Rarely has a winner brought as much emotion as that by Accidental Agent in the Queen Anne Stakes. Eve Johnston Houghton held nothing back as she reacted to the victory of her 33-1 shot. And she had every reason to cry with tears of joy. It was her first Group One winner, and her first at Ascot. Bred by her mother, the horse was unwanted at the sales and is named after her maternal grandfather, John Goldsmith, a trainer and secret agent who escaped from the Gestapo in the Second World War.
Dettori dazzles on opening day
Royal Ascot would not be the same without Frankie Dettori. He was sorely missed when injury forced him out of the meeting last year, but he quickly made his mark with a first-day treble for trainer John Gosden. The popular Italian wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard for 2018 on Calyx in the Coventry Stakes, topped off by his trademark flying dismount in the winner’s enclosure. That was merely the appetiser, as he took the feature St James’s Palace Stakes on Without Parole and capped the day with Monarchs Glen in the Wolferton Handicap. A ban and a fine for his win on Without Parole could not wipe the smile off his face.
Godolphin make their Point in King’s Stand
There is no stopping the Godolphin team this year. After Masar’s historic win in the Derby, it was the turn of Blue Point to take the sprinting honours in the King’s Stand Stakes. The five-furlong dash had been billed as a clash between speedsters Battaash and Lady Aurelia, but Blue Point was the party pooper as he wore down the former in the closing stages to land the spoils. Trainer Charlie Appleby revealed Sheikh Mohammed had a relaxed approach to the Royal meeting thanks to Masar’s Epsom triumph. A happy camp is a successful camp.
Atzeni revels in Ascot success
Andrea Atzeni celebrated his victory on Lagostovegas in the Ascot Handicap in unique style. Collecting his prize from Craig Revel Horwood, he then accepted an invitation from the Strictly Come Dancing judge to share a little dance on the podium. It was only Atzeni’s third win at the meeting, but more will surely follow – as could an appearance on the successful TV show.
Mullins bags another staying prize
Winning at the big National Hunt Festivals is not enough for Willie Mullins. The champion Irish jumps trainer may have just two realistic races to target at Royal Ascot, but took his tally to six with a fourth win in the Ascot Handicap, to add to his two in the Queen Alexandra Stakes, which takes place on Saturday. Not only did he saddle the winner, Lagostovegas, but he had the third, fourth and fifth to boot from five runners. The County Carlow handler says having staying handicappers on the Flat keeps him busy in the summer, not that he has any quiet times these days.