ST LEGER prospect Hartnell had to survive a stewards’ inquiry to provide Middleham trainer Mark Johnston with a seventh career win in the two-mile Queen’s Vase.
It came after Joe Fanning’s mount veered to the left in the final strides and impeded both Century and Marzocco in a frantic finish.
A second success this week, after Muteela won on Wednesday, Johnston nodded his head in relief when the result was confirmed.
This race has a rich history – the last two winners, Estimate and Leading Light, went on to win the following season’s Ascot Gold Cup. “I was choking a bit there,” said Johnston who confirmed that the Ladbrokes St Leger will be Hartnell’s more immediate target.
One St Leger absentee is likely to be John Gosden’s Eagle Top who was an exhilarating winner of the King Edward VII Stakes.
Though Lady Bamford’s horse has an ideal profile for the Doncaster Classic, he’s likely to stick to yesterday’s trip of a mile and a half and step up to Group One level. “This horse – you’ll be hearing a lot more from him,” said winning jockey William Buick.
Meanwhile, Nawton trainer David O’Meara recorded a first Royal Ascot winner when 33-1 outsider Louis The Pious took the concluding Buckingham Palace Stakes under Silvestre de Sousa, with stablemate Watchable third under The Yorkshire Post columnist Danny Tudhope.
De Sousa, who served his racing apprenticeship with Johnston, has endured a difficult season with Godolphin. “That was great. I’ve been here for the last three days and I’m just glad to ride a winner,” he said. “David said to me he could run a big race. He just told me to switch him off and come with a late run.”
The winner is owned by Frank Gillespie whose The Grey Gatsby has already completed the Dante and French Derby double this season for Kevin Ryan.