Barney Roy smashed the course record to gain a first G1 success in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on Tuesday, June 20, with Thunder Snow taking third in the mile contest for three-year-old colts.
An eventful start saw Barney Roy’s saddle slip backwards leaving the stalls, but James Doyle soon recovered on the Richard Hannon-trained colt, who raced in fourth of the eight runners, a place behind Thunder Snow.
The Saeed bin Suroor-trained Thunder Snow was switched out by Christophe Soumillon to press Lancaster Bomber for the lead over a furlong out, with Barney Roy quickening strongly to pass both horses just inside the final furlong.
Barney Roy asserted in the closing stages to beat Lancaster Bomber by a length in 1m 37.22s on good to firm ground, shaving more than a second off the previous best time for the round mile, with Thunder Snow a head back in third.
It was a G1 double on the day for Godolphin after Ribchester won the Queen Anne Stakes, also in a course record time.
Richard Hannon said: “We felt Barney Roy was unlucky in the Guineas [when stumbling in the dip], and if he was lucky he would win today, and so it proved. We have massive respect for Churchill, and I don’t think he has run his true race today (in fourth), but we were there to take advantage.
“I was frustrated after the Guineas because he was a little inexperienced – that was what beat him. He nodded going into the dip, lost his stride, and I thought he had broken down. To his credit he quickened up against horses that were already quickening, while Churchill got a lovely run, which was well executed by them.
“I felt that a flatter track here, without any undulations, would play to his strengths. James came down and rode him around a right-hand bend at Kempton last week, and he worked brilliantly on Sunday, and it’s all paid off.
“I’m sure our horse will get further – he’s in the Eclipse Stakes [10 furlongs] and the Arc [12 furlongs] – he takes time to pick up and he’s very relaxed, but a horse having just his fourth race, and to beat a Guineas winner, is very good.
“We’ll take him home, see how he is, and talk to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed. He’s done nothing wrong over a mile, so don’t get me wrong, but he will get further.
“You don’t get another crack at the Guineas, but the season rolls on and he’ll have a few chances along the way. We brought him here as a fresh horse, so didn’t go to the Irish Guineas or anywhere else. That was what Sheikh Mohammed wanted, and he was dead right.
“It means everything to win this – we’ve had a lot of good milers through our hands and when they leave there is a big hole in the yard, so we are frantically searching for the next one. We thought we had one, and after the Guineas we knew we had one – we just had to get the best out of him.”
James Doyle commented: “That is only the fourth run of his life and he is still learning. In my mind, I just wanted to give him plenty of time to pick up and allow for that inexperience to kick in and he straightened up well and galloped all the way to the line.
“He has learnt a lot from the 2000 Guineas. We’ve done a few bits with him at home. I sat on him a couple of weeks ago at the Hannons’ and then we took him to Kempton, more for the experience really.
“He is very babyish, but he is learning all the time and he has come out on top at the line. I knew that given a bit of time and some room, he would be motoring and he proved that today.
“I knew we could draw a line through the 2000 Guineas as that race was a complete mess. We knew he had an engine and it was just about channeling that in the right direction.
“I think he will learn so much that he will sharpen up with racing. He is going to get quicker and I am sure he is going to stay a mile and a quarter no doubt, but he is a pretty good miler at the minute.
“It has been an up-and-down season, but when I knew I got the ride on this fellow, I was pretty excited.
“He felt good at Newbury and then things did not go our way in the Guineas, but he proved there what a tough horse he is.
“The tack slipped a bit today which was a bit of a worry. I sat still for a bit and was able to get it back up there. It is bit nerve-racking because you can never tell how far it has gone back.
“I committed Barney Roy off of the turn and he stuck at it really well. It was great. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it.”
The jockey is an integral part of the Godolphin operation and he was delighted to provide Godolphin founder Sheikh Mohammed with another big-race success.
He continued: “Today means everything. This is why I joined the team to ride big winners like this. To get one on a day like today with Sheikh Mohammed here makes me feel very proud. It’s very important and there’s a great sense of pride to ride him a proper Group One winner at Royal Ascot.
“Looking at Churchill’s replays again and again, trying to find a chink in his armour, it did not look like there was one. I thought he was either an outstanding horse who only does enough or he is just a good horse. Luckily, he is just a good horse and we have got one a bit better.”
Saeed bin Suroor reported about Thunder Snow: “I’m happy with him – he ran really well. I think he would be better with easy ground, but I’m happy with the way he ran.”