The blinkered Olympic Glory runs away with the Queen Elizabeth II StakesPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Olympic Glory strikes gold for team Hannon
Report: Ascot, Saturday
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by Qipco) Group 1 1m, 3yo+
OLYMPIC GLORY showed his true ability in first-time blinkers as the Richard Hannon-trained three-year-old ran away with the big mile prize on Champions Day under a well-judged ride from Richard Hughes, winning by three and a quarter lengths.
The success was another big one for owner Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, following on from his victory with Treve in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
"Richard was confident in the horse and so were we," said the winning owner. "Hughesie did a great job on him."
The 11-2 winner destroyed his 11 rivals off the strong pace. Back in second was Top Notch Tonto, who ran a blinder, as did Kingsbarns in third.
The 2-1 favourite Dawn Approach was behind them, while the fancied Soft Falling Rain didn't handle the ground and beat only one home.
The ground was clearly important for Olympic Glory. He has always been a good horse but his inconsistency had left many with doubts about him actually winning a Group 1 on the big stage this term. His narrow defeat to Moonlight Cloud in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville in August was as good a form as any could produce in this field and that was the colt we saw.
Under a strong pace set by Soft Falling Rain's pacemaker Burwaaz, Hughes was able to comfortably sit in behind. Indeed, so well was he going that he seemed happy to take a pull and wait as Top Notch Tonto made a bold bid for home two furlongs out. The winning partnership squeezed through the gap between Dawn Approach and Kingsbarns and from there the result was never in doubt.
"We always believed in him and what a trainer! If Richard Hannon was training these good horses 20 years ago no-one would have got a look in," said Hughes. "He just travelled so well on the ground."
The trainer's son Richard Hannon jnr concurred. "He showed how good he was today and goes well on that ground. It's a bit of a shout with a good horse like him [to put blinkers on], but he lost concentration last time."
Brian Ellison was obviously thrilled with his Top Notch Tonto, supplemented for £70,000.
He said: "It's brilliant. I've never been so happy to finish second. It was a huge gamble but we knew on soft to heavy ground he'd improve again. On that ground he's a really good horse."
Kingsbarns' trainer Aidan O'Brien said: "I'm delighted with that. It all went wrong for him in the spring and this was like our first run of the season. I'd imagine that will be it for this year and we'll look forward to next season with him."
But the ground was the issue for the many of the main contenders. Maxios didn't handle it, as connections confirmed afterwards. Soft Falling Rain, as many feared, could not go in the conditions. And it was the same for Dawn Approach.
The Godolphin-owned colt travelled well but could battle on only at one pace. After an 11-race career, including four Group 1s, he will now be retired to stud and should make a fine stallion.
His trainer Jim Bolger said: "He came there very easily two down and gave himself every chance but just floundered in it.