Create Belief first Royal Ascot winner for Johnny Murtagh as trainer
Johnny Murtagh celebrated his first winner as a trainer at Royal Ascot when Create Belief turned the Sandringham Stakes into a rout.
Murtagh enjoyed many memorable days in the saddle at the meeting – but very few will have given him as much satisfaction as this victory.
Well-backed when the torrential rain hit overnight, Create Belief was sent off a 6-1 chance in a field that saw nine non-runners due to the worsening conditions.
Ridden by Ben Coen – another to be celebrating a first Royal Ascot winner – Create Belief put the race to bed a long way out.
She cruised into the lead with a furlong and a half to run and despite being put up 10lb for a win in a big handicap at the Curragh last time out, she sprinted clear.
Sir Michael Stoute’s 5-1 favourite Samoot was the only filly to give any sort of chase, but she had no answer and was beaten five and a half lengths. Messidor was third, with She Do fourth.
Coen sported the colours of the RacehorseClub, who were second in the Grand National with Balko Des Flos.
The rider said: “It’s a huge win and a great feeling to be part of it. She travelled so easily and loved the ground. You can ride her any way you want, she’s such an uncomplicated filly.
“I couldn’t ask for a better mentor than Johnny. It’s my first time here and it’s a big help having someone like him behind me.”
Murtagh was delighted to secure his inaugural winner at the showpiece fixture and said: “It feels extremely special. It’s a dream come true. I’m very proud of my family and team. It’s much tougher this training game as you are with them all the time. But the staff have put in so much hard work.
“Royal Ascot is the best week of the year, it’s very special, it’s magical and to come back and train a winner now after all those successes as a jockey, I’m just absolutely thrilled.
“It was not ideal for my filly with an 8lb penalty, but when the rain came it really helped her chances.
“She’s progressing and hopefully she can keep going now. She’s on the up and hopefully she can go on now and be competitive in Group races.
“We always thought she was a stakes filly in the making and she has been working well, so it wasn’t a surprise, maybe how easy she won, but I wasn’t surprised she won today.”
Oisin Murphy secured his second win of the day, and his fourth at the meeting, as 7-2 favourite Quickthorn relished the conditions in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes.
Murphy settled on the heels of the pacesetting Zabeel Champion and was perfectly placed to make his challenge as the field turned for home.
Hollie Doyle shot up the inside rail on last year’s victor Scarlet Dragon, while Raymond Tusk and Mirann tried to take a hand in the finish, but Murphy had plenty up his sleeve on the Hughie Morrison-trained Quickthorn, who stretched clear in the final furlong.
Raymond Tusk was a length and a half back in second, with the gutsy Zabeel Champion beaten three-quarters of a length in third.
Morrison said: “I’m so relieved the meeting was on.
“This horse didn’t come to hand quickly – he was leggy and weak and came back a bit sore last year. But when he did a bit of work with a filly called Urban Artist and then she came second in a Group Three, my spirits soared.
“We’ve won this four times now. It’s our sort of race.”
Clifford Lee rode his first Royal Ascot winner as the Karl Burke-trained Significantly just held on in the closing Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes.
Sent off a 10-1 shot, Significantly had posted an eyecatching piece of form last time in finishing second to Dragon Symbol, who was first past the post in the Commonwealth Cup before being demoted to second earlier in the afternoon.
Lee set sail for home with a couple of furlongs to run on Significantly and although he tired at the finish in the heavy ground, he fended off the late burst of Boomshalaa.
Burke said: “It’s been the plan for a while and to be fair it was Jeff Laughton’s (co-owner) plan. He hatched it after we were second to Dragon Symbol at Hamilton.
“We thought then we would come here off a mark of 92. He’s a 100-plus horse all day long for me. He’s always been a good work horse, but he’s just been a bit frustrating. We’ve learnt how to ride him now and he’s better off rolling along.
“I’m delighted for Clifford to get his first Royal Ascot winner. He’s in the yard six or even seven days a week and works hard. He’s very strong and powerful in a finish.”