ASCOT // Stand-in jockey, Tom Queally, was the architect of the biggest upset at this week's Royal Ascot when he guided rank outsider Art Connoisseur to a superb victory in the showpiece, Group One Golden Jubilee Stakes yesterday. And though Queally may not have been first-choice, the trainer Michael Bell, had no complaints.
"I thought it was boy against man today but the horse answered every call and Tom gave him a peach of a ride," he said. In a race likened in prestige to the 100m sprint, the three-year-old Art Connoisseur took on older and proven gallopers in the shape of five-year-old pre-race favourite, JJ The Jet Plane, and seasoned Hong Kong champion, Sacred Kingdom, who is six, to emerge the surprise victor in the seven furlong contest.
A very different race emerged to what most pundits had imagined, with the US challenger Cannonball shooting to second for trainer Wesley Ward and jockey Olivier Peslier who have both enjoyed a successful Ascot meet and the Karl Burke-trained Lesson in Humility coming in third under Andrew Elliott. The much-fancied JJ The Jet Plane, trained by Dubai-based Mike de Kock, had come into the race having won everything South Africa had to offer at the sprint distance and also won well in his listed prep race at Windsor. But after initially challenging with the front runners, he fell back and crossed the line in fourth under Kevin Shea.
Sacred Kingdom, who won while on the injury comeback trail in the Group One Krisflyer sprint in Singapore last month, could manage only fifth for jockey Brett Prebble. Godolphin's Diabolical, ridden by Frankie Dettori, who has not finished worse than third in his last five finishes was beaten into sixth. There may have been disappointment for the favourites, but the winner's trainer said the victory was the result of a long period of keeping faith in his charge, who has had two injury setbacks.
"He was second to Mastercraftsman in Ireland after winning the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot last year," he said. "He cracked a cannon bone in the Gimcrack Stakes, we then ran him at the start of the season in the Free Handicap to see if he would stay a mile but he was clearly a sprinter. "I would have been more confident but for the fact he popped a splint and was very sore. He swam twice a day for a fortnight and then he came back to us."
Queally, who won the Windsor Castle Stakes at Ascot in 2004, said there was an element of good luck in the win. "He idles in his work and does only enough; I was fortunate that when I hit the front I was getting close to the line." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org