Sky Lantern Leads Coronation Stakes Procession
1 Sky Lantern 9/2 Fav
Sky Lantern showed her QIPCO 1000 Guineas victory was no fluke at Royal Ascot this afternoon with a breathtaking display in the Coronation Stakes.
Richard Hannon’s filly travelled strongly at the rear of the field in the early stages and, although she had to come wide round the final turn, the 9/2 joint-favourite flew away from her rivals under a confident ride from Richard Hughes to record a four-length victory.
“We’ve had a frustrating week but that’s made everything seem worthwhile,” said Richard Hannon junior, son of trainer Richard Hannon.
“It was very tough to see Toronado finish second behind Dawn Approach earlier in the week (in the St James’s Palace Stakes) but we always knew she was a special filly and I’m glad she’s been able to show it.
“We were in two minds whether to run her after she was drawn 16 of 16 as I didn’t feel it would have been fair on her to have to do it the hard way. She’s had everything against her today so to see her win like that means she must be a very special filly.
“There was talk after the (1000) Guineas that she had been lucky but we knew otherwise. We were quite tough on her as a two-year-old but she took it in her stride and after the Breeders’ Cup (where Sky Lantern finished fourth in the Juvenile Filles’ Turf), Richard (Hughes) said she would win the Guineas. I didn’t believe him then but I think I do now!
“She’s just a pleasure to deal with. She eats, sleeps and goes about her business with the minimum of fuss – she doesn’t need any special treatment. Hughsie wanted to ride her like a good horse and she’s so straightforward that we just let him.
“She’s bigger and stronger than she’s ever been and I think she’ll keep on improving.
“Races like the Falmouth Stakes (a Group One race over a mile at Newmarket) have to come into consideration now but I’d like to step her up in trip. I think that a mile-and-quarter would be as far as she wants to go but Richard thinks she’ll easily get a mile-and-a-half. If that’s the case, then we would seriously think about the Arc (over a mile-and-a-half at Longchamp). She’s definitely got the ability to cope with a race like that.
“You have to win races at Royal Ascot when you’ve got horses like this and I’m just relieved that she’s been able to show it given the fact that everything was against her today.”
Winning owner Ben Keswick echoed Hannon’s sentiments.
“It’s just the most amazing feeling and well done to the Hannons. I have lost my voice and it’s incredible exciting. Well done to Richard Hughes – he just kept his cool – and well done to Sky Lantern and the Hannon yard. It is truly an amazing day and it’s very special for us.”
Coronation Stakes (British Champions Series) (Fillies' Group 1)
HUGHES TEES UP LANTERN WIN WITH ROUND OF GOLF
He may be Britain’s champion jockey, but the demons of doubt were clearly niggling at the fringes of Richard Hughes’ mind after a blank first three days at Royal Ascot.
With the responsibility of riding the QIPCO 1000 Guineas heroine Sky Lantern in the Coronation Stakes – but with the disadvantage of an unfavourable draw – Hughes needed to be relaxed, but razor sharp and free of equivocation. His solution – a game of golf with his jockey colleague Pat Dobbs this morning before heading to Royal Ascot.
Speaking after Sky Lantern had cruised from last to first for an easy win in this Group One contest for fillies – she scored by four lengths and a neck from Kenhope and Just The Judge – Hughes said: “What a relief, what a relief – everything’s gone wrong. The job is to ride winners the way I always ride them, to get them into a rhythm and find the gaps, and if they come they come and if they don’t they don’t. They haven’t been coming all week and it’s been a nightmare.
“Richard [Hannon Jr] believed in me, and when I said, ‘I want to drop this filly out and try to overcome the draw’ and he said, ‘Ride the way you always ride’. You have to keep belief in yourself, and if you don’t there are plenty of fellas out there to knock you down.
“We had a chat in the parade ring about the terrible draw, and Junior said to me, ‘Just go out and enjoy yourself and do what you always do’. That’s huge to know I could ride my race, and know that if I came home flying late I wouldn’t get anything back from the trainer. It gives you confidence to do what you’re going to do.
“I went out this morning and played golf with Pat Dobbs in a bid to clear my head [Hughes won]. I needed that because things were just getting to me – ‘Why aren’t the gaps opening?’. I needed to get away for a couple of hours to freshen the mind up. I had to keep saying ‘Believe in yourself’. I even had a few friends ringing me and consoling me.
“She’s a brilliant filly who had no recognition after the Guineas. She was brilliant today, she will get further and is a brilliant filly to have anything to do with. I said at Christmas she would stay further and if you can get her to relax she comes home strongly.
“She has made those fillies out there look slow, and they aren’t.”
PANTALL THRILLED WITH KENHOPE
Trainer Alex Pantall was full of praise for Kenhope after the 33/1 chance finished runner-up to Sky Lantern in the Group One Coronation Stakes.
“She ran very well and is extremely courageous,” said Pantall. “The jockey was not very happy on the bend turning for home but she finished very well and has a nice turn of foot. I have no plans for her at the moment.
“It is great for her owner (Guy Pariente), who is also the breeder and stands her sire.”
Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Just The Judge is set to step up in trip after finishing third. “I’m very proud of her and she ran a good race. If anything today told us that she was ready for a step up in trip to a mile and a quarter and we’ll look at the Nassau Stakes (at Glorious Goodwood),” said trainer Charlie Hills.
Just The Judge’s jockey Jamie Spencer added: “There are no excuses – she ran a lovely race.”
Maureen, a stablemate of Sky Lantern, finished fourth and Richard Hannon junior, assistant to his father, added: “She ran a super race and tried very hard – there is a big race in her one day.”
THE CORONATION STAKES
2012-WINNER-FALLEN FOR YOU 3-9-00 Owner-Normandie Stud Ltd; Trainer-John Gosden; Jockey-William Buick;
2011-WINNER-IMMORTAL VERSE 3-9-00 Owner-Richard Strauss; Trainer-Robert Collet FR; Jockey-Gerald Mosse;
2010-WINNER-LILLIE LANGTRY 3-9-00 Owner-Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith & Sue Magnier; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien
2009-WINNER-GHANAATI 3-9-00 Owner-Hamdan Al Maktoum; Trainer-Barry Hills; Jockey-Richard Hills; SP-2/1
2008-WINNER-LUSH LASHES 3-9-00 Owner-Jackie Bolger; Trainer-Jim Bolger IRE; Jockey-Kevin Manning; SP-5/1
2007-WINNER-INDIAN INK 3-9-00 Owner-Raymond Tooth; Trainer-Richard Hannon; Jockey-Richard Hughes; SP-
2006-WINNER-NANNINA 3-9-00 Owner-Cheveley Park Stud; Trainer-John Gosden; Jockey-Jimmy Fortune; SP-6/1
2005-WINNER-MAIDS CAUSEWAY 3-9-00 Owner-Martin Schwartz; Trainer-Barry Hills; Jockey-Michael Hills; SP-9/2
2004-WINNER-ATTRACTION 3-9-00 Owner-Duke of Roxburghe; Trainer-Mark Johnston; Jockey-Kevin Darley; SP-
2003-WINNER-RUSSIAN RHYTHM 3-9-00 Owner-Cheveley Park Stud; Trainer-Sir Michael Stoute; Jockey-Kieren
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