QEII Glory For Sensational Big Rock

Big Rock | Megan Rose Photography


Leaving his G1 Queen Elizabeth II S. rivals strung out down Ascot's straight mile, Yeguada Centurion's Big Rock (Fr) (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire}–Hardiyna {Ire}, by Sea The Stars {Ire}) produced a masterclass from the front under Aurelien Lemaitre in one of the great displays throughout the history of this prestigious affair. Quickly out on his own, the Christopher Head-trained 3-year-old who had not won since looking a force in the mud in the G3 Prix la Force and G3 Prix de Guiche this spring was always way beyond the reaches of the chasing pack.

Keeping up the remorseless gallop to the line, the G1 Prix du Jockey Club, G1 Prix Jacques le Marois and G1 Prix du Moulin runner-up had six lengths to spare over compatriot Facteur Cheval (Ire) (Ribchester {Ire}) as he denied Tahiyra (Ire) (Siyouni {Fr}) by a neck. There was a yawning nine-length gap back to the best of the rest in this GI Breeders' Cup Mile qualifier.

“He loved the ground today, it was easy,” said Lemaitre, who was sensationally burying the memory of his G1 Nassau S. reversal on the same connections' Blue Rose Cen (Ire) (Churchill {Ire}) on his previous visit to England.

Big Rock, who only debuted for his first trainer Mathieu Brasme in November, had made giant strides by the time he was beating Horizon Dore (Fr) (Dabirsim {Fr}) in Chantilly's nine-furlong G3 Prix de Guiche on testing ground in May. Beating all bar Ace Impact (Ire) (Cracksman {GB}) on quick ground in that track's 10 1/2-furlong Classic the following month, he then met an Inspiral (GB) (Frankel {GB}) at the top of her game in Deauville's Jacques le Marois before succumbing to Sauterne (Fr) (Kingman {GB}) in the Moulin.

The fact that Facteur Cheval was just half a length behind him in third in that ParisLongchamp feature speaks volumes as to how much difference this sapping going makes to his prospects at this level. Dropping the likes of the four-times Group 1-winning 7-4 favourite Paddington (GB) (Siyouni {Fr}), the G1 2000 Guineas hero Chaldean (GB) (Frankel {GB}) and star filly Nashwa (GB) (Frankel {GB}) with each ground-devouring stride, he never let Tahiyra get within shouting range as he performed his own cabaret in the mud.

“Big Rock was tremendous,” his trainer said. “Today was pretty much the best mile race of the season and seeing him win this way is crazy. What a horse, what a season. I am really happy for the owner, because he has done tremendous work with the breeding and this horse is the pinnacle of the breeding system.

“You are always a bit scared that the rest of the runners will come on to you, but he was always going faster and faster. We had faith because we have known him all throughout the season and he has always been like this. We need to discuss with the owner about whether he will stay in training and Leo will decide what we do.”

   Tahiyra's rider Chris Hayes gave an insight into the power of the winner. “It was an unusual race. Big Rock had us all under pressure–he set a quick tempo on very testing ground. I'm very proud of my filly on ground she hated. She wouldn't accept defeat and she kept trying to the line. Hopefully she's there next year–she is a remarkable filly.”

Dermot Weld added, “Tahiyra has run a brilliant race. We are delighted with her, it's just the conditions on the mile are very testing. She didn't really handle the ground, but she tries so hard. Somebody had to go after the horse in front and she said, 'I'm going after him!'. We will see how she comes out of the race and will make a decision as to her future.”

Pedigree Notes

Big Rock's is the first foal out of the unraced Hardiyna, a €72,000 Goffs November purchase from The Aga Khan's draft. She is a daughter of the G3 Silver Flash S. scorer Harasiya (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}), who was also second in the G2 Debutante S. and third in the G1 Moyglare Stud S. and is a half-sister to Sea The Stars's Derby and Irish Derby hero Harzand (Ire). The third dam is the G3 Athasi S. winner Hazariya (Ire) (Xaar {GB}), who alongside Harasiya and Harzand also produced three other black-type performers including the Listed Finale S. winner Hazarafa (Ire) (Daylami {Ire}) who was in turn responsible for the G3 Derby Trial and G3 Amethyst S. scorer Hazapour (Ire) (Shamardal).

Hazariya is a half to Barathea's G3 Blue Wind S. winner and G1 Irish Oaks and G1 Yorkshire Oaks third Hazarista (Ire) and listed-placed Hidden Brief (GB), better known as the dam of another Sea The Stars luminary in last year's G1 British Champions Fillies & Mares S. heroine Emily Upjohn (GB) who added the G1 Coronation Cup to her tally this term. It is also the family of the triple Group 1-winning Irish Derby and St Leger hero Hurricane Lane (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) and another G1 British Champions Fillies & Mares S. winner in Seal Of Approval (GB) (Authorized {Ire}). Hardiyna's second foal is a 2-year-old colt by Ten Sovereigns (Ire) who was bought for just €20,000 by Emil Zahariev at last year's Arqana Deauville October Sale. She also has a filly foal by Australia (GB).



Saturday, Ascot, Britain
QUEEN ELIZABETH II S.-G1, £1,156,250, Ascot, 10-21, 3yo/up, 8fT, 1:44.58, sf.
1–BIG ROCK (FR), 129, c, 3, by Rock Of Gibraltar (Ire)
1st Dam: Hardiyna (Ire), by Sea The Stars (Ire)
2nd Dam: Harasiya (Ire), by Pivotal (GB)
3rd Dam: Hazariya (Ire), by Xaar (GB)
1ST GROUP 1 WIN. O/B-Yeguada Centurion (FR); T-Christopher Head; J-Aurelien Lemaitre. £655,709. Lifetime Record: MGSW & MG1SP-Fr, 11-5-5-0, $1,672,570. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree, or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Facteur Cheval (Ire), 132, g, 4, Ribchester (Ire)–Jawlaat (Ire), by Shamardal. (145,000gns Wlg '19 TATFOA; €120,000 Ylg '20 ARDEAY). O-Team Valor International LLC & Gary Barber; B-McCracken Farms (IRE); T-Jerome Reynier. £248,594.
3–Tahiyra (Ire), 126, f, 3, Siyouni (Fr)–Tarana (Ire), by Cape Cross (Ire). 'TDN Rising Star'. O-H H Aga Khan; B-H H The Aga Khan's Studs SC (IRE); T-Dermot Weld. £124,413.
Margins: 6, NK, 9. Odds: 5.00, 14.00, 3.50.
Also Ran: Checkandchallenge (GB), Rogue Millennium (Ire), Nashwa (GB), Angel Bleu (Fr), Epictetus (Ire), Paddington (GB), Chaldean (GB), Hi Royal (Ire).

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