Who Dares Wins ices Alan’s Royal Ascot cake in game fashion
Alan chose the Coronvirus-ravaged 2020 to give Royal Ascot a miss “for the first time in how many years”, and come Saturday night there must surely have been a few tinges of regret, as he reflected on what was “a remarkable week” for Barbury.
Henry Ponsonby, for whom Alan trained two winners at the meeting, joked on Saturday “he does not like going racing where they have no bars open,” but Alan’s priority has always been his owners so he stood firm.
He said:”Royal Ascot is my favourite Flat meeting of the whole year, but it would not have been the same without the owners.”
So, while Alan accepts that the BHA had no choice but to bar owners from all race meetings while we continue behind-closed-doors, he takes the view that his job on the track is to look after owners, so he won’t return until racing gets back to normal.
However, that does not mean that Alan did not enjoy far and his away his best Royal meeting ever. He sent five winners there this year and celebrated three winners, one second and a highly respectable fifth.
Following in the footsteps of Coeur de Lion and Scarlet Dragon, Who Dares Wins put the icing on the cake when winning Saturday’s finale, the Queen Alexandra Stakes, a first Royal Ascot victory for Tom Marquand, who 24 hours earlier had cheered home his partner Hollie Doyle as she opened her Royal account in the same Ponsonby colours on Scarlet Dragon.
Marquand, who had to work hard to get Who Dares Wins home by a neck from The Grand Visir, was full of praise for the support both Henry and Alan have given him. He said:”I am so pleased that I broke my Royal Ascot duck on this horse. Who Dares Wins has been one of the catalysts that have put me on the big stage, and him and Scarlet Dragon have both played key roles in my career.”
Tom and Hollie drove down together to Ascot on Saturday, and the jockey confessed that seeing Hollie win on Scarlet Dragon made him even more determined and motivated to ride a Royal winner himself. He, too, won on Scarlet Dragon at Newbury four years ago.
“Henry has been a big help to both Hollie and I since we were apprentices at Richard Hannon’s, ” added Tom. “Alan is one of the most underrated Flat trainers around. It’s about time he got the recognition he deserves, because he has shown he can do the job as well on the Flat as he has done for years over jumps.”
And let’s not forget Painless Potter, who confirmed his debut promise from the all-weather when running a stormer in the G2 Coventry Stakes, only just missing the frame in the most prestigious two-year-old race of the meeting.
Everything is rosy in the Barbury garden just now, and here’s hoping we have more reason to celebrate on Monday, when Duke of Condicote, who dead-heated for first place at Haydock recently, looks for an outright success on a 4lb higher at Windsor’s evening meeting.