Coronation Stakes (Group 1) (Fillies)
1 Ghanaati 2/1 Fav
Ghanaati Queen of the Fillies
A brilliant display and track-record victory by Ghanaati in the Coronation Stakes created a wave of emotions at Royal Ascot today, as the family of trainer Barry Hills celebrated the filly’s success.
Owned and bred by Sheikh Hamdan, Ghanaati won the 1,000 Guineas in April and looked even more impressive today, crossing the line in a time of 1m 38.32s, 0.38 seconds faster than the previous best for Ascot’s round-mile, set by Henrythenavigator in the St James’s Palace Stakes last year.
Hills has been hospitalised for the past five weeks, and the seriousness of his condition - he has been suffering from blood poisoning - was summed up by winning jockey Richard Hills, who said: “I nearly lost my dad - thank God I didn’t. He’s on his way home today. This victory means more to me than any race I’ve ever won. I’m very proud and admit I’ve worn my heart on my sleeve.
“Dad helped me this morning [by phone] when he said ‘keep her safe and she’ll do the rest’ and I kept that in the back of my mind.”
Hills’ brother, Charlie, who is assistant trainer to his father and who has looked after the string at South Bank Stables, said: “Dad left hospital today and is on his way home, although I doubt he saw the race. It’s been lovely to look after so many fine horses, but it’s been a long five weeks.
“Dad had started getting on the phone a bit more lately, so we knew he was improving. He has been suffering from blood poisoning - he had radiotherapy last year [when a throat cancer patient] and still thinks he’s 30!”
Referring to the filly, Charlie said: “She’s still improving and that was only the fourth race of her career.”
Of Ghanaati’s track record, Richard Hills said: “It felt pretty good from where I was sitting. I’ve watched so many runnings of the Coronation Stakes, so to break the record is an honour.
“She felt a lot better today [compared to on the day of the Guineas] and Charlie prepared her beautifully. She’s been giving me a fantastic feel at home and she’s definitely improved. It was a very good race on paper with two other Guineas winners [Again and Elusive Wave] in the field.
“Once the race began to sort itself out I was happy as Larry. It was just a matter of when I was going to let the handbrake off, and when I did she was ready to go. I probably went sooner than ideal, but I could feel her building up and I thought ‘let’s have it’.”
LACK OF EXPERIENCE COSTS REGGANE
French raider Reggane put in a great effort when coming from the rear of the Coronation Stakes field to finish second, two lengths behind the winner Ghanaati.
“She paid for her lack of experience and was a bit outpaced early on because when the winner went she had a lot to do,” said the runner-up’s trainer Alain de Royer Dupre.
“She passed a lot of fillies but the race was over by that time. She won’t be going over further than a mile and will probably go for the Prix d’Astarte at Deauville next.”
Trainer John Gosden was delighted with the effort of third-placed Rainbow View. “I’m thrilled with her run and she did find the ground a little fast today.
“She had trouble finding a gap but when she did get through she flew up the straight.
“She had a difficult time on the firm ground (in the 1000 Guineas) at Newmarket and then she has run so well just two weeks on from finishing fourth in the Oaks. I’m delighted that she has showed that she’s trained on well.
“She’ll get a mile and a quarter no problem and should get a mile and a half well later on. The ground makes a huge difference to her, she flies through the soft and I look forward to taking these fillies on again under different conditions.”
Jean-Claude Rouget felt that the French 1,000 Guineas heroine Elusive Wave ran too freely in fourth place.
“She ran a bit fast in the first two furlongs with a bad draw. She couldn’t hide behind horses and lost one or two places. It’s hard to do that all the way,” said Rouget. “She’ll go for the Prix d’Astarte at Deauville next.”
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