THE Yorkshire contingent behind Quiet Reflection had every reason to make a lot of noise after their filly won the Group One Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.
As victorious members of the winning Ontoawinner syndicate jumped for joy, jockey Dougie Costello could not hold back the tears – he was riding over obstacles a year ago – and trainer Karl Burke toasted the first Group One win of his training career.
A firm favourite after her runaway win in Haydock’s Sandy Lane Stakes last month, the frantic three-way finish to this six furlong sprint for three-year-olds was one of the defining moments of this year’s meeting.
As the leader, Kachy, veered badly to his left, Ryan Moore was making relentless progress down the centre of the track on Washington DC before Quiet Reflection displayed her electric turn of foot
Costello did not panic, though, and kept Quiet Reflection straight and true to take the first prize of nearly £250,000 by a length.
Quiet Reflection could head for next month’s July Cup at Newmarket – she has now won six of her seven career starts – but Haydock’s Betfred Sprint Cup in early September was suggested by Leyburn-based Burke, who spoke of his relief as his name was added to the roll of honour, the culmination of a stop-start career.
“I am absolutely delighted,” said Burke. “It is a big relief as well because you see all your contemporaries and lads you grew up with – Richard Fahey and Kevin Ryan among others – all having winners at the big meetings.
“You are itching to have one and we have had a few near misses, so it is great to get there. Quiet Reflection is a very good filly. It was not the plan to be stuck in the middle like that and I was praying we didn’t get a rough race. When she comes through she has a great turn of foot and it has got her out of trouble again.
“I bought her at the breeze-ups and the lads at Ontoawinner were there and took half straight away.
“Elaine and my eldest daughter Kelly would not let me keep the other half so I sold 35 per cent to Hubert Strecker. I was determined to keep a piece because we have always thought a bit of her.
“She’s not a huge filly so I said to Dougie to keep it simple. As it happens, we were stuck in the middle but the runner-up running across the track opened it up a little and she used that turn of foot to great effect.”
Burke has had some rocky moments in his career, being banned for a year by the British Horseracing Authority in 2009 after admitting supplying inside information to gambler Miles Rodgers.
His wife held the yard’s licence until 2013 and redemption is now complete. Burke reflected: “I can’t have any complaints. I’ve had a great career, I enjoyed my riding – I wasn’t great at that, but did my best – and I’ve enjoyed training.
“We had a few problems a few years ago, but that’s in the past. I know what happened – I broke a rule and got punished for it. I think we’ve done well to get back to where we are so quickly.”
As for Costello, this win eclipsed his Grade One success on John Quinn’s Countryside Flame in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival.
With opportunities over jumps not sufficient to support his young family, he decided at the end of last summer to switch full-time to the Flat despite many questioning his decision to join the Burke yard.
This one race more than vindicated that decision and a tearful Costello was joined by his daughter Aoife for the presentation.
“Emotion took over a little bit. Karl has put me in this position and given me this opportunity. It’s been a long road. This feels like the icing on top of the cake,” he said.
“It’s unbelievable. I wouldn’t be in this situation without Karl.
“This filly is one of a kind and you haven’t seen her full potential (yesterday).
“I am just unbelievably lucky. There are plenty of good jockeys without the opportunity to do something like this.
“Karl asked me at the Arc meeting last year to ride for him.
“Some things are too good to be true, but when I started working with Karl I could tell we were singing from the same hymn sheet and it could be true.”
Costello, a motorcycling enthusiast before fatherhood forced him to give up his passion for two wheels, was quick to praise his weighing room colleague Jordan Vaughan, who looks after Quiet Reflection and whose yellow and white tie matched the colours carried by the Commonwealth Cup heroine.
The victorious Ontowawinner syndicate is run by Simon Bridge alongside his business partner Niall O’Brien.
They paid just £45,000 for this horse who will be worth a fortune when she is retired, in time, to stud.
“Bloody hell,” exclaimed Bridge. “Incredible. What can you say? Group One winner.”
As for O’Brien, he said: “I haven’t slept for a week thinking it could happen. You don’t allow yourself to think you can.”
It just has – and the whole of Royal Ascot, and Flat racing, heard the cheers after this famous win for Yorkshire.