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Charyn Opens Royal Ascot With Impressive Queen Anne Win

Also Tuesday at Royal Ascot, Rosallion prevails in St. James's Palace Stakes (G1).

Charyn wins the Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot Racecourse

Charyn wins the Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot Racecourse

Mathea Kelley

Charyn got favorite backers off to a winning start at Royal Ascot June 18 with a hard-fought victory over Docklands in the Queen Anne Stakes (G1).

Charyn was held in a prominent position by Silvestre de Sousa in a group on the stands' side before being delivered with his winning run two furlongs out. He stayed on well to hold off Docklands, with Maljoom taking third.

It is a first group 1 victory for Nurlan Bizakov's colt, who arrived off the back of a promising second in the Lockinge Stakes (G1) last month. The victory also earned Charyn an automatic spot in the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Mile (G1T) at Del Mar thanks to the "Win and You're In" program.

It was the second Group 1 victory for de Sousa and trainer Roger Varian this year after the duo teamed up with surprise One Thousand Guineas winner Elmalka in May.

De Sousa told ITV: "Wow, it's amazing. Roger had a lot of belief in this horse and so did I. What I did there was very little, I just sat there and waited for the right moment, but he won quite nicely.  He's such a gentleman and you just have to ask him the question."

De Sousa's success comes after a tricky time for the three-time champion jockey. He completed a 10-month suspension for a betting charge while riding in Hong Kong in March.

He added: "Sometimes I have to pinch myself but I keep working hard and try to achieve new things."

Charyn and Silvestre De Sousa win the G1 Queen Anne Stakes Royal Ascot, Ascot, UK, June 18th, 2024, Mathea Kelley
Photo: Mathea Kelley
Silvestre De Sousa is all smiles aboard Charyn after the Queen Anne Stakes

Newmarket-based Varian was winning his 13th race at Royal Ascot but it was a first strike at the highest level.

He told ITV: "It doesn't get any better, a group 1 at Royal Ascot and in the first race of the meeting. I'm so delighted and for his owner Nurlan Bizakov, who has invested so much in the game and supported me for a number of years. For him, I'm so pleased and he's building a great operation.

"For my team I'm delighted, everyone works so hard at home. It's a big day and we'll enjoy it.

"You have to say he's improved as he's got older. He ran some fine races in defeat last season and he wasn't disgracing himself at the top table. He's found another level of form this year, and his run in the Lockinge last time out was outstanding. He's confirmed that today, so I'm thrilled."

Paddy Power cut Charyn to 4-1 (from 10) to follow up his win in the Sussex Stakes (G1) at Glorious Goodwood next month.

It proved a muddling race with the well-fancied Facteur Cheval and Big Rock, both traveling over from France, racing on the far side, but they dropped away, finishing sixth and 10th, respectively. Poker Face was pulled up.


Rosallion Takes St. James's Palace

Rosallion ran down Henry Longfellow in the final yards to win the St James's Palace Stakes (G1) after a brave ride down the inside for much of the race by Sean Levey. Metropolitan finished third.

Rosallion and Sean Levey winning the St Jame’s Palace Stakes Gr.1.<br>
Royal Ascot day 1.<br>
Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post<br>
Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post
Rosallion (yellow cap) wins the St James's Palace Stakes

Many had expected the St James's Palace Stakes to be the race of the week with the winners of the Two Thousand Guineas, Irish Two Thousand Guineas, and Poule d'Essai des Poulains (all G1) all lining up, and it did not disappoint.

The race was controlled from the front by the Aidan O'Brien-trained pair of Unquestionable, last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T) winner who led on the rail, and Henry Longfellow, who was parked on his stablemate's quarters on the outside. Metropolitan, the Poulains winner, tucked in behind the leaders, with Rosallion further back tight on the rail and Notable Speech near enough last in the Godolphin blue.

Turning for home, Unquestionable kicked up the pace and provided a perfect lead in for Henry Longfellow. William Buick opted to switch wide from the rear on Two Thousand Guineas winner Notable Speech but Sean Levey waited, hoping for a gap, on Rosallion. 

Levey's luck was in. The field broke apart entering the final furlong-and-a-half and Rosallion unleashed his powerful turn of foot. While Henry Longfellow held the advantage for most of the straight, it appeared inevitable that he would be run down, and it proved to be the case.

Levey said: "I knew it was going to be a bit tactical. He had to be good today and I just knew the stiff track would suit me, and boy was he good. He traveled so well and he picked up strongly—when he has something to aim at, he tries. 

"I'm hoping one day they go a really good gallop and he gets to show his true potential because at the moment he's shown how versatile he is."

Richard Hannon, who trains Rosallion, a son of Blue Point, for owner-breeder Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, was winning the St James's Palace Stakes for a second time, but was overcome by the performance of the winner.

"We've always thought he was an extremely good horse, and he's proved it before this. I'm just delighted," Hannon said, before briefly stopping to recompose himself. "I always thought he was going very well and we gave Sean a blank canvas to do what he thought was right. I love being a part of these races but winning them is very hard.

"Quite often you call these horses something that they're not because you want them to be the best horse you've trained, and you're disappointed. He's never let me down."


Australia's Asfoora Wins King Charles III Stakes

Trainer Henry Dwyer might be a master in self-deprecation, but he earned every plaudit thrown in his direction after masterminding the latest victory for an Australian sprinter at Royal Ascot, courtesy of Asfoora in the King Charles III Stakes (G1).

The race was a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) at Del Mar.

But as keen as Dwyer was to insist both he and Asfoora did not belong in the same company as those who have come from the other side of the world to conquer Ascot in the past, nobody could possibly fault the meticulous planning that went into Australia's sixth winner of the King Charles III.

Asfoora, a 6-year-old daughter of Flying Artie, has been based at Amy Murphy's yard in Newmarket since the end of April. She blew the cobwebs away with a fourth-place finish in the Temple Stakes at Haydock last month, and was produced at her peak to conquer the fastest horses in Europe.

Asfoora and Oisin Murphy win the G1 King Charles III Stakes Royal Ascot, Ascot, UK, June 18th, 2024, Mathea Kelley
Photo: Mathea Kelley
Asfoora powers to victory in the King Charles III Stakes

She had to come from behind two group 1 winners in Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1T) winner Big Evs, and Regional, but her change of gear was more than either could live with as she registered her first victory at the highest level.

"It's very hard to find these sorts of horses when you've only got 40 in work, and we don't expect it," said Dwyer, who operates on a modest scale from Ballarat in Victoria. "It's an absolute luxury to have a mare like this and for (owner) Akram El-Fahkri to entrust me to train her.

"It was such a gamble bringing her over; it's such an expensive trip and Akram is paying up for it alone, but we've more than paid our way today."

Twice a group 2 winner at Caulfield, Asfoora has gone close at the highest level on home turf on two occasions, most notably when chasing home the world's highest-rated sprinter, Imperatriz, in the Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley in September. However, Dwyer always felt Europe would be her best chance of triumphing at the highest level, and the trip to Britain has been years in the making.

"This time last year—or probably two years ago—I thought we were restricted in Australia and we need a few options over here," the trainer revealed. "We took her to Perth last year for an iconic Australian race called the Quokka. It was more for the travel with a view to coming over here and she coped with it great. That was the making of her and here we are."

Choisir was the first to win the race for Australia in 2003, since then Takeover Target (2006), Miss Andretti (2007), Scenic Blast (2009), and Nature Strip (2022) have all been successful. Giving Asfoora time to acclimatize to conditions in the Northern Hemisphere, rather than running almost directly from the plane, was a new tactic deployed by Dwyer, and it paid dividends.

"We needed a lead-up run at Haydock, so we were always going to come early, but just with the changing of seasons we wanted to be here before it was too cold in Australia and too warm here," he added. "We came over in the nice interchange period and she settled in brilliantly. The proof of that was in the pudding today.

"Those who have done it before have all trained 150 group 1 winners, whereas that's only my third, but it's sublime and to do it here and at Royal Ascot is just brilliant."

Having fully acclimatized to her surroundings, Asfoora will remain in Newmarket with the King George Stakes (G1) at Goodwood and the Nunthorpe (G1) at York on her agenda.


Rashabar Delivers Coventry Shocker

Rashabar landed the Coventry Stakes (G2) at 80-1 under jockey Billy Loughnane as he narrowly held on in a photo finish from the Wathnan Racing-owned pair Electrolyte and Columnist.

Trained by Brian Meehan for the Sangster family, Rashabar was a maiden coming into the race and led home horses priced at 40-1, 50-1, and 40-1 as the field's fancied horses failed to shine.

Rashabar and Billy Loughname win the G2 Coventry Stakes Royal Ascot, Ascot, UK, June 18th, 2024, Mathea Kelley
Photo: Mathea Kelley
Rashabar upsets the field at 80-1 in the Coventry Stakes

Loughnane, 18, is the son of trainer Mark Loughnane and was champion apprentice last year. He described his first Royal Ascot victory as "the best feeling in the world."

"What a feeling," Loughnane said. "Brian was very confident coming into the race. My plan was to go right even though the favorite (Camille Pissarro) was on my left—the quickest way is a straight line and he did it the hard way. 

"Wow. As I looked over I thought I might have just won it, I saw the big screen and I just kept driving away. This is the best feeling in the world. It means a lot."

Rashabar is the longest-priced winner of the Coventry since Nando Parrado won at 150-1 in 2020, but Meehan felt his horse was coming into the race with a better profile than his price indicated.

"He's a lovely horse," Meehan said. "Chester [last time] was a little disappointing but he missed the break, and I think without that he'd have won. The form has worked out well, he'd been training so well at home and the team had done a tremendous job.

"Right now it's about showing what we can do and the satisfaction as a trainer and for the team at home, it's very special."