The Australian stranglehold on Royal Ascot sprints was broken today by the weather and a horse which once came within four minutes of being put down.
Soldiers Tale, the horse in question, got up in the last few strides to deny antipodean raider Takeover Target in the Golden Jubilee Stakes, the highlight of the last day of this years Royal meeting.
A heavy shower just before the race began helped Soldiers Tale for whom six furlongs is the bare minimum.
I told Johnny Murtagh that if he was within three lengths of the lead at half way hed come home very strongly, said an emotional winning trainer Jeremy Noseda.
Id like to thank the owner for his patience. Hes six years old and this was only the eighth race of his life. I was delighted the rain came, every drop the better for him.
He also recounted the story of how the vets had all but given up on the horse when he suffered a severe bout of colic.
Hes my favourite horse. He sticks his tongue out and his stable nickname is Spam. He spent three months in veterinary hospital after developing complications with a colic operation. He has such a will to live.
The runner-up, Takeover Target trained by an Australia taxi-driver Joe Janiak, was a heroic second and has now, in four runs at Ascot, never been out of the first three — a remarkable record. Miss Andretti, Tuesdays Kings Stand Stakes winner never figured in this race and finished well down the field in 15th.
There was another pulsating finish in the Hardwicke Stakes when the remarkably consistent Maraahel, winner of the race a year ago, held on in a driving finish from Scorpion by half a length to belatedly open Sir Michael Stoutes account for the week. Until then hed had a frustrating week with four close seconds.
I think at six hes better than ever, said Stoute. We ran him in a visor but weve put blinkers on this season and hes won three from four so we wont be taking them off.
The Wokingham Handicap went to the Andrew Balding trained Dark Missile who gave owner Jeff Smith a second winner for the week. It was a first Royal Ascot winner for racings rising star William Buick. For a 5lb claimer he punches well above his weight and this is likely to be the first of many.
Don’t miss Horse & Hound’s full report from Royal Ascot in next Thursday’s magazine (28 June, ’07)