Barbury Boys on a high as Coeur de Lion makes it third time lucky in Ascot Stakes
Alan King may not be at Royal Ascot this week, but you can bet he was celebrating at Barbury last night after his grand old stayer Coeur de Lion had won the Ascot Stakes, staying on too strongly for 4-1 favourite Verdana Blue.
It was Coeur de Lion’s third attempt at the big staying handicap – he had previously run two solid races, finishing sixth and fifth – but he travelled so well in a first-time visor for apprentice Thore Hammer Hansen, and mastered Verdana Blue in the last 200 yards to win by a length.
Coeur de Lion, bought by the Barbury Boys syndicate for £110,000 at Goffs Doncaster Sales two years ago to keep the gelding in Alan’s yard, ensured that it was a red-letter day for the 20-year-old Hammer Hansen, who was riding his first winner at the Royal meeting.
He said:”It is unbelievable for a 5lb claimer to come here and ride a Royal Ascot winner. It gave me such a tremendous buzz, especially when you consider that there are plenty of G1 winning jockeys out there who have never ridden a Royal Ascot winner.
“I won on Coeur de Lion last year at Chester, and he has taken me to some of the big meetings. I went to Barbury to ride him last week and he worked well in a visor, so we were hopeful of another big run, though in all honesty I never dreamed that we’d win.
“My dad has ridden a G1 winner and multiple Listed and other Group winners as well, but he has never ridden a Royal Ascot winner, so at least I can now wind him up about that.”