Talking Points: Emotions Run High As Shepherd Bags Breakthrough Royal Ascot Win 

Callum Shepherd: recorded an emotional breakthrough at Royal Ascot |


Isle Of Jura (GB) (New Approach {Ire}) stormed to a memorable Hardwicke victory on Saturday to provide trainer George Scott and rider Callum Shepherd with a breakthrough Royal Ascot success.

The win was a timely one for Shepherd, who endured a hammer blow when losing the ride aboard Ambiente Friendly (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}), who would go on to finish second in the Derby. 

Naturally, Shepherd was overcome with emotion after crossing the winning line in front aboard Isle Of Jura, who is owned by Bahrain's Victorious Racing and racked up a series of wins in that country over the winter. 

“With all the emotions coming out I'm going to struggle to compose myself,” Shepherd told ITV Racing after bagging his first Ascot win at the 66th attempt. 

The rider added, “He's been such a special horse to George and the team and for Sheikh Nasser to be here having enjoyed all this success in Bahrain, he's a very good horse and he just never lets us down. The last six weeks have been quite difficult and that just feels really special.” 

Victorious Racing were tasting success for the second time this week after Pledgeofallegiance (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) won the Ascot Stakes on Tuesday for trainer Sir Mark Prescott and rider Luke Morris. 

But Isle Of Jura was arguably even more important given he raced with great distinction in Bahrain all throughout the winter and went some way to highlighting the expanding programme in that country.

Bedtime Story or Fairy Godmother?

Wow. If anyone was feeling sleepy coming into the final day of what has been a mammoth week of racing, Bedtime Story (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) did her bit to awaken those people from their slumber.

What she did in the Chesham was seriously impressive. Juveniles are not supposed to win races of that nature by close to double figures. 

However, did she deserve to usurp her stablemate Fairy Godmother (Ire) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}), who was arguably just as impressive in overcoming a troubled passage in Friday's Albany, for next year's 1,000 Guineas?

The bookmakers seem to think so and have installed Bedtime Story as the clear number one for Aidan O'Brien for next year's Classic at odds of 11-4. You can get 6-1 in places about Fairy Godmother. 

Yes, Bedtime Story was extremely impressive but it shouldn't be lost what Fairy Godmother achieved 24 hours previously. Those odds seem a little reactionary. 

Good Old Dark Angel Enjoys Week to Remember

Dark Angel (Ire) did his bit to remind people just how good he is this week. After starting the meeting with a bang with Charyn (Ire) in the Queen Anne, the Yeomanstown Stud resident proved he can get top-class horses at every discipline when Khaadem (Ire) made it back-to-back victories in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes. It's been a week to remember for the stallion.

Quality of the Older Sprinters a Worry

It must be said, however, that the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes lacked strength in depth. Given Tuesday's King Charles III Stakes went for export with Asfoora (Aus) (Flying Artie {Aus}) beating the best of the European sprinters, the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes didn't do anything to change the opinion that we are lacking a top-class older sprinter in this jurisdiction. You'd have to fancy Commonwealth Cup winner Inisherin (GB) (Shamardal) in the July Cup, should that be the path connections chart. 

Divine Intervention

Hand Of God (GB) (Churchill {Ire}), named after that infamous Diego Maradona goal against England in the World Cup quarter-final 38 years ago to the day, sprouted wings to take the Golden Gates Stakes. 

It came as some deserved compensation for owner Mohammed Jaber, whose King's Gambit (Ire) (Saxon Warrior {Jpn}) was an unlucky loser earlier in the week. 

But Hand Of God was by far the best horse in the Golden Gate and was by no means in need of divine intervention to hit the back of the net. 

Unfortunately, having sat through a couple of sleep-inducing performances by Gareth Southgate's boys, the same cannot be said for England in the Euros. They'll need every bit of help they can get!

Haatem An Ideal Type For The Breeders' Cup

How good was Haatem (Ire) (Phoenix Of Spain {Ire}) in the Jersey Stakes? Reverting in trip and running under the penalty proved no barrier to the classy colt registering a fourth success for Wathnan Racing this week and paying a handsome compliment to his Irish 2,000 Guineas conqueror and stablemate Rosallion (Ire) (Blue Point {Ire}).

Okay, Wathnan clearly shelled out a lot of money to buy Haatem in the build-up to the Jersey–probably a couple of million at least–but lest we forget that Haatem was initially bought for 27,000gns as a yearling by Peter and Ross Doyle. These horses are out there. 

Haatem would look an obvious type to go for the Breeders' Cup Turf Mile, which would be huge for the Irish National Stud, whose young stallion Phoenix Of Spain continues to go from strength to strength.

Credit Where It's Due

We are starting to repeat ourselves here, but what Wathnan Racing achieved in returning to the winner's enclosure four times this week has to be celebrated. For context, Godolphin managed just one winner all week while Amo Racing left Ascot empty-handed.

Tough Week For The Irish

Don't be fooled by Aidan O'Brien running riot and claiming yet another leading trainer award at the royal meeting, because this week has been extremely tough for the raiding party. Outside of Aidan, only his sons Donnacha and Joseph along with Willie Mullins and Gerard Keane managed to bag themselves a winner apiece.

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