|Handicap, Ascot 17:00
2m 4f, Class 2
|Tuesday 16th June 2015|
1 Clondaw Warrior 5/1F
2 Fun Mac 8/1
3 Elishpour 25/1
4 Noble Silk 20/1
5 Ray Ward 11/2
NR: Noble Gift
19 ran Distances: ½l, 1½l, 2l
TIME 4m 20.52s (slow by 0.52s)
Ryan Moore wins the Ascot Stakes with a perfectly-timed challenge on Clondaw Warrior for Willie Mullins
The Willie Mullins-trained Clondaw Warrior stayed on gamely to win the Ascot Handicap by half a length under Ryan Moore. The eight-year-old was out the back for most of the two and a half mile race before being brought to the front by Moore inside the final furlong.
Mullins said: "None of us gave Ryan any order on how to ride him. We let him do what he wanted as he is so good round here.
"The only thing I said to Ryan was that the horse had one burst of speed. I thought that had finished with 100 yards remaining, when the runner-up tried to come upsides, but Clondaw Warrior pulled it out again. Everything went great for him.
"I think the ground made the difference as he never pulled out that sort of effort over hurdles. He enjoyed that really quick fast ground. I didn't think he would be able to get back up because he normally just has that one burst but thankfully he found more today."
As for the future, Mullins will now send the horse for a tilt at the Galway Hurdle. He added: "This was the plan to come here as the owners wanted a runner at Royal Ascot. We felt we had to take our chance and it worked. The Galway Hurdle will be the second part of the plan."
Moore said the horse's staying power was the pivotal factor: "I was flat out the whole way, but this horse stays so well and that has made a big difference.
"I was never going well, but when we turned in the leaders started coming back and I knew he would keep going."
Moore was effusive in his praise of the winning trainer. He added: "I would say Willie (Mullins) has trained him for this race for a long time and, when it comes to targeting these races, there are few better than him."
The trials and tribulations of handicapping were uppermost in the mind of trainer Hughie Morrison after his Fun Mac had finished second.
Four-year-old Fun Mac had been an easy winner at Salisbury last month on his first start since being gelded, but the triumph resulted in a 14lb rise in his handicap mark. The size of the handicap increase almost certainly cost the horse victory, for he was beaten just half a length by winner Clondaw Warrior from Willie Mullins' stable.
The third home, beaten a further one and a half lengths, was another challenger from Ireland, Elishpour, who ran for Tony Martin's yard.
Morrison said of Fun Mac: "Considering he missed five days' work with a bruised foot ten days ago, he has run an absolute blinder.
"I can't say that's cost him the race - I think winning at Salisbury and going up 14lb has cost him the race. Giving 7lb to the winner was very tough.
"He was ridden to stay by Richard [Hughes], but the weight concession was too much. He is in the Northumberland Plate [at Newcastle] in 11 days' time, but he's had a hard race today so we'll see how he is before deciding.
"I'm terribly disappointed because he did everything right, but you cannot win handicaps here with a horse that is murdered between races - he [the handicapper] had it about right, but it's tough."
Ascot Stakes Handicap
£60,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 4f, Class 2
Going: Good to Firm
|Pos||Draw||Dist||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||(19)||Clondaw Warrior (IRE) 5/1f||R L Moore
|W P Mullins||8|
|2nd||(7)||½||Fun Mac (GER) 8/1||R Hughes
|3rd||(5)||1½||Elishpour (IRE) 25/1||W J Lee
|A J Martin||5|
|4th||(4)||2||Noble Silk 20/1||Oisin Murphy
|Mrs L Wadham||6|
|5th||(12)||nse||Ray Ward (IRE) 11/2||Jim Crowley
|D M Simcock||5|
|6th||(18)||½||Broxbourne (IRE) 8/1||J P Spencer
|N J Henderson||6|
|7th||(15)||1||Digeanta (IRE) 15/2||P J Smullen
|W P Mullins||8|
|8th||(20)||2¼||Hurricane Higgins (IRE) 16/1||J Fanning
|N J Henderson||7|
|9th||(13)||4½||Asbury Boss (IRE) 14/1||S Foley
|10th||(3)||2||Buckland (IRE) 33/1||Martin Lane
|11th||(14)||5||Lycidas (GER) 10/1||S Donohoe
|12th||(2)||4||Rhombus (IRE) 33/1||Cam Hardie (3)
|13th||(9)||14||Big Thunder 25/1||L Morris
|Sir Mark Prescott||5|
|14th||(1)||14||Boite (IRE) 14/1||M Dwyer
|15th||(17)||3½||Handazan (IRE) 40/1||P Hanagan
|B I Case||6|
|16th||(8)||3¼||Hardstone (USA) 16/1||F M Berry
|J P Murtagh||4|
|17th||(16)||11||Statutory (IRE) 20/1||James Doyle
|S bin Suroor||5|
|18th||(10)||63||Shwaiman (IRE) 16/1||L Dettori
|19th||(11)||5||Royal Irish Hussar (IRE) 33/1||J P O'Brien
|N J Henderson||5|
|NR||(6)||Noble Gift 33/1||Callum Shepherd (7)
|W J Knight||5|