Verse shows class in Coronation glory
They ran off with the Derby and yesterday, after a quiet start to Royal Ascot, the French returned with a bang for a one-two in the Coronation Stakes when Immortal Verse, trained by Robert Collet, showed a terrific turn of foot to beat Nova Hawk, trained by his son Rod.
Immortal Verse was withdrawn at the start of the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket and endured a bad run in the French equivalent, but yesterday she laid claim to being the fairer sex's best three-year-old miler in Europe when coming home two and a quarter lengths from her compatriot. Richard Fahey's Barefoot Lady finished a gallant third.
Collet Snr, who has trained some great horses in a long career including the 1986 King's Stand Stakes winner Last Tycoon, has always reckoned this filly was special and that it was merely a matter of time before she took a big one.
"At Newmarket," he explained, "it was very windy. The wind blew the blindfold off her when she was being loaded and she got irritated. The starter was not as patient with her as a French starter would have been. Then the French Guineas did not go to plan."
It is looking increasingly likely that Tuesday's St James's Palace winner Frankel will take on Canford Cliffs in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, potentially one of the great mile clashes of all time. But when Collet nominated the Prix D'Astarte in Deauville for Immortal Verse, it set up a not dissimilar clash in France between her and the grand old lady Goldikova, which finished second to Canford Cliffs here earlier this week. She has won the D'Astarte three times.
Aidan O'Brien's Together, the 7/2 favourite after finishing runner-up in the English and Irish Guineas, was fifth, with Ryan Moore reporting: "She didn't handle the ground."
Jim Bolger's Teolane was backed into 5/4 favourite in the opening Albany Stakes, but after an awkward exit from the stalls the filly never looked happy and trailed home behind Samitar, which struck for the Mick Channon stable.
A half-sister to Nijoom Dubai, which won this race for the same trainer in 2007, the 16/1 shot powered past Inetrobil inside the final furlong to take the Group Three prize. Given a vigorous ride by Gold Cup-winning jockey Jamie Spencer, Samitar secured victory by three quarters of a length from Inetrobil.
John Gosden finally got off the mark for the week when Nathaniel, which missed the Derby on account of the fast ground, ran away with the King Edward VII Stakes by five lengths from Fiorente, with O'Brien's Alexander Pope back in third.
Little over an hour later the trainer doubled up when Beachfire swooped to land the Wolferton Handicap. Both horses were ridden by William Buick.
Nathaniel was already ante-post favourite for the St Leger (at Doncaster in September) and this cemented his position at the head of the market.
Derby-winning teenager Mickael Barzalona must have sniffed his first Royal Ascot winner when he sent Godolphin's Lost In The Moment to the front a furlong and a half out in the Wolferton but, not for the first time this week, a jockey found that last 220 yards longer than a regulation furlong and he was caught by blinkered Beachfire.
It is not often that Mark Johnston goes home empty-handed from this meeting. His horses never know the meaning of defeat but when Solar Sky came to Namibian inside the final furlong of the Queen's Vase, the writing appeared to be on the wall.
Namibian was having none of it, however, and held on by a neck in a tremendous finish to become Johnston's 33rd Royal Ascot winner. Brian Meehan's Manassas revelled in the soft conditions under Martin Dwyer to capture the Buckingham Palace Handicap a length ahead of Excellent Guest. (© Daily Telegraph, London)