19 June 2024

Leovanni produces sizzling display to take Queen Mary

19 June 2024

Leovanni stormed clear in the final furlong to land the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The Karl Burke-trained filly raced prominently in the group on the far side before James Doyle got to work and sent her to the front.

Winner of her only previous start, the Wathnan Racing-owned youngster had far too much speed for the rest and pulled clear down the centre of the track to land the honours by a ready length and three-quarters at 22-1.

Mighty Eriu stayed on to take second for Gavin Cromwell, with the Adrian Nicholls-trained Maw Lam taking third.

“It’s been a lot of work from everyone behind the scenes, it’s easy for me just riding them, but a lot of work has been put in by Richard Brown (racing adviser to Wathnan) and his whole team,” said Doyle.

“I was pleased with her on debut, she won like a potentially smart filly, but it’s so hard to tell. Look at yesterday, I had the choice of three in the Coventry Stakes and the one I picked finished out the back. The other two just got beat. It’s very difficult to make choices, thankfully I didn’t have to choose between two in this race!”

He added tellingly: “I won this race before on a filly called Rizeena for Clive Britain (2013) and I would say this filly has all the class that she had. The raw speed, the ability to relax, the temperament, being versatile with the ground. There is a lot to look forward to with her.”

Burke said: “It looked very, very smooth, James said she travelled beautifully. She’s got a fantastic mind, not just for a two-year-old but a breeze up two-year-old, she’s unbelievable. Going forward I’m sure she’ll stay six (furlongs).

“Richard Brown and the team have done fantastically well, I know they’ve paid a lot of money and that adds more pressure. To get one winner is great, hopefully it’s not the last.”

Brown was quick to praise Doyle, who left Godolphin to join the big-spending but fledgling Wathnan operation.

He said: “We had to work hard to get James. He is a world-class jockey, I think it is obvious to see that.

“He’s a top-class sportsman and we were very young, we were only nine months in and we were asking him to leave a top job. But I think he could see the vision of Wathnan and it’s great to see him up there picking up the trophy.

“More than being a brilliant jockey he is an amazing guy and a top team player, we are very lucky to have him and I’m delighted for him.”

He went on: “No amount of investment guarantees success in any sport, in particularly racing when there are 27 others lining up against you who cost an almighty amount of money between them.

“This filly cost a decent amount of money, but in the grand scheme of it it would not have been what some of them would have cost.

“Whether it is Wathnan or anyone it is our job to get people to participate in this amazing sport. I have been coming here for over 20 years and yet you still look around, see the royal procession and the racing, it is still a world-class sporting event.

“For Wathnan to come in with the scale of ambition they have shown and have winners at this meeting it is great for them.”

Of the runner-up, Cromwell – who won the Queen Mary in Quick Suzy in 2021 – said: “It was a great run and I certainly won’t complain. She needed to wait a while for the gap to open and she went through it well and won the race on her side. She probably got a bit lonely in front of her bunch, but it was a lovely run and we’re delighted.

“The winner won well and we won’t take anything away from her. She’s a nice horse for the rest of the year and she is only going to keep on improving. Trip-wise, I think five or six furlongs will be fine and she has a great attitude and a great mind for it, a lovely relaxed filly.”

Nicholls was proud to see Maw Lam run a big race for his relatively small yard.

He said: “I’m delighted and she was very unlucky as well the last day (Hilary Needler at Beverley). I haven’t got the firepower that a lot have coming down here, this is my only runner and you are coming with hope rather than expectation.

“She ran a great race, they went fast Hollie (Doyle) said and she has finished strong. To get black type in the Queen Mary is brilliant and it is onwards and upwards.

“She’s very relaxed, loves attention and she was asleep 20 minutes before the girls put the bridle on her which stands her in good stead.

“I’ll see what the team want to do, maybe go for a Listed race and then onwards to better things.

“Hopefully now we can go to maybe France or a race in Ireland, we’ll let her stop blowing and then make a decision. For us, with 20 horses, it is very exciting to have something that let’s us play a part in these big meetings.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox