Toronado kicks Royal Ascot off in style
Toronado successfully overcame a 300 day racecourse absence and recorded Richard Hannon Jnr’s first Royal Ascot winner with an impressive display in the Queen Anne Stakes, the opening race of this year’s Royal Ascot meeting.
Under Richard Hughes, the four-year-old was positioned towards the rear of the 10 runner field, travelling comfortably throughout the early stages. Hughes became more animated between the three and two-furlong markers, with Toronado gradually finding top gear and finishing well on top at the line.
The son of High Chaparral, who went unbeaten throughout his debut season, enjoyed a fantastic three-year-old campaign twice finishing behind Dawn Approach in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot before reversing form with that rival with his first Group 1 win in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
Second-favourite, the Aidan O’Brien trained Verrazano finished second, whilst the supplemented French raider Anodin finished back in third.
Winning jockey Hughes said: “I’m very pleased. He was so relaxed in the race, I felt him blow up but he had a bit of class to get him through. I think any horseman in the world looking at him today will believe he is a better horse this year. I’ve always had belief in him, he’s a wonderful horse. He’s had a few problems, but they are behind him. I can enjoy myself now, there’s no pressure!”
Hannon said: “It’s lovely to get the meeting off to a start like that, he did it very well and is settling much better this year. Hughesie rode him with all the confidence in the world. I was nervous this morning, I feel a bit better now. It’s great to get a win and it’s great for the Sheikh – he’s put a lot of money in and it’s nice to see him get his reward.
“We’ll stick to a mile with him, the Sussex Stakes is highly likely and there’s also the Marois but Olympic Glory will probably run in that and then later there’s the QEII.”
Trainer of the runner up Aidan O’Brien said: “I’m delighted with him. That was a big run, I’d say it was an improvement from the Lockinge.
“He got warm, but he got warm before the Lockinge didn’t he? I don’t think it bothers him. He kept going well and will get a bit further so all those races like the Eclipse, Juddmonte and Irish Champion are open to him.”
By Joseph Smyth / Photo: EMPICS Sport
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