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  • 16:20 Prince Of Wales's Stakes 1m 2f

  • (British Champions Series) (Group 1) £525,000 added 4yo+ 9 ran
  • Winner £297,728 2nd £112,875 3rd £56,490 4th £28,140
  • Going: Good to Firm (Firm in places)
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 2m 5.07s
  • Off time: 16:20:50

Free Eagle wins the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot

Last Updated: 17/06/15 7:37pm

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Free Eagle fends off The Grey Gatsby to win a thrilling Prince Of Wales's Stakes

Free Eagle fends off The Grey Gatsby to win a thrilling Prince Of Wales's Stakes

Free Eagle was a narrow winner of the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot from an unlucky looking The Grey Gatsby.

The winner and 5/2 favourite was perfectly placed on the shoulders of the free-running Gailo Chop by Pat Smullen.

The leader gradually settled and the pace appeared to slow with the field stacking up in behind and Jamie Spencer notably had to snatch up The Grey Gatsby on two occasions before the home turn.

Spencer again found himself short of room in the straight and had to engineer his own space with Western Hymn on his outsider denying him a run.

Free Eagle had already gone for home at that stage but, once in the clear, The Grey Gatsby began to make inroads into the advantage and he was in front just yards past the line.

The winning margin was a short-head with Western Hymn back in third and The Corsican coming home well in fourth.

Winning trainer Dermot Weld had warned that his charge was not quite where he wanted him to be coming into the race having missed his intended reappearance due to a cough and was duly delighted with the performance of his star colt.

"He got a brilliant ride, he's a very good horse," he said.

"When you've got a good horse it makes the training easy, but it hasn't been easy with him. He got a heavy head cold a few weeks ago and I thought today was very much in doubt, but we got him right on the day that mattered.

"Fitness on the day was my main concern, as I said - I had him as fit as I could get him with the limited preparation he had. He sticks his neck out and he battles.

"The Irish Champion Stakes will be on the agenda and I've always thought the Arc would be the race for him."

Smullen said: "I've never enjoyed a winner like it.

"I've been saying for so long how good I think this horse is and we've had a stop-start campaign with him, but he's shown today how good a horse he is.

"They didn't go over-fast but I committed soon enough and all credit to him, he kept going all the way to the line even though The Grey Gatsby came at me.

"I can't tell you how good a training performance this is, it hasn't been easy at all, he's done wonders with this horse to get him here today.

"I didn't think he'd be able to show his best today, but he did.

"I think this horse will improve for a mile and a half, but you could see his speed the way he quickened up today."

Weld has had winners in big races all over the world, from America to Australia and from Cheltenham to Galway, but few have given him greater pleasure.

The talented but fragile colt has had so many issues, seeing his racing career restricted to just four races in two years before he graced the Berkshire track in the successful pursuit of Group One honours.

Weld, who has shown unlimited patience with thoroughbreds throughout an illustrious training career that has seen him conquer the globe, always kept the faith and let the horse do his talking on the track.

"This horse has bags of courage and is a hard horse to beat," he went on.

"He had a stress fracture of the tibia last year and had to miss all the Classics. We got him back for the Champion Stakes here and that was run on heavy ground.

"The plan was to start him in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, but he got a bad head cold which delayed his comeback and his work. Fitness was my biggest concern and I had him as good as I could have with the limited preparation he'd had.

"You can't force fitness and ideally the race came two weeks too soon, but I had huge confidence in this horse's ability. It was a calculated risk and a personal triumph for me."

Kevin Ryan said of The Grey Gatsby: "In the first two furlongs I thought they were going to go a good pace but then they half pulled it up and he got locked up.

"In fairness, Jamie gave him a fantastic ride, it was a great horse race and he's back to his best.

"I knew we had him in great shape, he's got a long run with a lot of races coming up now, I was quietly confident he'd put up a big show.

"Fair dos to the winner, it was a great training performance but I'm not disappointed, I know the horse is back to his best and we can look forward.

"He's proved today what we've said about him all along," he added.

"He's in the Eclipse and he's in the King George over a mile and a half. We'll let the dust settle and see how the horse comes home. I'll speak to Jamie and Ryan (Moore) as well, I'm sure he'll have an opinion."

John Gosden said of Western Hymn: "It was a great run, a fabulous race and take nothing away from the first two.

"We probably wish we had a bit more pace in the race and that is where California Chrome might have helped us, but I'm over the moon."

David Simcock said of The Corsican: "I'm really pleased, it was just unfortunate he couldn't have been a bit closer."

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