Oisin Murphy and Alcohol Free stay dry at rain-lashed Royal Ascot as Clifford Lee lands maiden win on Karl Burke’s Significantly

OISIN MURPHY’S victory on Alcohol Free in the Coronation Stakes, the day four highlight of Royal Ascot, was testament to his mental fortitude.

Oisin Murphy celebrates on top of Alcohol Free after winning the Coronation Stakes during day four of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.
Oisin Murphy celebrates on top of Alcohol Free after winning the Coronation Stakes during day four of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.

The win came within minutes of Murphy losing the preceding Commonwealth Cup when his mount Dragon Symbol, first past the post in the six-furlong sprint, was demoted to second in a stewards inquiry after being deemed to cause sufficient interference to Frankie Dettori’s mount Campanelle.

But, rather than being left downcast, the dual champion jockey went out and rode Alcohol Free with supreme confidence – even knowing the three-year-old filly would be unsuited by heavy ground for this Group One mile race.

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Their only mishap came when horse and jockey parted company after the winning post.

Alcohol Free ridden by Oisin Murphy win the Coronation Stakes during day four of Royal Ascot.

And, while it provided the in-form Andrew Balding stable with another notable success, Alcohol Free lifted the spirits of all those rain-sodden racegoers because she runs in the colours of ever popular owner Jeff Smith who had such success in the past with legendary horses like Persian Punch and Lochsong.

Reflecting on the quick turnaround in fortunes, Murphy said: “I said it to my valet, when he put his hand round me, ‘there’s no place for tears in here – there’s far worse things going on in the world’.

“We’re in the entertainment industry, and I’m steering these marvellous animals – and I keep looking forward to the next one. If she (Alcohol Free) relaxed, I was always going to have a great chance. I managed to follow Frankie (on Pretty Gorgeous), she relaxed great.”

A Group One winner last season, Alcohol Free was fifth in last month’s Qipco 1000 Guineas behind Mother Earth who was among those to struggle on this attritional ground.

Jockey Oisin Murphy jumps off his horse and falls over after winning the Coronation Stakes on Alcohol Free during day four of Royal Ascot.

“She’s very good. We had heavy hearts after Newmarket, because there are not many times you head to a Classic expecting to win. For whatever reason it didn’t pan out that day, and she was below-par, but she was back to her best today,” said Balding, for whom Sandrine took the opening Albany Stakes under David Probert.

“She won a Group One last year as well, so there’s never been any doubt about her ability. She’s in the July Cup, the Sussex Stakes and the Falmouth – so all sorts of options.”

And the aforementioned Smith added: “I’m very emotional, because we felt we were very unlucky in the Guineas.”

Earlier it was a case of ‘what might have been’ as Alenquer powered through the Royal Ascot mud to win the King Edward VII Stakes and put down a marker for the summer’s top middle distance races.

Jockey Oisin Murphy jumps off his horse and falls over after winning the Coronation Stakes on Alcohol Free during day four of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.

This is the colt that beat Adayar, the subsequent Epsom Derby hero, at Sandown last month in fine style before being ruled out of the blue riband race following a slight setback.

Yet he showed great resolution to win a race known as the ‘Ascot Derby’ for trainer William Haggas, and jockey Tom Marquand, after the high-profile fixture passed a lunchtime inspection following a deluge in Berkshire.

Marquand was happy to watch the race develop from his position at the rear of the small field as Bellocio and Tasman Bay forced the pace.

Being by German sire Adlerflug the ground was never going to be an issue and he pulled away nicely to win by a length and a half, with Tasman Bay running a cracker in second for former 
Olympic eventer Sir Mark 
Todd.

Tom Marquand celebrates on top of Alenquer after winning the King Edward VII Stakes during day four of Royal Ascot.

Races like the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes back at Ascot next month – or Doncaster’s St Leger – will come into contention for a team who have enjoyed such success with Addeybb.

Marquand said: “There was expectation rather than pressure from everyone coming into this race. He had a subsequent Derby winner behind him last time out and has a high level of ability. I don’t care about the rain, winning is winning!”

This was the second big call by the Haggas team to be rewarded this week – they pulled Mohaafeth out of the Cazoo Derby earlier this month because of the soft ground before the horse won the Hampton Court Stakes on Wednesday under Jim Crowley.

Meanwhile, North Yorkshire jockey Clifford Lee landed his first Royal Ascot win when Leyburn trainer Karl Burke’s Significantly held on grimly in the concluding Palace Of Holyroodhouse Stakes.

Alenquer ridden by Tom Marquand celebrates winning the King Edward VII Stakes during day four of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.