race for trainer Pat Eddery. It was the third successive year that the Irish 2,000 Guineas winner has gone on to success in this Group 1 event and the sixth in the last ten years since Black Minnaloushe achieved the double in 2001.