Skip to content

Royal Ascot: Haatem holds on in Jersey thriller

Haatem battled bravely to secure victory in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, fending off Kikkuli by the barest of margins in East Berkshire. Also on the day, Bedtime Story shot to the head of ante-post lists for next year's 1000 Guineas following a superb display in the Chesham Stakes

Haatem battles to the line
Image: Haatem battles to the line

Haatem enjoyed a deserved day in the sun after clinging on grimly to claim a thrilling renewal of the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Winner of the Craven Stakes in April, Richard Hannon's three-year-old returned to Newmarket to finish third in the 2000 Guineas before finding only his esteemed stablemate Rosallion too strong in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh three weeks later.

With Rosallion having given the form a major boost by landing the St James's Palace Stakes on Tuesday, Haatem was given his opportunity to shine on the final day of the Royal meeting, carrying the colours of Wathnan Racing for the first time in the hands of James Doyle.

Winning jockey James Doyle
Image: Winning jockey James Doyle

With 13/8 favourite River Tiber finding disappointingly little when push came to shove, Haatem (7/2) moved nicely to the front and looked set to win handsomely after taking a couple of lengths out of the field.

However, the Harry Charlton-trained Kikkuli - half-brother to the mighty Frankel by top sire Kingman - really found his feet late on and the pair passed the post almost as one.

Get racing news on your phone
Get racing news on your phone

Never miss a story with all the latest racing news, interviews and features on your phone. Find out more

Following a brief wait, the judge confirmed Haatem had held on by a short head, with the Johnny Murtagh-trained Chicago Critic (80/1) in third.

"He's deserved this. It's a Group Three, but it's not, it's Royal Ascot," said Hannon.

Latest Racing Stories

"He carried a penalty, he got there very easy and he deserved his day in the sun. Hopefully he'll have plenty more.

"It was a very deep race, there were 20 runners and it was not your normal Jersey.

"It's great for Wathnan, they bought a lot of horses and it was so important they had success and they've earned it.

"There are so many options for him, we'll travel a bit, there's a lot of races for him in Australia, France and America, but he'll go back over a mile, it was a bit of a risk going back down to seven.

"In fairness both James Doyle and Jamie Spencer who have ridden him recently said he'd have no problem dropping down to seven and they were right.

"I don't think there's any need for him to take on Rosallion again. I wouldn't enjoy watching that. I didn't mind watching the Irish Guineas back afterwards, but it's not enjoyable at the time.

"He's a horse that deserves everything he gets. He cost just £27,000, and that says a lot about our sport, a lot of it good. He's here taking part with a penalty at the top level. It shows it's possible, which you can't say about many sports."

Of Kikkuli, Charlton said: "We're delighted with him. Oisin (Murphy) said it was a bit of a head up, head down - he rode him to follow Haatem, and James Doyle on a miler started stretching two down. Oisin said he's run great. It's a shame to be second twice (after King's Gambit earlier in the week), but we won't take anything away from the horse, he's run great against a hardened Group One horse who's had a lot more experience than him.

"Barry (Mahon, of Juddmonte) texted me this morning and said, 'He's 25-1', and I said, 'Well, Karl Burke's horse that was 5-1 for the Guineas (Night Raider) is bigger than us - it's a proper race and a there are a lot of 110-plus horses', and he's run outstandingly, really.

"Oisin said seven or eight furlongs. I think actually what looked key there was having pace. He travelled probably the best of them; he enjoyed the pace and the quick ground.

"I watched them down at the start and he was probably the one horse not sweating. He's from an exuberant family, and by Kingman, and this lad is absolutely bombproof."

Bedtime Story charges to emphatic Chesham victory

Bedtime Story shot to the head of ante-post lists for next year's 1000 Guineas following a scintillating display in the Chesham Stakes on the final day at Royal Ascot.

A winner as an apparent second string for Aidan O'Brien at Leopardstown little over a fortnight ago, the daughter of Frankel and top-class sprinting mare Mecca's Angel was a well-supported 11-8 favourite to double her tally.

Bedtime Story rockets home
Image: Bedtime Story rockets home

Always travelling well in the slipstream of the keen-going pacesetter Motawahij, Bedtime Story left her rivals standing once given her head by Ryan Moore, accelerating an astonishing nine and a half lengths clear of her toiling rivals, with Pentle Bay pipping Brian to the runner-up spot.

O'Brien said: "We never let her go before, it's the first time we've asked her to stretch and she just took off. We've treated her gently, she has unbelievable pedigree and she's obviously very special.

Royal Ascot - live on Sky Sports Racing!
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.

"Ryan said he couldn't believe it; he said everyone fell away, he said 'go on', and she just took off. He didn't even give her a slap down the shoulder.

"It's unusual for a filly to do that, she'd won nicely first time but we thought she was a Group One filly.

"You all saw what I saw, we won't be looking for one that's better, that is for sure."

Follow Sky Sports Racing on Twitter
Follow Sky Sports Racing on Twitter

See the latest horse racing news, interviews and features from Sky Sports Racing

Moore said: "The only I time worked was pulling up really. She travelled very easy, they've gone too slow for her really.

"I had room at the three so we started going forward and the race was over very quickly. Obviously, she's a level above all of them."

When asked about comparisons with the stable's Albany Stakes winner Fairy Godmother, he added: "It's a hard one. They haven't really been asked to do too much at home. We don't know a whole about them, we don't know what they've beaten yet, but they are two very exciting fillies.

"A performance like that, you don't see normally."

On how he will keep Fairy Godmother and Bedtime Story apart, O'Brien added: "There are plenty of races for them all, I think. She'll be staying at seven furlongs, obviously."

Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, two of the Coolmore triumvirate along with John Magnier, were suitably impressed.

Smith said: "I asked Ryan if she was as good as she looked and he said 'absolutely'. You can't get better than that. They don't win like that here. I'm speechless really."

While Tabor said: "We expected her to win, but you never expect an animal to win the way she did.

"Unfortunately for Godolphin (Age Of Gold), the second in, which we thought was the obvious danger, was never going well. So I thought, in-running, that we would win. To win by nine or 10 lengths is incredible, though.

"Her and Fairy Godmother were both spectacular."

Hand Of God scores Golden Gates winner for Harry Charlton

On the 38th anniversary of the Diego Maradona goal that knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup, Hand Of God was an appropriate winner of the Golden Gates Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Having rounded off his juvenile campaign with a maiden victory at Newmarket, the Harry Charlton-trained colt won on his handicap debut at Sandown in April and was a 9/4 favourite to complete the hat-trick in the hands of William Buick.

The son of Churchill picked up well once asked to go about his business and passed the post with a length and three-quarters in hand over Cambridge, with Black Run third.

It was a deserved victory this week for Charlton after King's Gambit came from the clouds to finish second in the Hampton Court Stakes in the same colours on Thursday, while Kikkuli was beaten just a short head in the Jersey Stakes earlier on Saturday's card.

Charlton said: "He didn't have a great trip, but he had a clear run and picked up very quick and William thought he almost got there too soon.

"It was hard to plan as the complexion of the race changed so much with the non-runners as we were originally drawn 17 of 19 and it came down to 10 of 12 so it wasn't as bad as it first looked

"The plan was to be mid-div and not three off the rail, I think he was further back than planned and he was three off the rail so it didn't go to plan, but he picked up great.

"I think he's still a 10-furlong horse; he's got a great mind and is good physically. He's not done much wrong and I guess he's probably due a step up in class. He works with King's Gambit, so we were all quite confident.

"Credit to Mohammed Jaber as he's had a tough week with what happened to King's Gambit, we all thought we were a bit unlucky that day so for him to get a winner is important."

Buick said: "I know there were a few non-runners, but to be drawn 17 at a mile and a quarter is a notoriously hard draw. We got in where we could and got a lovely rhythm. To be honest, when he picked up early in the straight, he was pretty instant and progressive to the line.

"He gave me a really good feel. He's very comfortable at a mile and a quarter, I would say that he's been needing this trip. He's a young horse going places."

He added: "King's Gambit in the Hampton Court was a very unlucky loser. We kind of lost it at the start, unfortunately, where we got back and then the race was getting away from us - there wasn't much of a pace and it was very much a Plan B sort of ride.

"It wasn't the plan to ride him (King's Gambit) like that at all, but it was through unfortunate circumstances and he ran very well to finish second as close as he did. I believe he should have won, but he's a nice horse for the future, and Hand Of God winning now gives some compensation."

Around Sky