Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport

Mullins hits Ascot jackpot with brilliant Lagostovegas


Jump for joy: Frankie Dettori celebrates winning the St James’s Palace Stakes on Without Parole
Jump for joy: Frankie Dettori celebrates winning the St James’s Palace Stakes on Without Parole

By Marcus Armytage

Willie Mullins saddled his sixth Royal Ascot winner as Lagostovegas gave the Closutton handler a fourth winner in the Ascot Stakes.

The 12-times champion jumps trainer had struck gold in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap last year with Thomas Hobson having previously won with Simenon in 2012 and Clondaw Warrior (2015).

Mullins was also responsible for the third, fourth and fifth home in Stratum, Chelkar and Whiskey Sour in the race.

The dual-purpose mare Lagostovegas travelled strongly in the hands of Andrea Atzeni and finished well to get up and beat Karen McLintock's Dubawi Fifty by a length.

"I thought this mare might struggle to get the trip. I don't know what the time was, but it didn't look a very strong gallop, which played into her hands." Mullins said. "Stratum was a bit wide on the track and Chelkar pulled too hard."

However, John Gosden and Frankie Dettori were the stars of the show, combining for an 87/1 treble through Without Parole, Calyx and Monarch's Glen, but Eve Johnson Houghton provided the first day fairytale when Accidental Agent, a horse owned and bred by her mother and named after her grandfather, won the Queen Anne Stakes at 33/1.

Between them, Gosden and Dettori have won over a hundred races at Royal Ascot.

Until yesterday, however, Johnson Houghton had trained neither a Group winner nor a Royal Ascot winner but, given the way her career is advancing, this important step was more a case of when rather than if.

Accidental Agent and Charlie Bishop swept from last to first in the Group One mile for older horses to beat Lord Glitters, a 20/1 shot, by half a length.

Elsewhere, Without Parole remains unbeaten after a half-length success over Gustav Klimt in the St James's Palace.

US Navy Flag shot off in front, opening up a five-length lead turning for home, but sustaining it was always going to be a problem.

Calyx, the 2/1 favourite, was a length winner of Coventry from Advertise and Sergei Prokofiev, despite having to race on his own up the stands side for the last two furlongs.

Dettori wound up the day completing the hat-trick for Gosden on Monarch's Glen in the Wolferton Stakes.

The Battaash-Lady Aurelia match did not quite materialise in the King's Stand. Battaash broke from the stalls so quickly he found himself in front and Jim Crowley let him run.

He had Lady Aurelia in trouble two out but Battaash set himself up as a target for Charlie Appleby's Blue Point. In the battle of the superpowers it was first blood to Godolphin.

Coolmore, meanwhile, drew a rare first day blank.

Meanwhile, Aidan O'Brien expects Hydrangea to have taken a big step forward ahead of the Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot today.

The four-year-old won two Group Ones at the back end of last season but could finish only second her return in a Curragh Group Two last month.

Hydrangea must shoulder a 5lb penalty as she lines up over a mile, but the Ballydoyle handler is satisfied with her progress.

He said: "I was very happy with how she ran at the Curragh on her return, as we knew she was going to need the run very badly.

"She has come on really well since then."

Hydrangea heads the ante-post market for the Group Two heat, with Marco Botti's Aljazzi another strong contender having finished second in the race last year.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph