Trinidad and Tobago's National Athletics Championships kicked off Saturday with intense competition as athletes vied for spots to represent their country in the upcoming World Athletics Championships in August. The opening day saw several standout performances, including a spectacular display by two-time Olympic medalist Keshorn Walcott.

In the men's javelin event, Walcott demonstrated his prowess and easily retained his crown with a  throw of 80.41 meters. The accomplished athlete, who is no stranger to success on the international stage, threw 79.93 meters on his first attempt, followed by 79.76 meters on his second. However, it was his event-winning throw on the third attempt that truly impressed the crowd.

Point Fortin New Jets' Devin Augustine stole the spotlight in the men's 100m, proving his mettle against an experienced field of sprinters. Augustine's early intent was evident during the preliminaries, where he clocked the second-fastest qualifying time of 10.39 seconds. He further improved in the final, blazing to victory in an impressive 10.26 seconds. Abilene Wildcats' Jerod Elcock was a close silver medalist, finishing just behind Augustine in 10.27 seconds, having been the fastest qualifier with 10.35 seconds earlier on. Concorde's Revell Webster held on to third place in the speedy final with a time of 10.36 seconds.

Meanwhile, in the women's 100m, Michelle Lee Ahye displayed her dominance, making up for her absence from last year's event by clinching victory in 11.31 seconds. Abilene's Reyare Thomas secured the silver medal in 11.43 seconds, closely followed by Concorde's Akilah Lewis, who won the bronze in 11.52 seconds.

Excitement continued to build in the 400m events. In the men's final, Abilene Wildcats secured a 1-2 finish, with Asa Guevara taking the top spot in 46.52 seconds, followed by Shakeem McKay in 46.65 seconds.

Zenith Athletic's Renny Quow completed the top three with a time of 46.78 seconds. The women's 400 meters featured a triumph for Guyana, with Andrea Foster finishing first in 55.08 seconds. Phoenix Athletics' Camille Lewis secured silver in 56.63 seconds, while IG Fastlane's Jenna Thomas earned the bronze in 57.25 seconds.

 

 

Owen Burrows feels he has a lot to thank Hukum for as he prepares to send his King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes champion straight to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The six-year-old has won 11 of his 17 career starts and it was somewhat fitting that having provided the Lambourn-based handler with both his first Royal Ascot and Group One winner, Hukum was front and centre once again as Burrows enjoyed his finest hour in the training ranks.

Having downed last year’s Derby winner Desert Crown on his comeback from a career-threatening injury sustained when winning the 2022 Coronation Cup, Baaeed’s brother was at the peak of his powers in the hands of Jim Crowley in Ascot’s midsummer showpiece to tee up a trip to Paris on the first Sunday in October.

As short as 6-1 for the Arc, Burrows is determined to enjoy Hukum while he can as he begins to dream of victory in Europe’s richest middle-distance contest.

He said: “I owe him a lot. He’s been around for a while, he was my first Royal Ascot winner and my first Group One winner.

“We travelled him to Dubai after the sad passing of Sheikh Hamdan and that was a big thing for him to win over there on Super Saturday as well.

“He’s been a tremendous horse in my career and he’ll be very hard to replace, but we’ll enjoy him while we can.”

He went on: “He’s all well this morning. He ate up and he’s been out and had a lead out and a nice pick of grass and trotted up sound, so touch wood all good.

“The Arc is something like eight weeks today and that is the obvious plan now. The plan has always been King George in the summer and then trying to get him to France in the beginning of October and now we can start dreaming.”

All of Hukum’s victories have come on ground no quicker than good and having proven very effective with a little cut in the ground, there are plenty of positive signs ahead of Hukum’s autumn visit to the French capital for a race often run in testing conditions.

Burrows added: “He would go on faster ground and it was pretty quick in the Sheema Classic when he was only beaten a length and three-quarters.

“But he’s obviously had a hard enough race there yesterday and knowing we can get him cherry ripe following a layoff, I don’t think we need to be giving him a prep run.

“I would love to get him to the Arc and I think we would be talking about soft ground. Yesterday Jim (Crowley) felt it was a little bit dead ground, there wasn’t a lot of life in it. He handles most ground, but he obviously handles soft ground very well and we can dream.”

Hukum’s victory came just 25 minutes after another of Burrows’ Farncombe Down string, Aflaila, landed the Group Two York Stakes to give the handler a fantastic cross-card Group-race double.

He has been inundated with congratulatory messages since and admits it did take some time for the achievement to sink in.

“It’s been quite busy and I’m literally sitting down trying to work through all the messages, but it is going to take me a while,” said Burrows.

“I’ll admit yesterday I was a bit shellshocked, but now it is finally sinking in and what a day, what a great day.

“I’ve not been at it too long (training), but it was well documented this horse (Hukum) was injured at Epsom last year and to get him back to this level is a huge team effort. From the guys at Shadwell who rehabbed him, to my guys here at Farncombe, it’s a big big team effort.”

Cricket West Indies (CWI) has announced their new West Indies Women’s Academy programme with the first High Performance camp scheduled to take place from 30 July to 13 August at the West Indies High Performance Centre at Coolidge Cricket Ground (CCG) in Antigua.

The West Indies Women’s Academy will feature an intake of 16 Women’s Rising Stars.

According to a statement from CWI, this marks a pivotal moment in the development of West Indies Women’s cricket in the region and a key step in the professional journey of the 16 players aspiring to becoming part of the next generation of West Indies Women’s senior players.

The squad of 16 players includes Asabi Callender, Jahzara Claxton, NaiJanni Cumberbatch, Earnisha Fontaine, Jannillea Glasgow, Realeanna Grimmond, Trishan Holder, Zaida James, Djenaba Joseph, KDJazz Mitchell, Ashmini Munisar, Samara Ramnath, Shalini Samaroo, Steffi Soogrim, Abini St Jean, Kate Wilmott.

The West Indies Women's Academy programme will provide a long-term development and coaching plan for these emerging players with the opportunity to learn and train alongside some of the best coaches and mentors in women's cricket. This first West Indies Women’s Academy camp will focus on refining their skills, enhancing their tactical acumen, and nurturing their mental resilience to prepare them for the challenges of international cricket.

“I feel very proud that the inaugural West Indies Women’s Academy has been launched with this first two-week camp in place to start the programme. It’s taken a lot of planning over the last 18 months, so to see it coming to fruition is a major step forward for the development of the next generation of West Indies Women’s cricketers. This first Academy camp is going to be different to previous High Performance camps, as it will be more holistic in developing players all-round game,” said CWI’s Talent Pathway Manager Steve Liburd.

“Most of the Academy intake are continuing from the West Indies Rising Stars Under 19s team that participated in the inaugural ICC Women’s Under19 Cricket World Cup earlier this year. This is a major investment and development to support their careers with the aim of becoming senior international cricketers. Our mandate at the West Indies Women’s Academy is aid their progress into the senior West Indies Women’s team and to equip them to become top international cricketers.”

The West Indies Women’s Academy is part of CWI’s long term strategic plan to invest in and develop women’s cricket across the region and a key stage in the West Indies Player Pathway. By providing a nurturing environment and pathway in which these young players can grow and flourish, CWI aims to create a sustainable pipeline of talent for the West Indies Women’s team.

The West Indies Men’s Academy was launched in 2022 and will continue in 2023

Few jockeys will ever have as much success at Goodwood as Michael Hills.

The Derby-winning rider knew almost every idiosyncrasy the undulating South Downs track could offer.

Among his many British Group One winners, he secured victories in both the Sussex Stakes and Nassau, though he cherishes the two Goodwood Cups gained by the hugely-popular Further Flight, trained by his father Barry, above all others.

In a 10-year career from October 1988 to October 1998, the magnificent grey ran 70 times and won 24 races – 22 of them partnered by Hills.

“Further Flight used to come at that time of year,” said Hills. “He won two in a row in 1991 and 1992. He was just amazing.

“He used to come from way back and was not the easiest ride. He got there early and then he’d stop. He only just got the two miles. We tried him in the Gold Cup and he didn’t stay.

“The Goodwood Cup was his first Group race win in ’91, after he’d won the Ebor. I have got the pictures and he gets lighter and lighter each year. When I last rode him, he was nearly white.”

Further Flight got better with age, being voted European Champion Older Horse at the Cartier Racing Awards in 1995 and landing the Group Two Jockey Club Cup every season from 1991 to 1995.

“What was remarkable was his durability. After the Ebor, he was right at the top and had to compete at the top all the time,” Hills added.

“He was unbelievable, winning two Lonsdale Cups and the Doncaster Cup as well.

“He was aggressive. He used to pull really hard when he was young, and we got him to settle and that is when he got to stay. He was gelded as a three-year-old and then handicapped. He went up the handicap route and then just got better and better.”

Further Flight was even placed in the 1997 Jockey Club Cup as an 11-year-old and won his last race the following year.

He was retired after his final race in October 1998 and went to live with Hills, his wife Chris and daughter Sam in Newmarket. Not that the jockey’s affection for Further Flight was reciprocated.

“He was a funny character, because when he retired, they gave him to me and I had him at home – he wouldn’t go near me and didn’t like me at all,” said Hills.

“He used to love my daughter and my wife. He would only go to her. He wouldn’t let me catch him.

“I don’t know why. He didn’t like men and Chris will say he was a good judge of character! He was a funny old boy.

“The only time I’d go near him was when he was in his box. In the paddock, he wouldn’t go near me.”

Hills, whose big-race victories included the Derby with Shaamit and King George with Pentire in 1996, retired in 2009 after three decades in the saddle.

He has remained a fixture on racecourses and the 60-year-old imparts his riding knowledge, teaching young jockeys as a British Horseracing Authority coach at the British Racing School in Newmarket.

“I love working with the apprentices,” added Hills. “It’s really great, when they listen to you and you see them doing it on the track, it gives me a good kick.

“Telling them about the draws and the different tracks. Goodwood is so tricky, where the draw is, where the pace is, it is so, so important.

“As soon as those gates open, you can win and lose the race there and then. Goodwood is a very awkward track. They had a few suspensions at Royal Ascot, and I think we will see a few more at Goodwood.”

Longevity and consistency made Further Flight one of the more popular horses in training and Hills could invariably be relied upon more often than not to deliver on the biggest days at the West Sussex track.

“I have some lovely memories of riding there,” he added: “The Sussex Stakes on First Island (1996) was really great, coming back from a mile and a quarter when winning the Prince of Wales’s at Ascot, to a mile. It was a great training performance from Geoff Wragg.

“I think I won two Schweppes Miles with Prince Rupert and Distant Relative, too.

“I was lucky at Goodwood. Dad and Geoff (Wragg) pinged it. There was the Richmond with First Trump and Superstar Leo for William Haggas in the Molecomb, which I won a few times (Hoh Magic 1994, Majestic Missile 2003 and Enticing 2006), and winning the Nassau on Ryafan (1997) was great.

“That was a very, very good filly. I said to John Gosden that day, she was the best filly I’d ever ridden.”

Ryafan had won the Prix Marcel Boussac as a juvenile and then went on to score in the Falmouth and Nassau to be crowned European Champion Three-Year-Old Filly, before heading to the States to take three more top-level contests as a four-year-old, earning her an American Champion Female Turf Horse honour in 1997.

“She went to America and she was unbelievable out there,” added Hills. “She was up there with the best I’ve ridden.

“She never got any further than a mile and a quarter. I remember the one thing John asked me, ‘what do you think on the trip?’. I said in the last 50 yards I was on vapours. I was on the floor, but six (lengths) clear or something.

“I think she was possibly one of the best fillies John ever trained and she never got the credit she deserved over here.

“One of my great Goodwood days was Broadway Flyer, when he won the Gordon Stakes in 1994. That was for my brother John. That was great.

“Then there was First Island in the Sussex Stakes. He was a very good horse, but unfortunately he had to take on Bosra Sham a lot. I won the Hong Kong Cup on him, which was my first big international win. He was a terrific horse.”

Sadly, Further Flight died after suffering a paddock injury to his hind leg in July 2001. Though he won just two races at Nottingham, he is remembered there with a race named after him – the Barry Hills Further Flight Stakes – and will always be the horse Hills will be best associated with.

He was very much part of the family, so much so that they could not bare to part with his memory.

Chris Hills explained: “We had a headstone made for him when he was buried.

“When we sold the farm, we hoped the new owners would keep the grave in good order, but I went there one day and it was all overgrown.

“I was so upset and angry. I said to Michael, ‘I’m going to get his headstone’, so we basically spirited it away. It took a job to get it out of the ground.

“We had a wooden cross made as a replacement with his achievements on, so no-one is going to forget him.”

“He was by far my favourite horse,” Michael Hills added. “To win back-to-back Goodwood Cups and the same five Group races in as many years, no other horse as done that. He was fabulous.”

Nations Pride added a victory in Germany to his growing international CV when scoring emphatically in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis – Bayerisches Zuchtrennen at Munich.

Although beaten on debut at two, four straight subsequent victories earned the son of Teofilo a shot at the Derby last year in which he finished eighth behind Desert Crown.

After Epsom, trainer Charlie Appleby turned the colt’s sights globally and Nations Pride followed up a narrow defeat in the Belmont Derby with wins in both the Saratoga and Aqueduct equivalents, before finishing an honourable fifth behind stablemate Rebel’s Romance in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

He spent the early part of 2023 in Meydan where he picked up the Dubai Millennium Stakes and finished third to Lord North in the Dubai Turf, but made a fantastic return to Europe in the Munich Group One.

Having seized the initiative early, William Buick was able to dictate terms from the front aboard the four-year-old and then put the race to bed in fine style when kicking for home entering the home straight, coming home unchallenged for a three-length success.

It was Appleby’s second win in the race following Barney Roy’s triumph in 2020 and the Moulton Paddocks handler suggested Nations Pride could be getting his passport stamped once again this autumn.

“I’m delighted he’s been able to get a Group One win to go alongside his Grade One win from Saratoga,” said Appleby.

“He’s a very solid mile and a quarter horse and William gave him a great ride.

“We were confident going into the race although we were having to concede a lot of weight to the German Derby winner (Fantastic Moon, second), but he’s done it well.

“Going forward he’s going to be a horse that we’ll campaign internationally as he’s got the experience of doing so. There’s no immediate targets but he’ll have an autumn campaign, internationally.

“I’m delighted for the team he’s put another Group One on the board.”

Paddy Power cut the winner to 9-1 from 12s for the Juddmonte International at York, while he is 10-1 for the Cox Plate.

Racing and equestrianism will come together at the Qatar Goodwood Festival with the aim of raising money for charity in the Magnolia Cup.

The five-and-a-half-furlong contest, for which 2024 applications are open, gives 12 women from a variety of backgrounds the chance to shine at the summer meeting.

The event is sponsored by Markel and in 2022 was run in aid of The Brilliant Breakfast, a British charity that supports disadvantaged young women and for whom the race raised over £300,000.

This year’s race is run in support of the Education Above All (EAA) Foundation, established in 2012 by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, with the aim of transforming lives through education.

In recent years the race has also exemplified the increased focus on diversity within the sport, with Khadijah Mellah becoming the first hijab-wearing jockey to win an organised horse race of any kind in this country when successful in 2019.

Mellah learned to ride at Ebony Horse Club, an inner-city riding school in Brixton, and in 2022 the momentum continued when Ashleigh Wicheard was the winning rider and used her moment in the limelight to highlight the Black Lives Matter cause.

Naturally both successes have to led both improvement in and increased discussion around diversity in racing, something that leads Cool Ridings founder Lydia Heywood to believe the sport is blazing a trail for other areas of equestrianism.

Heywood, a British-based event rider who represents Jamaica, created Cool Ridings in 2020 to give support to those not well represented within the world of equestrian sport.

Through the organisation Heywood met Olivia Kennedy, a fellow equestrian who will aim to do Cool Ridings proud when she takes her place in the 2023 Magnolia Cup.

Heywood said of the group: “Cool Ridings launched in 2020 following work I did with city riding schools, I felt there was a missing link when young people discover their passion for horses and want to find a pathway to continue into successful careers.

“I’ve been representing Jamaica in the sport (eventing) since 2017, I wanted to be the change I wanted to see in the industry and now I have a whole host of new friends and a community that really celebrate each other.

“It’s a huge step in the right direction, aligning with governing bodies on training days where we support each other regardless of our level or ability.

“The Magnolia Cup was been a wonderful opportunity to get deserving members into the limelight, Olivia has grabbed the opportunity and made some great connections in the racing world.

“Her position and fitness has come on so much in such a short space of time, I’m so impressed and we’re really looking forward to the race day.”

Riders will this year raise funds for Education Above All – a charity founded by Qatar’s Sheikha Moza bint Nasser that aims to ensure more underprivileged children receive an education.

The race’s diverse cast this year includes Maryam Al Jaber, state lawyer in Qatar and the first Qatari female trainer of Camels, and Roya Nikkhah, Royal Editor for The Sunday Times, continuing the event’s status as a leader in terms of diversity and inclusion within racing.

Heywood said: “I think the racing world is leading the way when it comes to opportunities for young people and people from all backgrounds.

“Khadijah Mellah is someone who started riding at Ebony Horse Club and the work I’ve done with Ebony Horse Club has inspired me a lot to get Cool Ridings members opportunities.

“I’m sure the members will be grabbing their tickets, getting dressed up and cheering on Olivia.”

Ascot’s director of racing Nick Smith insisted he was “very pleased” with attendances at the two-day King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes Festival meeting.

It culminated with a pulsating clash between Hukum and Westover, with the former narrowly prevailing.

“It was a fabulous race, a deep race and fought out by two popular older horses,” he said.

“It was a race for the ages, although from a purely purist point of view, we needed the Derby winner to play a part. For whatever reason, he sadly was beaten before the race got started – that’s horses for you. The other three-year-old, King Of Steel, ran his race, but it was all about the two who drew clear, really.”

However, rail strikes played a part, with the crowd diminished as a result.

Smith added: “Overall, we have been very pleased with the turnout of just under 19,000, which given the rail strikes, was commendable.

“We moved a few things around on the Friday schedule and that seemed to work in terms of field size, and we were treated to a good King George, with a great finish. I think we have got to be happy in the circumstances. It was a great advertisement for racing, which is the main thing.”

What was expected to be a difficult return to action for Dale Murphy’s Runaway Algo did not materialize, as the inform American-bred horse easily disposed of rivals to top the Eros Trophy feature on the 10-race card at Caymanas Park on Saturday.

In fact, the seven-length margin of victory by the four-year-old chestnut colt in the Graded Stakes/Open Allowance event for three-year-olds, was almost liking to an exercise run, given the ease in which he covered seven furlongs (1,400m) in a tidy 1:26.3, after setting splits of 23.4, 46.0 and 1:11.3. It was also a second successive win for the Lanmark Farms-owned and bred charge this season.

Anticipations of race fans were high that Runaway Algo would possibly be locked in a stretch duel with Jason DaCosta’s American-bred I Am Fred or Ian Parsard’s Mahogany or even both at the same time, but from the moment the left the gates, it became clear that Murphy’s charge would have things his own way.

The fact that I am Fred (Reyan Lewis) and Mahogany (Dane Dawkins), attempted to go with the fleet footed Runaway Algo made things all the easier for jockey Raddesh Roman, who gradually slowed the pace to accommodate his rivals, while also ensuring his horse had enough in the tank for his usual explosive burst in the homestretch.

By the time they arrived at the half-mile, Roman gradually released his hold on Runaway Algo and though I am Fred and Mahogany were both still in close proximity when they turned for home, they soon lost sight of the Algorithms –Misunify progeny, who opened up and won going away under a comfortable hand ride.

I Am Fred stayed on for second, with Mahogany in third and King Arthur (Javaniel Patterson) at the back of the four-horse field, as DaCosta’s other trainee, Eagle One was a non-starter.

Meanwhile, leading rider Lewis, extended his rich vein of form in the saddle, with a fine treble. Lewis won the first race aboard DaCosta’s Whizz Kidd, the fifth race aboard the Patrick Lynch-conditioned Prosecco, and the sixth aboard Airstream for trainer Robert Pearson.

DaCosta also saddled Phenomenal One (Anthony Allen) in the fourth race for a double for the day, along with Pearson, who also won with Posing Already (Tevin Foster).

Allen added victory with Gary Subratie’s 24-1 outsider D Head Cornerstone to his earlier win aboard Phenomenal One.

The next race card is scheduled for Tuesday, August 1, 2023.

After being humbled by reigning champions New Zealand in their opening Vitality Netball World Cup contest, Trinidad and Tobago’s Calypso Girls bounced back in style, as they bettered Singapore 49-36, but it was not the same for Barbados Gems, who suffered a second-consecutive defeat in a 44-53 scoreline against Scotland in Cape Town, South Africa on Saturday.

The Calypso Girls, who lost 27-72 to number two-ranked Silver Ferns on Friday, were always favoured to come up trumps against Singapore and that they did to keep their hopes of progressing to the business round of the tournament alive.

Co-captain Afeisha Noel lead from the front with 38 goals from 44 attempts, with Joelisa Cooper and Tiana Dillon contributing three and eight goals and from four and nine attempts respectively, as Trinidad and Tobago led from start to finish.

Amandeep Chahal 23 goals from 31 attempts and Kai Wei Toh, 13 goals from 28 attempts offered Singapore’s resistance.

With the win, Trinidad and Tobago moved to two points, same as Uganda who lost 44-54 to Pool D leaders and tournament favourites New Zealand, on four points.

The Calypso Girls Head coach Joel Young-Strong took heart from her team’s performance heading into their final contest against Uganda on Sunday.

“It is an awesome feeling, sometimes we were a bit off track with the goal and plan that we had and the things that we worked on and talked about. But it was good to see them correct the errors and go back to playing the way we wanted them to play which was good,” Young-Strong said in a post-game interview.

“We learnt from the first game that we had to be extra patient and we had to manage the ball even better and we did that in this game to some extent. We made some adjustments because we didn’t want to take anything for granted where Singapore is concerned and I am just happy for this win,” she added.

Barbados Gems were unable to say the same, as they found Scotland too good on the day, though both teams went to the half time break locked at 23-23.

Scotland, who had suffered an agonising defeat against Malawi in Friday's Pool B opener, capitalised on a number of unforced errors by the Gems at the backend of the game to secure a victory which positions them well to progress to the next stage.

Beth Goodwin 13 goals from 19 attempts, Niamh McCall 29 goals from 31 attempts and Emma Barrie 11 goals from 14 attempts, got the job done for the Scots.

Meanwhile, Latonia Blackman 20 goals from 22 attempts and Kadeen Corbin 24 goals from 27 attempts, lead the fight for Barbados.

The result meant the Gems are on the verge of being eliminated from contention and must win against Malawi on Sunday to remain alive. England, who defeated Malawi 62-39, head Pool B on four points.

Though again plagued by turnovers, Corbin believes it was a much-improved performance from the team.

“I thought we played really well, we just lost it at the last minute, but I think what we did positive in the first game, we improved on that today and we actually kept pushing and showing that we have the fight.

“We did lose a little bit of connection in attack at one point, but we spoke about it quickly on court and rectified that as soon as possible and once we got going, we kept on chugging away. But it was a bit too late and at the end it wasn’t enough,” Corbin shared.

“I give credit to all my teammates who fought on that court today. We got Malawi to come which is not going to be an easy game, we are going to have to fight to the last whistle. Hopefully, what we did positive today we can do better tomorrow and compete as best as we can,” she added.

The West Indies rebounded from an embarrassing defeat in the opening ODI against India on Thursday with a comfortable six-wicket win in the second ODI on Saturday at the Kensington Oval to tie the three-match series 1-1.

Despite things looking ominous with Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill putting on 90 for the first wicket, the hosts produced an excellent bowling display to restrict them to 181 all out in 40.5 overs after winning the toss and electing to field.

Kishan followed up his fifty in the first match with a run-a-ball 55 to top score while Shubman Gill (34) and Suryakumar Yadav (24) were the only other batsmen to make any meaningful contributions to the Indian total.

Romario Shepherd and Gudakesh Motie were the stars with the ball for the hosts. Shepherd took a career-best 3-37 off his eight overs while Motie bowled 9.5 overs for his 3-36. Alzarri Joseph chipped in with 2-35 off seven overs.

The Windies then needed just 36.4 overs to reach 182-4.

The successful chase was led by Captain, Shai Hope, who made an unbeaten 80-ball 63 including two fours and as many sixes. Keacy Carty provided good support for his skipper with 48* off 65 balls including four fours.

Shardul Thakur took 3-42 off eight overs for India.

The series decider is set for Tuesday at the Brian Lara Academy.

 

Sport does not always scale the heights anticipated. Yet inarguably, with toes hanging off the edge, this King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes offered an epic view.

One wishes more dare scale the steep, magnificent Ascot grandstand steps to witness such an incredible spectacle of rippling thoroughbred power.

On such occasions, one has a vague idea of what will unfold before the eyes. This was refreshingly different, there was not an inkling what to expect from either racegoers or participants.

“No-one is ducking it,” Hukum’s jockey Jim Crowley succinctly put it beforehand, “which means everyone fancied their chances.”

None more so than him, as it turned out.

This season’s search for such a clash of the crème de la crème had reached the rainbow’s end, for this was as close to nirvana as a horse race gets.

There had been very little swinging and missing. Emily Upjohn had won the Coronation, with runner-up Westover subsequently taking the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.

Reigning champion Pyledriver had scored with ease on his belated comeback in the Hardwicke, dual Derby winner Auguste Rodin had only been luckless in the 2000 Guineas, and the other young pretender, King Of Steel, had gained compensation for a narrow Epsom defeat by taking the King Edward VII over course and distance. Luxembourg had a Tattersalls Gold Cup in the locker.

All in good form. Connections, to a man, hopeful if not confident, even given the unseasonably good to soft ground.

Superlatives are dangerous things, often inviting contradiction and sometimes scorn. Yet from overture to curtain, what unfolded was a drama for the ages, perhaps not quite on a par with Grundy and Bustino in 1975, yet ovation-worthy, nonetheless.

The bare result saw Hukum beat Westover by a head. King Of Steel was a further four and a half lengths back in third, with Auguste Rodin beaten before the race got started, suggesting something more than the ground was amiss.

Crowley had tasted some extraordinary moments with Hukum’s full brother Baaeed. Yet after a monumental battle with the doughty Westover for the last two furlongs, Rob Hornby’s mount matching the six-year-old blow for lung-busting blow, and having come out on top, the victor knew he had been part of another historic race.

“This was special,” said Crowley. “It was a great race to be part of. I knew going into the race, I wouldn’t swap him – and every jockey in the race said the same about their horse.

“Hence why everybody turned up as we all thought we could win.

“It was amazing, really. Both myself, the horse, Rob Hornby and Westover, were giving it everything. The kitchen sink is thrown in those situations.

“It must have been exciting to watch. To come out on top, it was fantastic, probably the most enjoyable race I’ve ever won. It was a race for the ages – just fantastic.”

Crowley’s ride was masterful. There were plenty in with chances as they swung six abreast round the home turn tracking Pyledriver. While he had to be reminded, Hukum lengthened his stride with a sudden explosive power that is flat racing’s most exhilarating sight.

Pyledriver and King Of Steel both ran their races, but while Crowley was was happily deciding they were beaten, he knew with greater certainty that once Westover had almost drawn upsides, the game could well have been up.

Yet the former champion has been here before and once Westover had served it up, Hukum had locked on to the task in hand and knocked it out of the park.

“The ground had dried out more than I was hoping for, but he is not essentially a soft-ground horse – he just likes good ground,” Crowley added.

“He missed the Hardwicke, which was good to firm and that was a good decision.

“He is just a very good horse who is getting better with age. He is finally coming out of his brother’s shadow now.

“He is just hard as nails, he is chilled, walks round the paddock like he owns the place – he’s a real dude.

“In some ways he’s flown under the radar, as he is a six-year-old, who has just won that one Group One, but if you go through his form, he hasn’t finished out the first three many times. He is a proper, tough horse.”

Hukum will likely be given a break, before being brought back for ParisLongchamp.

“You’d have to say the obvious race would be the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe now,” said Crowley. “He would get his conditions there and you always need a bit of luck round there – a low draw is very important. But let’s enjoy today – this was special.”

His victims offered no excuses, this was just a rare and precious thing – an entirely satisfactory all-aged midsummer highlight, won by the best horse and a great rider. This was as good as it gets.

Jackie Oh gained a first Pattern race success as she stayed on for Group Three glory in the Darley Rathbride Stakes at Gowran Park.

Hailing from a family that includes Breeders’ Cup winner Line Of Duty, Jackie Oh won a Naas maiden on her racecourse bow in March but had been out of luck since, hitting the bar in Listed company before being beaten just under six lengths when fifth in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

She failed to sparkle in a competitive handicap at Royal Ascot – but partnered by Colin Keane, the Aidan O’Brien-trained filly certainly made her presence felt in this nine-furlong contest.

Jackie Oh stayed on to excellent effect in the final furlong, eventually accounting for Village Voice by a cosy three lengths as a 3-1 shot.

While she still holds an entry in next week’s Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, stable representative Chris Armstrong felt a swift return would be unlikely, with Irish Champions Weekend in September a possible target.

He said: “She’s a filly that has had a few good runs already. Colin gave her a lovely ride.

“The ground, at this stage, is probably important to her. That’s a very important bracket to get with her pedigree.

“A mile-and-one or a mile-and-two is probably her trip. Aidan left her in the Nassau at the confirmation stage the other day just as a back-up and it will probably come too soon.

“We’ll probably give her a bit of time and maybe bring her back on Irish Champions Weekend for something like the Blandford Stakes.

“She could go to France as well, she has plenty of options. She’s a lovely filly and it’s nice to get the win for Triermore Stud as well.”

Connections of Westover were left “devasted but delighted” following his narrow defeat in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot.

Last year’s Irish Derby hero disappointed as a hot favourite for Ascot’s midsummer showpiece 12 months ago, but was this time carried out on his shield.

Turning out just three weeks after doubling his Group One tally in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, the Ralph Beckett-trained four-year-old was a 7-1 shot in the hands of Rob Hornby and moved to the lead early in the home straight.

Westover and Hukum engaged in a titanic duel with two furlongs to run and while the latter secured top honours by a head, the runner-up lost little in defeat.

“What a horse, what a horse race. We’re devasted but delighted,” said Barry Mahon, racing manager for Westover’s owner-breeders Juddmonte.

“He’s run a career-best in what was being touted beforehand as the middle-distance race of the year and he went down gallantly. I felt he was even battling back again at the finish.

“He put it all on the line and he’s doing what we thought he’d do this year. Last year he was big and immature and he’s mentally and physically grown up.

“To break the track record the last day in Saint-Cloud was a big performance and to back it up with a run like that three weeks later is unbelievable.

“We haven’t really thought about what’s next. We’ll see how he comes out of it and make a plan in a couple of weeks’ time.”

Hornby similarly had mixed emotions, saying: “This race deserves a spectacle like that and to have an ovation for this horse, coming second like we did, was special.

“It is tough to take, but I’m really proud of him. It is always tough when you are just denied like that and it was such a heroic battle.

“He stays very well. He rolled around twice and I pulled my stick through and corrected him. When he got into a head to head, he was tough all the way to the line and he was just edged out unfortunately.”

King Of Steel, runner-up in the Derby at Epsom before landing the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, emerged best of the rest in third for Roger Varian.

“I think he ran a great race, he lost nothing in defeat and came there with a great chance. He has been beaten by two mature, good, older horses,” said the Newmarket handler.

“I’m not sure he got home as well as the first two. We have always got the option of coming back to 10 furlongs, but he had some great horses in behind him, two very good ones in front of him, and it’s only his fifth run, so he can only improve can’t he?

“He has the scope and is a big horse. I’m sure he needs a little time between races. He’s had a tough race today, but he’s like a teenager, still.

“He is a good horse. We’d be happier if he’d won, but we think he ran a great race.

“We got beat, but it was a super race – a championship race. He turned up and really ran his race.”

The disappointment of the contest was Aidan O’Brien’s Auguste Rodin, who narrowly denied King Of Steel Derby glory at Epsom last month before following up in the Irish Derby.

He was the 9-4 favourite to follow in the hoofprints of Ballydoyle great Galileo by adding the King George to his two Derby wins, but was under pressure a long way from home and was eased right down in the end by Ryan Moore to finish last of 10.

O’Brien said: “There are no excuses. Whatever happened, the power ran out and it ran out early.

“That is the unusual thing. The race wasn’t even started.

“He was calm in the paddock, we were very happy with him. There is obviously a reason and we’ll find it. It is frustrating, but that’s the way.”

Rosallion put his name forward as a top-class colt in the making with a stunning display in the Flexjet Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot.

Of the 10 juveniles that went to post for the Listed contest nine were previous winners and six were unbeaten, including Rosallion, who was an 11-1 shot following a debut victory at Newbury.

Sean Levey cut a confident figure in the saddle throughout, still sitting motionless in behind while several of his rivals came under the pump.

Once asked to go about his business, Rosallion swiftly went through the gears to grab the lead and motored four lengths clear in the style of a horse destined for bigger and better things.

Al Musmak was second, with the hat-trick seeking 7-4 favourite Ancient Wisdom only third.

Hannon said: “He’s a good horse, we always thought he was a good horse – he’s my (2000) Guineas horse.

“The further he goes, the better he goes. He’s in the National Stakes in Ireland and will obviously be in the Dewhurst and we’re thinking about next year.

“He’s not a small horse, he has loads of scope and he behaves like a very good horse.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.