Khaadem produces 80-1 shock in big Royal Ascot sprint
Winner of the Stewards’ Cup in 2019, he was fourth in the corresponding race in 2020 but had always come up short when previously tried in Group One company.
Trained by Charlie Hills, he was given a typically patient ride by Jamie Spencer, who was recording his second big-priced winner of the week after the 50-1 success of Witch Hunter.
Highfield Princess, second in the King’s Stand on Tuesday, was prominent throughout leading one group, while The Astrologist and Kinross led the group on the far side.
The William Haggas-trained Sacred hit the front over a furlong out and it looked like she was just going to do enough to hold on, but Spencer had bided his time exquisitely and produced Khaadem to perfection.
Sacred was second, while the gallant Highfield Princess hung on for third.
The outcome was in stark contrast to 12 months ago, when Khaadem sat down in the stalls and Spencer was left standing.
Hills said: “I’ve always believed in him, he does have his quirks but most sprinters do. It’s just amazing that we’ve got to where we have now at his age, he was down at 104 I think on his last start.
“I just really wanted to run him over six here, last year he won the Group Two over five (at Goodwood) and I was really keen to take the blinkers off him and train him like a proper horse.
“Do it the right way, try to teach him how to race properly and drop him in – I thought Jamie was the perfect jockey. With this horse anything can happen, last year he raced without the jockey!”
Spencer said: “It’s difficult for me to put into words what Jim and Fitri (Hay, owners of Khaadem) have been like as friends to me for a long time. Even my children are watching now, and in years before, when I was flying at this meeting, they were too young to understand – now it’s nice when you get texts (from them) saying well done.
“Winning Group Ones is hard, and getting on the horses in Group Ones is the hardest part, but it’s a fantastic day and I’m going to enjoy it.”
Haggas said of Sacred: “It is mixed emotions. I am thrilled with the way she has run, but gutted that she has got caught. She got left a bit in front, that was the problem, she was travelling so well, she has gone to win her race but she didn’t win!
“That’s racing, she has run a great race and I am very proud of her.”
The John Quinn-trained Highfield Princess was as usual ridden by Jason Hart, who said: “Funny kind of thing, I don’t how many times we have run against Khaadem, but every time we have beaten him. Maybe it is different track position, and they were always kind of up on me on the other side.
“I felt her battle for me all the way to the line, and she has run her race.”
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