Jumping's finest continue the trend in the Ascot Stakes
Don't you just love it when when of our Jumps trainers has one over on their Flat counterparts to scoop a big prize during the summer? I find myself rooting for the Jumps boys taking on the might of Coolmore and Godolphin when it comes to the big handicaps.
Today's opening day at Royal Ascot is a case in point. You can't help but love Ascot even if you're no great follower of the Flat; it's just so terribly British to dress up in morning suits for a day at the sports! No surprise it's the meeting of the year for many across the world, never mind the UK. No-one else would be mad enough to dress up to the nines for a horserace meeting.
Of the Ascot races I enjoy most, it's the two over the longest distances that I find most appealing, including today's Ascot Stakes, over 2m4f, which has been dominated by Jumps trainers over the past 10 years. In fact, any trends will tell you you need a dual purpose horse, not overly raced on the Flat to win it.
The last 10 runnings have seen victories for Willie Mullins (4), Charles Byrnes (1), Jonjo O'Neill (1) and Ian Williams, training from superb facilities just south of the M40 at Alvechurch. Today's victory for the versatile team at Dominion Racing is just the latest big handicap to fall their way after victory in the same race two years ago.
Two-handed in the race, it was the 7 year-old French-bred Reshoun who came good on the day under William Buick to win by a short head at a splendid 66/1. Of the first six home, only the Gosden runner didn't hail from a yard as well known for the winter game.
For what appeared a terrific and fair contest, it was a shame therefore to see Buick handed an 11 day suspension and a fine of £1,150 for overuse of the whip. Our winning trainer is quoted in the Racing Post as saying, "I thought the horse ran a blinder." When told of the stewards' decision, he added: "I'm very disappointed to hear William's received a ban of that length. There was certainly nothing that struck me as I watched the race to make me think that was coming".
Likeable Ian is never over-excited about his success; his grounding with the likes of Jenny Pitman and Francois Doumen kept his feet firmly anchored on the ground. But like contemporary Alan King, a man from Jumping roots is forging a highly successful dual - purpose career under both codes. This was his 20th winner of the Flat season to date, after what turned out to be a pretty good Jumps campaign. He appears as at home at windy Hexham as among the aristocracy of the sport - equine and human - at Ascot.
Nor is it just handicaps or long distance races that are his forte. Only a few weeks ago, he was winning Epsom's World Pool "Dash" Handicap over the fastest 5f in the country.
If you're ever in a position to secure a cast-off from Ian, be sure to know he will already have got the very best from the animal already!