Subjectivist wins The Gold Cup as Stradivarius fails to join Yeats as a four-time winner

June 17, 2021

Subjectivist outstayed the field and produced a breathtaking display as he won the Gold Cup on Thursday at Royal Ascot.

The win for Irish jockey Joe Fanning and Scottish trainer Mark Johnston was a 9th and 47th Royal Ascot winner respectively as the race favourite, Stradivarius (5/6), could only manage fourth place.

The long distance specialist and three-time winner Stradivarius was bidding to join the Aidan O’Brien-trained Coolmore-owned legendary stayer Yeats as a four-time winner of the Group 1 Gold Cup.

The winning rider, Joe Fanning, had other ideas, however, and he went for home on the four-year-old Subjectivist as they entered the home stretch of the two and a half mile race.

The Irish-trained Princess Zoe (28/1), a winner of the 2020 Prix du Cadran at ParisLongchamp, was Subjectivist’s closest challenger in the end, but the grey mare finished five lengths behind the winner. Spanish Mission (7/1) was a further half-length back in third place.

The reigning champion Stradivarius found trouble on the rail while taking the home bend, as the Frankie Dettori failed to extricate him from inside the other runners. He eventually took fourth for trainer John Gosden and failed to add to his wins in the race in 2018, 2019 and 2020.  

For the winning Scottish handler Mark Johnston it was fourth Gold Cup victory having previously won twice with Royal Rebel (2001 & 2002) and once with Double Trigger (1995).

“We thought in the wintertime that Subjectivist was so much on the up” explained Johnston. “I was really happy throughout the race. We never tell the jockey to lead, we just say to go the pace that suits our horse and Joe (Fanning) is the master at it. When he is sitting second like that, settled and relaxed with a horse giving him a beautiful lead in front, I thought it was perfect.”

England-based Irish-born winning rider Joe Fanning said of the Ascot Gold Cup winner:

“Subjectivist has been a great horse this year, even last year, he just keeps improving. It was a steady pace, but he was relaxed, which was the main thing. Five (furlongs) out and before the home bend, I was able to get breathers into him to fill him up, and I thought it would take a very good one to get by him.”

Another Gosden winner

Despite the disappointment of Stradivarius losing his Gold Cup crown, trainer John Gosden and his son Thady were still among the winners as 18/1 chance Loving Dream delivered the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes, their fourth success so far this week. 

The brave Loving Dream, under jockey Robert Havlin, was prominent throughout the mile and a half contest for three-year-old fillies. She soon pulled clear as challenges came and held off the eventual runner-up, Shadwell Stud’s Eshaada (17/2), by three-quarters of a length, with Coolmore’s Nicest (28/1) a further length and three-quarters back in third.

The Scottish rider, on his second Royal Ascot winner, was high in his praise for Loving Dream, stating:

Loving Dream has always been tough, and I thought she’d been a bit overlooked in the market. (She) is a filly that likes to use her stride. I committed to go forward. We went quickly down the hill and then she quickened from the four to the three-furlong pole. She then just kept finding and finding – it was a gutsy performance.”

Emotional winner for jockey Paul Hanagan 

The Richard Fahey-trained Perfect Power (14/1), with Paul Hanagan in the saddle, burst through the pack to win the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes, a five-furlong race for two-year-olds. 

With the field spread across the width of the Ascot racetrack, Go Bears Go (6/1) was beaten a head while racing on the opposite side to the winner, while Project Dante (6/1) was a nose back in third.

For former jockey Richard Fahey he is now an eight-time winning handler at the venue but the victory was extra special for the jockey Paul Hanagan, who returned to race-riding from a broken back in August.

“I don’t usually get emotional, but I’m probably lucky to be here at all after the accident (he fractured his back in three places in a fall at Newcastle),” said Hanagan of his first Royal Ascot winner since 2005 and the fifth of his career. “It’s an amazing feeling just to even get back here, never mind a winner at Royal Ascot. I am pretty lost for words.”

The successful handler was equally pleased for Hanagan, saying 

“It’s a fantastic result. Me and Paul have been together for such a long time. He left us for around 18 months, but it’s been such a long relationship and it’s great to have another Royal Ascot winner together.

“We were very sweet on Perfect Power. We haven’t had him very long and he missed the kick first time out when third and that probably helped us. He won well at Hamilton and we were quietly confident coming here.”

Consolation for Cazoo Derby non-runner

Mohaafeth, who was somewhat controversially withdrawn late in the day from the Group 1 Cazoo Derby at Epsom earlier this month due to the ground, gained some minor compensation in the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes.

The William Haggas-trained 11/8 favourite, in the colours of Shadwell Stud, gave jockey Jim Crowley a 13th winner at the Royal meeting. 

Mohaafeth powered clear in the closing stages of the race, but he soon edged right and impeded the eventual runner-up Roman Empire (14/1) when inside the final furlong. Despite a stewards’ enquiry, the Haggas runner held on to the race for a length and three-quarter success, while Secret Protector (11/1) a head behind Aidan O’Brien’s runner-up.

Explaining why Mohaafeth edged to his right late in the race, winning rider Jim Crowley said:

“I ended up getting there way too soon on him, and he just sort of lugged into the rail, but he wasn’t doing a stroke in front.”

The Handicaps

County Kerry, Ireland-born British Champion jockey Oisín Murphy rode his second winner of the week when Perotto (18/1) took the competitive Britannia Handicap.

The race for three-year-olds over the straight mile saw the Marcus Tregoning-handled runner get the better of Joseph O’Brien’s Liffey River (20/1) by a half-length, with Quintillus (28/1) coming home in third ahead of Dubai Honour (28/1) in fourth in the large-field handicap.

A Royal Ascot which so far this week has seen a number of jockeys and trainers have their first winner at the meeting saw another rider add his name to that list this afternoon as Hector Crouch won the King George V Handicap with Juddmonte Farms’ Surefire (5/1).

Crouch and the Ralph Beckett-handled horse held off the late challenge of Aidan O’Brien’s race favourite Sir Lamorak (4/1) in the mile and a half race for three-year-olds, while Parachute (16/1) took third spot for the Ed Walker yard under jockey Tom Marquand.

Winning jockey Crouch was elated with his first Royal Ascot winner, declaring:

“I’m absolutely delighted. I’m a bit lost for words to be honest. Surefire is very classy, and he wants to step up in trip again. He could be anything with the way he goes about his business. The sky is pretty much the limit.”

The final race of day three saw another jockey ride his first winner at Royal Ascot as Jason Hart and Highfield Princess (18/1) claimed the Buckingham Palace Handicap.

The only filly in the 28-runner field, Highfield Princess (18/1), took the seven furlong race for Irish-born trainer John Quinn, who was achieving a fourth Royal Ascot success. Danyah (10/1) took the runner-up spot, a length and a quarter behind, while Riot (18/1) and Lord Rapscallion (25/1) took third and fourth places respectively.

Photo: Courtesy of Megan Ridgwell

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