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Royal Ascot: Isle Of Jura out on his own in Hardwicke

Isle Of Jura showcased his class to clinch victory in the Hardwicke Stakes on the final day at Royal Ascot. It was also jockey Callum Shepherd's first victory at the Royal meeting....

Isle Of Jura and Callum Shepherd...
Image: Isle Of Jura and Callum Shepherd...

The remarkable Isle Of Jura continued his fairy-tale campaign with a brilliant victory in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.

George Scott's charge was rated in the low 70s last year, but is fast becoming a middle-distance operator to be reckoned with after winning five races on the spin.

Following a winter hat-trick in Bahrain, the four-year-old made a successful return to Britain in the Listed Festival Stakes at Goodwood last month - but with Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe fifth Continuous among his rivals, he was sent off at 16/1 stepping up to Group Two level.

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Royal Ascot - live on Sky Sports Racing!

Watch every race from Royal Ascot, all live on Sky Sports Racing from Tuesday June 18 to Saturday June 22.

Partnered by Callum Shepherd, who earlier this season lost the ride on Derby runner-up Ambiente Friendly, the New Approach gelding moved to the heels of the pacesetters at the top of the home straight before finding a gear his rivals simply could not match.

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Such was the authority with which he won, Shepherd was able to take a look at the big screen in the closing strides before standing up in the stirrups to salute the crowd, with three and three-quarter lengths separating him and French raider Goliath at the line.

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Middle Earth was third, with 13/8 favourite Continuous back in fifth on what was his first competitive appearance since the Arc in October.

Scott said: "He's an exceptional racehorse and it was an exceptional race from start to finish. He was the right horse at the right time (in his career).

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"It's amazing. Just over a year ago he was well beaten in a Thirsk maiden. To do this for Sheikh Nasser (Victorious Racing), such a big supporter of mine, is very special.

"We are just blessed to have him, he's repaid us time and time again and the journey from hereon in is going to be very very special.

"Most best-laid plans go to pot, but this has been a long-term plan. This was an obvious race for him. We knew Goodwood would bring him on, and it has. We knew he would get the ground, and he has. It was a scintillating performance, so we shall enjoy it.

"Callum is a top-class rider he had his horse in the right position all the way, kicked nice and early and put the race to bed. It was a perfect ride. All roads lead to the King George, 100 per cent."

Shepherd said: "I'm really struggling to compose myself.

Joy for Callum Shepherd aboard Isle Of Jura...
Image: Joy for Callum Shepherd aboard Isle Of Jura...

"He's such a special horse for George and the team. Make no mistake, he never lets us down.

"Obviously the last six weeks have been very difficult, but that just feels very special."

Fresh from his winner on Friday, Francis-Henri Graffard said of Goliath: "We came here because we wanted to avoid the French style of racing, with no pace, and unfortunately today they decided to do a little bit of the same. My horse was a bit too keen through the race; he's difficult to manage, but not too bad today.

"I walked the course and there was a good cover of grass and I thought it was safe ground for him, but he's probably better with a bit of cut.

"He has to settle in his races to be able to stay and to produce a good turn of foot, but we are very pleased with the run - he's a very nice horse and we beat some very nice horses, too. He's entered in the King George, but we'll see what the weather forecast is. I don't know - it's a long journey and a tough race, but why not?"

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