Stradivarius’s bid to emulate Yeats’s record of four Ascot Gold Cup victories ended in disappointment on Thursday as Subjectivist prevailed in Royal Ascot’s flagship race.
Subjectivist, ridden by 50-year-old Irishman Joe Fanning, gave Scottish trainer Mark Johnston his fourth win in the race.
“It’s nice to be in the winning enclosure at Ascot for once,” said Subjectivist’s Hong Kong-based owner Jim Walker. “It’s the pinnacle. Fantastic.”
Johnston, sporting his trademark tartan waistcoat, spared a thought for the beaten favourite Stradivarius.
“It’s a sad day for Stradivarius,” he said. “I know what it feels like when a champion goes under but it had to happen one day.”
Johnston, recording his 47th Royal Ascot win, had nothing but praise for his veteran jockey.
“We really saw him at his best there,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anybody better than Joe Fanning, he’s absolutely perfect at setting the pace. Perfect pace all the way round.”
The understated Fanning enjoyed the experience of winning one of the most historic races in flat racing.
“He’s been a great horse this year, even last year. He just keeps improving, so it’s very good,” said the jockey, who was given a guard of honour by his fellow riders.
Subjectivist was bred by Susan Hearn, wife of retired sports promoter Barry Hearn, who helped turn snooker into one of Britain’s most-watched sports in the 1980s.
– Second chance –
Stradivarius and Frankie Dettori met trouble entering the finishing straight, finding themselves blocked by another horse.
Even when the Italian got the three-time winner out in the clear he had too much ground to make up and finished fourth.
It was a disappointing ride for the 50-year-old at a racecourse where he has enjoyed so much success.
Stradivarius’s trainer John Gosden’s first question to Dettori was: “Was he himself today?” to which the Italian replied “yes”.
Stradivarius received a warm reception on his return to the unsaddling enclosure.
“I ran into trouble and lost all chance,” was all Dettori could say about his run.
Joint trainers Gosden and his son Thady tasted victory in the previous race when Loving Dream won the Ribblesdale Stakes, their fourth win of the meeting.
“He’s a fantastic trainer and even better man and his son is a chip off the old block, you know,” said winning jockey Rab Havlin.
There was plenty of emotion when former champion jockey Paul Hanagan edged the opener, the Norfolk Stakes, on Perfect Power.
The 40-year-old is fortunate to be riding after breaking his back in a fall at Newcastle in February 2020.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” he said. “I’m lucky to be back here at all after the accident. I just appreciated I had a second chance, and I took it with both hands.
“This is what it’s all about — what the comeback means. This tops the lot.”