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The St James’s Palace Stakes

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History

Look down the list of recent winning trainers of the one mile St James’s Palace Stakes on the first day of Royal Ascot and one name stands out – apart from Aidan O’Brien, of course, who has hogged the headlines with six triumphs since 2000. That name? Mick Channon, the former England international footballer. Now a highly respected trainer, he won this Group 1 race for three-year-old colts with Zafeen in 2003.

Go back another year and you find another football connection, when the O’Brien-trained Rock of Gibraltar won – wearing Manchester United colours. Rock of Gibraltar was co-owned by United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, although the exact nature of that ownership ended in a bitter dispute with John Magnier that threatened to end up in the courts.

Restricted to three-year-old colts, the race is a natural follow-up race for the winners of the English, Irish and French 2000 Guineas.

Brilliant milers Frankel and Dawn Approach were the most recent horses to win both the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes in 2011 and 2013 respectively. An equally brilliant miler, Kingman, won in 2014.

Named after St James’s Palace, a royal residence during Tudor times, the race was first run in 1834 – to general apathy. Only one horse entered.

Current leading jockey: Kieren Fallon, 2 wins (1998, 2012)
Current leading trainer: Aidan O’Brien, 6 wins (2000-1-2, 2007-8-9)

Previous winners

Year Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Prize money

Entries

Going/Track

Weather

No/Draw Horse/Jockey Age Form/Type BHA Rating Weight Trainer Odds

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Barney Roy the boy as Churchill fluffs lines

Barney Roy confirmed himself a top-notch performer with victory, in a record time, in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The Richard Hannon-trained colt, ridden by James Doyle, emphatically turned the tables on Churchill, his conqueror in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. The later started the 1-2 favourite but could do no better than fourth, as Barney Roy beat Lancaster Bomber and another Godolphin runner, Thunder Snow, by one length and a head.

Hannon said: “We felt he was unlucky in the Guineas [when stumbling in the Dip], and if he was unlucky he would win today, and so it proved. We have massive respect for Churchill, and I don’t think he has run his true race today, but we were there to take advantage.

“I was frustrated after the Guineas because he was a little inexperienced – that was what beat him. He nodded going into the Dip, lost his stride, and I thought he had broken down.

“To his credit he quickened up against horses that were already quickening, while Churchill got a lovely run, which was well executed by them. I felt that a flatter track here, without any undulations, would play to his strengths. James came down and rode him around a right-hand bend at Kempton last week, and he worked brilliantly on Sunday, and it’s all paid off.”

Looking to the future, he said: “I’m sure our horse will get further – he’s in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes and the Arc. He takes time to pick up and he’s very relaxed, but a horse having just his fourth race, and to beat a Guineas winner, is very good.

“We’ll take him home, see how he is, and talk to Sheikh Mohammed. He’s done nothing wrong over a mile, so don’t get me wrong, but he will get further.”

A jubilant Doyle said: “That is only the fourth run of his life and he is still learning. He is very babyish, but he is learning all the time and he has come out on top at the line. I knew that given a bit of time and some room, he would be motoring and he proved that today.

“I knew we could draw a line through the 2000 Guineas as that race was a complete mess. We knew he had an engine and it was just about channelling that in the right direction.”

He added: “Today means everything. This is why I joined the team to ride big winners like this. To get one on a day like today with Sheikh Mohammed here makes me feel very proud. It’s very important and there’s a great sense of pride to ride him a proper Group One winner at Royal Ascot.

“Looking at Churchill’s replays again and again, trying to find a chink in his armour, it did not look like there was. I thought he was either an outstanding horse who only does enough or he is just a good horse. Luckily, he is just a good horse and we have got one a bit better.”

Aidan O’Brien was delighted with Lancaster Bomber, who finished second, but mystified by Churchill’s flat effort. He said: “I don’t think the ground was an issue. I don’t have any plans for him.”

Ryan Moore, Churchill’s jockey, said: “He was never comfortable. I’m not sure why.”

Third, a head behind Lancaster Bomber, was Thunder Snow, trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by Christophe Soumillon.

Saeed Bin Suroor said: “I’m happy with him – he ran really well. I think he would be better with easy ground, but I’m happy with the way he ran.”

Results

Position Horse Jockey Trainer Owner
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The Course

British horseracing can lay claim to plenty of blue-blooded connections, but none rival those of Ascot. The Berkshire racecourse’s roots go back 300 years to Queen Anne, who recognised the potential of a stretch of heath land while out riding just a few miles from Windsor Castle.

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The royal link has endured ever since. Today, Queen Elizabeth II and members of the Royal Family attend the world-famous ‘Royal Ascot’ meeting each year, arriving in a horse drawn carriage. Royal Ascot, meanwhile, has earned iconic status as a centrepiece of the social calendar, when the world’s best thoroughbreds face fierce competition from the world’s most extravagant fashion designs.

Ascot, which underwent a £200 million redevelopment between 2004-6, also hosts the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes sponsored by QIPCO in July, the most prestigious open-age Flat race staged in Britain.

It will also host the inaugural QIPCO British Champions Day in October which will be the richest raceday ever staged in Britain with over £4.2m in prize money and the climax to the QIPCO British Champions Series.  Including the five category finales on QIPCO British Champions Day, Ascot stages no less than 13 of the 35 QIPCO British Champions Series races.

What sort of horses like Ascot? Horses that like right-handed courses. And what sort of people? People who like champagne and scones, apparently. During the five-day Royal Ascot meeting in 2010, 60,000 bottles of champagne and 40,000 scones were consumed. Lobsters, meanwhile, don’t like Royal Ascot – 1,500 of them were eaten over that same period.

Getting there

Ascot
Berkshire
SL5 7JX

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