x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Crystal Capella produces her best yet at Newmarket

A dominant display sees the six-year-old mare triumph by eight lengths in the Group 2 Princess of Wales's Stakes.

NEWMARKET, ENGLAND // It was Ladies Day on the July Course yesterday and Crystal Capella gave them all something to cheer about when the six-year-old mare outstayed the males in the Group 2 Princess Of Wales's Stakes.

Crystal Capella's job was made easier after a heavy burst of rain in the morning saw two horses withdrawn, which left all but one of her seven rivals racing in the colours of Middle East-based owners.

Princess Haya of Jordan's Buthelezi set the pace and at the halfway stage the three-year-old colt led Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed's Dordogne and Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's Laaheb.

The well-regarded Redwood was the first to make a bid for home, but Crystal Capella, under a cool ride by Ryan Moore, looked to be going the better. When Moore got her in to the correct rhythm, she motored through the rain-affected going to win by eight lengths from Redwood.

"That gave me more pleasure than any win of mine this season," said Sir Michael Stoute, the winning trainer. "I must thank the owners for being so sporting and keeping her in training."

Stoute was referring to his charge's propensity to pop a splint, an injury much like a shin splint in humans, which forced her to take a 364-day convalescence last year before she came back to win the Group 1 Pride Stakes in October.

It was not the first time Crystal Capella had suffered the injury, as she did it previously after she beat Dar Re Mi, the 2009 Dubai Sheema Classic winner, at York.

"It was a terrific performance," Stoute said. "It has been well chronicled that she's had lots of problems. She showed in the Pride Stakes that she's as good as ever and today was thrilling."

The mare became the first of her gender to win the race since 1982 when Height of Fashion, owned by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and subsequently sold to Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, was steered to victory by Willie Carson.

It was an eighth victory in the one mile four furlong, contest for Stoute, who became the most successful trainer in the race, first run in 1894.

Earlier in the day Frederick Engels won the July Stakes for Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, of Qatar. The two-year-old son of Iceman won the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot last month in the colours of Qatar Bloodstock. Returning to the more familiar yellow and blue-starred silks of Pearl Bloodstock he took the step up to Group 2 level in his stride.

The Shiekh's holding company, Qipco, sponsors the British Flat racing season at elite level and he was on hand to witness Frederick Engels hold off Roman Soldier by a length with the Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed's Bannock third.

"That was superb," said Sheikh Fahad. "My trainer did a great job. It is good to have a horse of this calibre. The future looks bright for us and for British racing.

"I am very happy how the Qipco sponsorship has gone and for all the support. I was keen to have a runner in my colours. I leased the horse out to my brothers last time for Royal Ascot."

It is any wonder what Sheikh Fahad makes of his trainer, David Brown, who hails from a small yard in the middle of England.

"I have 16 horses and only four staff," said the jubilant handler. "They work like mad and are up at 4am. We haven't arranged a party but I'm sure we'll have … something."

Mickael Barzalona continued his ascent of British racing when he steered Godolphin's Bridgefield to an impressive victory in a Conditions race later on the card.