1 Radiohead 10/1
Radiohead Rocks in Norfolk
A full broadside a furlong and a half from home in a dramatic renewal of the Group Two Norfolk Stakes was not enough to stop the scintillating forward surge of Radiohead that ended trainer Brian Meehan’s seven-year Royal Ascot drought.
The 10/1 shot was sweeping past rivals with ease down the stands’ side when American pace-setter Yogaroo veered sideways into the Richard Hughes-ridden Monsieur Chevalier, who in turn cannoned into Jamie Spencer’s mount, hampering the momentum of the eventual winner, who landed the spoils by two lengths.
Spencer said: "I thought we had no chance. When you get a bang like that, heading to the furlong pole in a five-furlong group race, then you just think that it’s curtains. I couldn’t believe he was able to get going - it was disbelief that he passed them so quickly towards the end.
"I was shaking my head in the last 100 yards and couldn’t believe it because Richard has hit me side on and generally when that happens the horse gets winded and it’s so hard to get back from it. It’s hard to win races when everything goes right without getting hit like that.
"He hit me side on, broadside, and I had to stop for three or four strides to get him balanced and off Richard’s heels. It’s just surreal, really.
“He wasn’t going half pace in behind, he was going about quarter pace. He’s a fast horse - very fast. I knew the American horse would give me a good lead but I was delighted with the way he picked up. It was hair-raising the way he was passing other horses - surreal. He got wiped out and still won!”
Meehan, whose last Royal Ascot triumph came in the 2002 Queen Mary Stakes with Romantic Liaison, thought all chance of victory had passed.
He said: “It was a tremendous performance by the horse to recover and win the way he did. You have no chance when that happens and I couldn’t believe he was able to get going again. Jamie had him in the right place and was just unlucky to get a knock.
“I looked away because I thought the race was over, then I looked back and he was in front. He was strong enough to take it and the way he picked up and recovered was admirable.”
Radiohead was ponied to the start of the five-furlong contest by his companion Pistolero, who was also on hand at the finish to accompany him off the track.
Meehan revealed: "We tend to keep Radiohead nice and quiet at home and not do too much with him because he’s fairly electrifying.
"The pony is there and you might as well use him. It’s a great thing for these two-year-olds, it takes the edge off them and keeps them relaxed. We did the same with the filly yesterday. The pony’s there, he’s good at it and it seems the ideal thing to do."
“It was always very clear that he was a stakes horse. The thing about Royal Ascot is that they have to develop very quickly. It was pretty clear around March time that he was going to be one for here.
“It’s always a tough meeting for us - it’s been a while since we had a winner here.”
The Johannesburg colt, owned by Carmen Burrell and Jonathan Harvey, could make his next start at Maisons-Laffitte in France.
Meehan continued: “We’re going to have a lot of fun with him now. It was nice to win like he did because now we can go and take on those nice two-year-olds that have won here. The Prix Robert Papin looks a possibility but I’ll talk to Jamie first and see what he says.”
REIGNIER DELIGHTS BURKE
A last-minute decision by trainer Karl Burke to enter Reignier in the Norfolk Stakes paid off when the Kheleyf colt finished an excellent second, beaten two lengths by Radiohead.
“I was tracking the entries closing for this race and saw there were only 10 in there so I put him in, but I was hoping for fifth or sixth place so am delighted,” said Burke.
“I’ve always liked him a lot and he only cost £25,000. The key with him is the ground, last time when he was second at Musselburgh they were just taking the top off it and he didn’t like that at all.
“I still own part of him and he’s for sale. We’ll take him home and have a think but I’ve no real plans for him.”
Mick Channon, trainer of third-placed Tawaabb, said: “I’m delighted and have no complaints. There’s more improvement to come and he can go for some nice races, I’m not bothered whether they are over five or six.”
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