Classy Rizeena proves pride of Brittain
If there are any 80-year-olds who have trained a Royal Ascot winner, they are few and far between, which is why it was hats off to Clive Brittain yesterday.
A mere 40 years after breaking his duck at the meeting with Averof in the St James's Palace, Brittain capped a lifetime of achievement when Rizeena landed the Coronation Stakes in terrific style.
Before the 1,000 Guineas, for which she was winter favourite, Brittain exuded confidence. Those who thought it was just the misplaced optimism of an old man living on past glories when she finished down the field were very wrong. He produced Rizeena returned to perfection and his high opinion was vindicated.
Ryan Moore won the race with a decisive move just more than a furlong out to open up a lead which the late closers, like the three-quarter length runner-up Lesstalk In Paris and the third, Euro Charline, could never quite claw back.
John Oxx's My Titania ran a race full of promise on her seasonal debut, rallying well up the straight to claim fourth, having pulled hard for Declan McDonogh through the slow pace that was set during the early stages. The irrepressible Brittain, who received a slightly sideways glance from the Duke of York when he did his soft-shoe shuffle up onto the podium to get his trophy, was delighted.
"I was very confident before the Guineas and I was equally confident today. I thought all she had to do was turn up and show us what we know she can do. I can't explain Newmarket.
"She was in the right place, but when Richard (Hughes) went to push the button, nothing happened. She's run four times at Newmarket now and never won.
"We were then getting her ready for Ireland, but when we scoped her there was a bit of colour in the wash, so we stopped and started again. Ryan rode her work last week and he was confident she was back to her best."
His Newmarket neighbour, John Gosden, struck for the third time this week when Lady Bamford's homebred Eagle Top ran out an impressive winner from Aidan O'Brien's well-backed favourite Adelaide in the King Edward VII Stakes.
"I particularly liked it when William (Buick) had to take a pull down the home straight as that's when you know you have a good horse," Gosden reflected.
"He was backward at two. I'm glad I took my time with him and he broke his maiden nicely, but then we had that dreadful day when he was beaten in a handicap at Leicester. His blood was all wrong though. I love the Leger but there's no way he's a Leger horse, he's too quick."
O'Brien again had to settle for the runner-spot in the Queen's Vase, but many observers felt his Century should have been promoted to the No 1 spot in the stewards' room after being hampered close home by the wayward first-past-the-post Hartnell.
After getting a great run up the inside, Joe Fanning sent Hartnell for home a furlong a half out, but having dashed three lengths clear, Mark Johnston's charge began to idle and drifted off the rail.
In the meantime, Joseph O'Brien galvanised a tremendous late run from Century down the centre and the two came together just before the line, with Hartnell prevailing by a neck. A lengthy inquiry ensued, before the placings were announced as unaltered.
Louis The Pious caused a 33/1 shock in the concluding Buckingham Palace Stakes, yet another feather in the training cap of Cork native David O'Meara who, just for good measure, also saddled the third-placed Watchable.
Top American owner George Bolton got his first taste of Royal Ascot success with his first horse in Britain when the Ed Dunlop-trained Contributer beat the Queen's Bold Sniper by half-a-length under a wonderful ride from George Baker, who was sitting in last place turning into the home straight in the Wolferton Handicap. (© Daily Telegraph, London)