A thrilling battle between the winners of Europe’s major 2000 Guineas races in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot today resulted in a win for Galileo Gold, trained by Hugo Palmer for Sheikh Joaan’s Al Shaqab Racing, and ridden with trademark elan by Frankie Dettori.
The winner landed Newmarket’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas at the end of April – the first race in the QIPCO British Champions Series – but was then beaten by Awtaad in the Irish 2,000 Guineas. Meanwhile, The Gurkha won the French 2000 Guineas.
Today, 6-1 shot Galileo Gold turned the tables on his Curragh conqueror, coming home a length and a quarter ahead of The Gurkha, the 4-5 favourite, with Awtaad a further half-length back in third.
Asked how his horse turned the tables on Awtaad, Palmer said: “I don’t know how we turned it around, and I’m not sure we did. He ran a huge race in Ireland, but he wasn’t able to use his stride there – he was out perfectly quick enough but the best horse won on the day.
“In the Newmarket Guineas and again today his stride was never broken – Frankie was able to get the horse into the most magnificent rhythm and he just galloped and galloped. That’s what he needs. It just shows how at every level in sport you need everything to go right. One little thing went wrong in Ireland and we finished second, today everything went right and we won. That’s the difference.
“It was a tough challenge but Galileo Gold is the 2000 Guineas winner and the Newmarket Guineas is the best Group One of the year. When the ratings come out at the end of the year, it is the best Group One and we had to hold that up, having been beaten in Ireland. Life did not go well in Ireland but it went much today and he got the most magnificent ride from the widest draw. He has done it and I think it is fair to say he has proved himself to be the best three-year-old colt in Europe.
“No one knows their way around here better than Frankie Dettori and it’s one of the great treats of the horse being owned by Sheikh Joaan that I am able to call upon Frankie [who is retained by the Sheikh] to ride this colt. It takes a lot of the variables out.
“He [Galileo Gold] is so quick out of the stalls that we followed Godolphin’s pacemaker [Cymric] and the rest were behind us all the way. I thought the two pacemakers would go forward, that Awtaad and The Gurkha would get boxed in, and while their jockeys were too cute for that, they were a long way out of their ground, while Galileo Gold was able to sit on the pace. He has five-furlong speed, and everyone could see today why he didn’t run in the Derby, because Frankie was restraining him at champion-mile pace behind the leader. That would have gone all wrong at Epsom.
“If the horse had been beaten today and Frankie had come in and said ‘let’s go a mile and a quarter’ the Eclipse might have been a consideration, but they have to come and beat us in the [Qatar] Sussex Stakes. Since his owner sponsors the race I would think we will go there next.”
Dettori said: “Everything went to plan. There were three Guineas winners and I managed to get first run on the other two. Hugo was ultra-nervous today and he made me feel nervous too just talking to him. Galileo Gold has redeemed himself. He is a 2000 Guineas winner, a St James’s Palace Stakes winner and a great horse to have.”
Aidan O’Brien said of the runner-up: “We were delighted and there will be plenty more times – the year is long. We will be looking forward to running our horse next time – he travelled, quickened and was coming home very well.”
Kevin Prendergast felt the ground had beaten Awtaad. “It was very holding horrible, sticking ground. ” said the trainer.