19 June 2024

Illinois leads home Ballydoyle one-two in Queen’s Vase

19 June 2024

Illinois justified favouritism to give Ryan Moore an 80th Royal Ascot winner in the Queen’s Vase and emerge as a real candidate for the St Leger.

Second to subsequent Derby runner-up Ambiente Friendly in the Lingfield Derby Trial, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Galileo colt sat in second behind long-time leader Mr Hampstead before Moore pushed him to the front two furlongs out.

Stablemate Highbury was the first to give chase, but Moore had enough in the tank to bring his mount home by a length and a quarter at 7-4.

Highbury stayed on to give Ballydoyle a one-two, with Jessica Harrington’s Birdman completing a clean sweep of the places for Ireland.

O’Brien, also responsible for fifth-placed The Equator – said: “We felt any three of them could win, but Ryan made the decision on this one. When Diego (Velazquez) got rerouted to the King Edward VII Stakes, this horse got rerouted to here.

“Ryan felt he would stay. He felt when he got beat at Leopardstown it was the ground and he felt he was very green when he went to Lingfield.

“Obviously, all those types of horses had a much easier time than they would normally have because they would be steered into the Derby, but when City (Of Troy) was there, it gave all these horse a chance to develop slowly.

“He’s obviously a Leger-type horse and is going to improve from three to four.”

He added: “He’s a middle-distance, mile-and-six type horse and he’s going to get better from three to four. He’s a big, sound honest horse and a bit of a baby mentally still. He might have a bit of a rest now and go to York on the way to the St Leger, something like that.

“I think he might have a little more class than just a Cup horse and I think his sister (Danedream) won the Arc. Ryan said he was kind of caught in a position he didn’t want to and wasn’t getting an easy lead, he had to do it tough. When he went to the front he flattened out and he thought the race was over and then he asked him to come again and he did. He probably learned a lot today.

“I will be sure he is going to be a very good mile-and-a-half horse who will also get further.”

On equalling Sir Henry Cecil’s record of eight Queen’s Vase wins, O’Brien said: “Obviously we’re over the moon and we’re so pleased for everybody. It’s obviously massive teamwork all the way along and I’m always mentioning lots of names, but there are so many people I don’t mention. There are a lot of people doing work that influences the careers of horses even before they are born and I never mention their names and I would love to.

“It’s all about teamwork and we’re just grateful to have the small part we have and it’s unbelievable. They are homebred horses and there are so many people involved. It’s incredible to be working with the people we are.”

On the runner-up: “He’s only a baby and we didn’t know what to expect, but he’s obviously a good horse. Wayne (Lordan) said he was babyish through the race but will come on as well. He is probably a Leger-type horse as well. He could go to Goodwood and then back to York. These are both Leger-type horses who could quicken up.”

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