November 30, 2023

Without Parole, Accidental Agent and Blue Point star on Royal Ascot opener

Royal Ascot's 2018 opening day featured a crowd of 46,773, a 5.6% increase from 44,285 last year (c) Frank Sorge/

Without Parole handled the class hike with aplomb and established himself as a top 3-year-old miler in Europe with a game half-length victory in St James’s Palace (G1), one of four group stakes on the opening-day of the 2018 Royal Ascot meet. Now unbeaten from four starts, the Frankel colt was making his first attempt at the group level after taking the May 24 Heron at Sandown in his previous outing. He’s a homebred for Tanya and John Gunther, breeders of U.S. Triple Crown winner Justify.

Favored at 9-4 odds, Without Parole was the second of three wins on the program for John Gosden, who has now won 46 races at Royal Ascot. Frankie Dettori was aboard all three for Gosden and increased his Royal Ascot win total to 59.

Without Parole stalked in second as U S Navy Flag showed the way on a clear advantage and seized the lead with a little more than a furlong remaining, opening a clear lead as the field drove for home. Irish 2000 Guineas (G1) third-placer Gustav Klimt rallied boldly in deep stretch to make for a suspenseful finish, but Without Parole dug in determinedly and gamely prevailed.

“US Navy Flag had gone, and Frankie said, ‘I had to go after him – I was frightened he had got three lengths, and in the end I went a bit soon,’” Gosden said. “Then of course with Aidan (trainer of U S Navy Flag and Gustav Klimt) there is another arrow at your back – there always is another arrow.

“But look, Without Parole is a grand horse. There were no hiding places in that race. It was proper, proper Group 1 pace. I think he is still on the up and still learning. At the moment he has a bigger middle than me, which is not a good thing in a racehorse!

“I think he could stay at a mile or go up. I think he was green on the bend and Frankie was having to say, ‘come on old boy, come on old boy’. He’s so lazy at home. I’ve never seen a horse eat and sleep like it, which is a great, great thing in a racehorse. I think he will improve, he’ll get sharper and I think he will get a little further too.”

Gunther, who sold Justify for $500,000 to WinStar Farm, China Horse Racing Club et al at the 2016 Keeneland September sale, relished winning his first race at Royal Ascot.

“It is a dream come true,” Gunther said. “In all the 20 years I have been coming to Royal Ascot, my dream was just to have a horse run at Royal Ascot. Then we start in a Group 1 and do it; I don’t know what to say.

“This does mean more (than breeding Triple Crown winner Justify) and always will. This was the most important and means everything to me. To be able to mate the mare to Frankel and Juddmonte giving me that nomination even though the mare was unproven. To go through all that and then watch Without Parole being raised as a yearling was so special.”

Without Parole is out of unraced Lemon Drop Kid mare Without You Babe, a half-sister to Stay Thirsty, an earner of more than $1.9 million who counted the Travers (G1) and Cigar Mile H. (G1) among his stakes victories. Without You Babe’s first foal, Tamarkuz, captured the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) after she had been bred to Frankel.

Dettori explained his tactics aboard Without Parole.

“I had to move because Ryan Moore (who was on U S Navy Flag) in front is always very dangerous and then when I got to him, I looked up and thought ‘oh, I still have a furlong to go, I’m a sitting duck here,’” the multiple champion rider said. “In fairness, Without Parole answered every call of mine. He has only run four times and to do what he did was great. Without Parole is a lovely horse with a big future.

“The guys who watched him going to the start will have seen that he moves so good (on fast ground). Without Parole travelled well but a furlong and a half out I was out in front on my own with no-one to help me. I wish I had somebody to keep me company, but that race made a man of him and what a horse he is – this is the first proper race he has had.”

Gustav Klimt easily held second, 2 ¾ lengths better than Wooten in third. English 2000 Guineas (G1) runner-up Tip Two Win came next in fourth and was followed by Kings Shield, Gabr, Romanised, Threeandfourpence, U S Navy Flag and Chilean.

The Queen Anne (G1), a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), featured a 33-1 upset from Accidental Agent, who gamely ran down 20-1 outsider Lord Glitters to score by a half-length. Twice stakes-placed at the listed level, the 4-year-old colt improved significantly upon a sixth in the May 19 Lockinge (G1) at Newbury to net his first stakes tally.

Trainer Eve Johnson Houghton and jockey Charlie Bishop recorded their first Group 1 and Royal Ascot wins with the son of Delegator. Houghton’s mother, Gaie, bred and campaigns the bay colt.

“Unbelievable! I still can’t believe it. I haven’t slept for two nights,” said Eve Johnson Houghton, whose father Fulke trained 10 Royal Ascot winners between 1965 and 1988. “I dreamt that he would be third. My mum bred Accidental Agent – we have got the mare in the field – but nobody wanted to buy him and we bought him back for eight grand.

“I thought I was tilting at windmills. I dreamt about finishing third and then watching it I said ‘oh my god, we are going to place.’ “The poor people sitting in front of me and my Mum – I apologize to them – they will definitely be deaf because there was an awful lot of screaming going on. It is just ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.

“You might need to man the lifeboats as there are a lot of tears! Group 1 winner…And my mother bred him. What a legend she is – I’m so proud of her. And luckily I had a tiny bit each-way at 50/1 to pay for the party – come on!”

Lord Glitters wound up a neck better than 10-1 Lightning Spear as the favorites failed to mount a serious challenge in the Queen Anne. Century Dream was fourth at 20-1 and next came American challenger Yoshida, who advanced into contention before flattening out to finish a creditable fifth at 11-1 in the mile contest.

“It was a great run and I thought at one stage that he might have a chance of winning,” said reigning U.S. Eclipse Award-winning jockey Jose Ortiz, Jose Ortiz, who rode for the first time at Royal Ascot. “He travelled really well and I’m pleased with the performance.”

Beat The Bank came next in sixth and was followed by Recoletos, So Beloved, 10-3 second choice Rhododendron, 11-4 favorite Benbatl, Oh This Is Us, Deauville, Limato, Suedois and Zonderland.

The 5-furlong King’s Stand (G1) served as the other marquee event on Tuesday’s opener and Godolphin’s Blue Point fired late to win going away by nearly two lengths for trainer Charlie Appleby and jockey William Buick. The 4-year-old Shamrdal colt left the gate at 6-1.

Battash, the 9-4 second choice, performed admirably to hold second after setting a pressured pace. Lady Aurelia, the 2-1 favorite in a title defense, weakened to be a disappointing seventh after chasing the pace during the early stages.

A neck second when opening 2018 in the Meydan Sprint (G2), Blue Point rebounded from a disappointing ninth in the April 29 Chairman Sprint Prize (G1) at Sha Tin. A Group 2 winner in 2016 and two-time Group 3 hero last season, the Irish-bred improved his overall record to 12-6-3-2.

“Full credit has to go to the team at home who have done a fantastic job with Blue Point and getting him back to where he is,” said Appleby, who notched his fifth career win at Royal Ascot. “I couldn’t have been happier with his preparation in the last two weeks and I felt he was back at a level where he could compete after he did a great piece of work the other week.

These are the same connections of recent English Derby (G1) winner Masar.

“To have a Derby winner and then have a winner at Royal Ascot is great and coming into today, I don’t think I could have had Blue Point in any better nick,” the trainer added. “Sheikh Mohammed is a great man and coming into today, there was no pressure on us following Epsom as he just wanted to enjoy the week.”

“Blue Point was following the fast pace and was travelling very well,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “He hit the rise and gave more. I think that he is a very good horse. We raced him in Dubai and he was sweating very much but today he was very, very good. Charlie has been with us for a long time and he knew what we want – we always talk to each other about things. William is a very good jockey. They are two very good people. After Masar and the Derby, we are taking it very easy. We are enjoying ourselves and Royal Ascot – whoever wins, we will clap for them. We are relaxing now, but we have some ammunition for the rest of the week.”

Mabs Cross wound up third at 20-1. Finsbury Square, Bucchero and Different League came next under the wire. Washington DC was eighth and Kachy, Gifted Master, Battle of Jericho, Ornate, Primo Uomo and Declarationofpeace completed the order of finish.

The Coventry (G2) for 2-year-olds featured an exciting up-and-comer in Calyx, who lived up to his 2-1 favoritism with a comfortable one-length triumph in the 6-furlong affair. Trained by Gosden and ridden by Dettori, the King Abdullah homebred is from the first crop of Kingman.

A smart debut winner at Newmarket on June 9, Calyx has Gosden excited.

“Calyx is very talented,” the Newmarket-based conditioner said. “His father was exceptionally talented and Calyx has all of those attributes…We’ve won this race before but he does make you get up in the morning. Calyx has had to race on his own for the last two furlongs with a huge crowd screaming. That is a big ordeal for him and I think he did amazingly to win. I could have easily seen him getting distracted with nothing to race with.

“He has got a good bit of scope and is a lovely horse to be around. He is a bit full of himself, but I was just very impressed that he could take the running up because nothing was left on his side.”

“He’s still a bit green, a bit quirky, but he has a real natural talent,” Dettori added. “To do that second time out in the Coventry, you’ve got to be pretty special. He’s a horse with a great cruising speed and a good kick – for them you want top of the ground.”

Advertise came next in second and Sergei Prokofiev finished third.

Willie Mullins, Ireland’s champion steeplechase trainer, continued to display his affinity for the Ascot Handicap when sending out Lagostovegas to a 10-1 upset. Now a six-time winner at Royal Ascot, Mullins logged his fourth victory in the 2 ½-mile event.

Owned by John Donohue and ridden by Andrea Atzeni, the 6-year-old Lagostovegas was one of only two females among 20 entrants.

The five-day Royal Meeting continues Wednesday.

Check out the 2018 Royal Ascot News & Notes Blog for more news and analysis