Cheers for Strawberrydaiquiri in Windsor Forest

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Cheers for Strawberrydaiquiri in Windsor Forest

A Strawberry Daiquiri can be a potent cocktail and so can Sir Michael Stoute when mixed with a horse of potential who requires patience.  

A 37% strike-rate with his older division in Group races this season proves just what a master Stoute is but mere figures cannot give the full picture. Strawberrydaiquiri is a testament to the endless thinking that goes into the process as the trainer has gradually brought this filly through the ranks over the last 14 months to win the Group Two Windsor Forest Stakes.

Patience did not seem to be in great supply with the grey herself as she pulled hard from the start, despite the best efforts of Ryan Moore. Realising that he was fighting a losing battle, Moore then let Strawberrydaiquiri stride on as she took control of the race and it was only Spacious, the winner of this race last year, who was able to lay down a challenge.

That challenge, Johnny Murtagh brought Spacious from behind the leader to get upsides the leader in the final quarter-mile, was a thrilling one as the pair duelled through the last furlong. Spacious appeared to get her head in front at one point but just could not sustain that surge as Strawberrydaiquiri (pictured right) prevailed by a short-head with Antara three lengths away in third.

“Ryan was very clever to do what he did, because we would have loved a lead - that’s how we’ve always ridden her - but he had to grab the initiative, especially with a tailwind. She’s a tough filly and we feared there wouldn’t be any pace and that she would be vulnerable over a mile. The next step is to go 10 furlongs.

Moore, who was completing double initiated on Rainfall in the Jersey Stakes, said: “She tries very hard and was very game at Newmarket [on her seasonal debut]. When I asked her she gave a little bit more, and she’ll be really nice when she goes up in distance.”

A few yards away James Fanshawe, the trainer of Spacious, was accepting defeat through gritted teeth. “Five minutes ago I was a bit emotional but she ran really well and is a credit to the yard,” he said. “I thought we might be getting the upper hand with half a furlong to go but Strawberrydaiquiri just got the upper hand in the last little bit.”

The victory was Stoute’s 62nd at the royal meeting, leaving him just nine behind Henry Cecil, but only until Cecil won the concluding Sandringham Handicap with Timepiece.

Royal Ascot’s most successful trainer, who won his first race at the meeting with Parthenon in the Queen Alexandra Stakes in 1970, had dropped Timepiece both in class and distance after she had finished ninth in the Oaks at Epsom.

This straight mile seemed much more to her liking and her stamina came into play when, having taken the lead over a furlong out, she found more for Tom Queally when needed to see off runner-up, Blue maiden by one-and-a-quarter lengths.

“We were coming back from a mile-and-a-half to a mile and she doesn’t seem to have a distance. She works very well and always look like she stays and we decided to try a stiff mile to tell us what to do in the future. I think she’ll get a mile-and-a-quarter so we’ll just have to see what we do,” Cecil said.

Looking ahead to Manifest, his runner in the Gold Cup, Cecil said: “He wouldn’t want any jar in the ground because he got a bit jarred up at York and took a bit of time to get over it. The Prince [Khalid Abdulla] has never won the Gold Cup and maybe this is the horse to change that. He has to stay the distance but I feel he will and he would also like a bit of give in the ground.”

Cecil himself has proved a thorough stayer, having come through some tough times, and remains a true favourite with racegoers. “The crowd here are lovely and always very good to me. It was always my ambition to get to one hundred winners here which I might have done if I hadn’t had 10 years in the doldrums but I don’t think God will let me do that now.”

Who knows? A little patience can work wonders.



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