Royal Ascot, day 1: John Quinn aims to sprint in at double

JOHN QUINN is double-handed today as he bids to join a select group of trainers to have saddled elite-level winners at both Royal Ascot and the Cheltenham Festival.

Liberty Beach and Jason Hart are renowned for their fast starts.

Both Liberty Beach and Keep Busy represent the Malton trainer in the five-furlong King’s Stand Stakes – one of three Group One races on the opening day of Flat racing’s flagship festival.

Both fillies, says the trainer, will come on for their recent run in Haydock’s Temple Stakes in which Liberty Beach prevailed in a thriller under Jason Hart with her stablemate a far from disgraced fifth.

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They head a six-strong Yorkshire contingent in this 16-runner cavalry charge headed by defending champion Battaash, who has not raced since landing York’s Nunthorpe Stakes last August.

Liberty Beach and Jason Hart (near side) head to Royal Ascot on the back of this win at Haydock last month.

Yet, as Quinn observed ahead of today’s test, trainer Charlie Hills would not be running Battaash if he was not happy with the wellbeing of his superstar speedster.

He also told The Yorkshire Post that the start is likely to be critical due to the forecast fast ground in Berkshire and that this could play to the strengths of Liberty Beach.

“She’s very versatile – and very quick,” he said. “She’s very quick into her stride which is a great help in races like this.

“Break, get your position and hope you hold it. They will hurtle up the track at Ascot If you are able to keep your position, it will help.”

This was Liberty Beach and Jason Hart winning at Glorious Goodwood in 2019.

Third last year to Battaash, Quinn believes six-time winner Liberty Beach is a stronger horse as he seeks his fourth Royal Ascot victory in a career that has now yielded more than 1,000 winners under both codes.

Yet he is equally effusive about the profile of Keep Busy, who has been progressing through the sprinting ranks and is an eyecatching ride for former champion jockey Ryan Moore.

“She’s a good, tough filly who will improve for her first run at Haydock behind Liberty Beach,” said Quinn.

“It’s ultra-competitive but both horses deserve to be there – they’re fourth and fifth on the ratings.”

Trainer John Quinn saddles Liberty Beach and Keep busy in today's King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

However, while Quinn won the Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival with Countrywide Flame, who went on to land a Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle, a domestic Group One winner remains elusive.

He did win the Group Two Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2014 with The Wow Signal, the mount of Frankie Dettori, en route to the colt landing the Group One Prix Morny in France.

But Quinn hopes it is only a matter of time before he trains a Flat winner at the highest level in Britain – and Royal Ascot would be the perfect place to start.

“We’re working towards that,” added the trainer whose well-regarded Beverley winner Tipperary Sunset will contest the Windsor Castle Stakes tomorrow.

Also double-handed is North Yorkshire trainer Nigel Tinkler with Ubettabelieveit and Acklam Express while Tim Easterby saddles Winter Power, who won the Westow Stakes at York last month.

Bawtry trainer David Griffiths saddles Ornate.

Teddy Grimthorpe has reflected on many happy memories as he heads to Royal Ascot for the final time as Juddmonte racing manager.

Grimthorpe has been in the role for 22 years but following the death of Juddmonte founder Khalid Abdullah earlier this year, he decided the time was right to stand down from the position.

Abdullah and Grimthorpe enjoyed huge success at the Royal meeting over the years, with Frankel’s 11-length demolition job in the 2012 Queen Anne Stakes a standout occasion.

Grimthorpe said: “I’ve had such a great time. I’ve enjoyed it all and I’ve been very, very lucky.”

Maximal is the highlight on day one for the Juddmonte team as he contests the Group One St James’s Palace Stakes.

Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, Maximal has finished second on each of his two starts so far this year, including the Dee Stakes at Chester.

As for the future Grimthorpe, who comes from Westow, continued: “I’m going to take a little bit of a breather, but I’m not retiring – I want to stay in the business. I’ve got one or two projects up in Yorkshire.”