Dubai: German filly Danedream joined the likes of Shergar, Brigadier Gerard, and Swain on the illustrious list of past champions of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) with a heroic victory over defending champion Nathaniel at Ascot yesterday.
Ridden by 38-year-old jockey Andrash Starke, who ironically picked up a six-day whip ban for striking his horse over the permissible limit of seven, Danedream won by a bob of the head at the line.
William Buick, who was aboard the runner-up, also earned a two-day ban for excessive use of the whip, while Joseph O’Brien riding third-placed St. Nicholas Abbey went home with a costly seven-day ban.
Danedream secured her place as one of the great fillies in modern racing history by becoming the first female horse to complete the King George and Arc de Triomphe double. She also become the first filly in almost 30 years to win the King George, which was first run in 1951. As many as 21 fillies have failed since.
Time Charter was the last of her breed to triumph in Ascot’s mid-summer showpiece when prevailing in 1983.
Danedream has earned herself a shot at some of Europe’s biggest races this season, including Germany’s Grosser Preis von Baden (G1) in September, followed by the Arc, a race she won in imperious fashion last October when trouncing her rivals by five lengths.
A trip to Asia for the prestigious Japan Cup (G1) also beckons.
Starke, who was overwhelmed by the whole occasion and the thrill of receiving the trophy from the Queen, said: “There was an unbelievable feeling from German racing after she won the Arc, and I think after today, it’s like the Olympics again.
“German racing is very proud after today because England is much more of a difficult step, especially this kind of race, with a hill; it’s very tough, especially for the filly.”
Nathaniel’s trainer John Gosden took the defeat in his stride and was looking ahead into the future with his star.
“You’ve got races like the Arc, the Champion Stakes, the Juddmonte International, but let’s just see how he is. I’ve just asked him a big question, he answered it,” the British great said.
“I think to come back in two weeks and run that kind of race is phenomenal; I’d be over the moon with the horse. He’s shown an enormous amount of class and courage.
“Obviously, Danedream found form again. When she won the Arc last year, no colt could live with her; she broke the record time and she was the best Arc winner I’ve seen since Peintre Celebre. And she’s come back to her best today and chinned us on the line. If you talk about honour in defeat, I think that defines it.”
Deep Brillante, the Japanese Derby winner who was expected to run a big race, disappointed, and could only beat one horse home in the 10-runner field.