Britain repels international raiders at Royal Ascot

Group 1 winners Ghanaati and Art Connossieur regained the high ground for Britain on the final two days at Royal Ascot.

After a week of feature events dominated by Australia, America and France, the home defence repelled the international raiders for G1 victories in the Coronation Stakes on Friday and the Golden Jubilee Stakes on Saturday.

Ghanaati broke the track record when she powered clear to win the G1 Coronation (1600m) in 1.38.32s.  The Sheikh Hamdan owned filly had won the English 1000 Guineas and that form-line stood up as she raced away from French 1000 Guineas winner Elusive Wave (Elusive City) and Irish 1000 Guineas winner Again (Unbridled’s Song).

Trainer Barry Hills was winning his second Coronation Stakes with the Shadwell homebred.  He also scored with Maids Causeway when the Royal meeting was transferred to York in 2005.

His son, winning rider Richard Hills, said Ghanaati performed beautifully.  “She’s the best filly I’ve ridden without a doubt.  Dad never lets me let the handbrake off her at home and for a very good reason.”

Ghanaati (3f Giant’s Causeway–Sarayir by Mr. Prospector) is from the same family as Nayef, Nashwan and Unfuwain and her name means “my love” in Arabic.

Art Connossieur provided trainer Michael Bell with a surprise victory over a strong international contingent in the G1 Golden Jubilee Stakes.

Last year’s Coventry Stakes winner landed a 40-1 to 20-1 gamble when he defeated US sprinter Cannonball and long-shot Lesson In Humility.

South African raider J J The Jet Plane and Hong Kong star Sacred Kingdom finished fourth and fifth respectively while Aussie veteran Takeover Target was a late scratching due to a high temperature.

“He fractured a cannon bone after winning the Coventry,” Bell recalled as rider Tom Queally brought the winner back to scale.  “We turned down telephone numbers for him last year and I was slightly regretting it over the winter but it now looks the right decision.

“He had been working very nicely but this is still a big surprise.  I thought he was a boy against men, but he answered every call and Tom gave him a peach of a ride.”

Art Connoisseur (3c Lucky Story – Withorwithoutyou by Danehill) was a 55,000gns buy at Tattersalls in October 2007.  He is by Kris S. sire Lucky Story and is related to Balanchine (Storm Bird), a G1 winner of the 1994 English Oaks and Irish Derby for Godolphin.

Art Connoisseur may run next against Scenic Blast in the G1 July Cup at Newmarket next month.

The final day crowd at Royal Ascot on Saturday was a record 78,790 for a single day at the meeting.  However, the attendance at this year’s meeting was 278,027, down nearly 10,000 on the 2008 figures.