Clifford Lee rides first Royal Ascot winner as Significantly strikes
Clifford Lee landed his first Royal Ascot winner as the aptly named Significantly held off his rivals in the Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes.
The Karl Burke-trained runner was last in the gate after causing trouble for stalls handlers, but kept enough energy in reserve to hold off the rapidly closing Boomshalaa and Fantasy Master.
Lee said: "I’m delighted to get my first Royal Ascot winner, it means the world. We’re in this game to ride winners and find a really nice horse, and not many of them come around, so when you get the chances you’ve got to take them with both hands.
"It was very hard work, especially that last furlong. The owner Jeff Laughton has been really good to me and put me on a good horse – and it’s paid off."
It was a rare moment in the spotlight for Significantly, taking just his second win while coming home runner-up in seven of his 11 starts.
The three-year-old had something to prove after going unsold in the Goffs London sale on Monday, leading the near-side pack and travelling up the rail to take the lead inside the final furlong.
Despite the rallying field, the 10-1 shot was able to hold off Andrea Atzeni and Boomshalaa by a head.
"He’s a very talented horse. He’s shown that all along and he always saves a little bit for himself," Burke said. "The plan was to come and stick under that rail, and he’s held on.
"A winner like this is huge. We’ve run creditably through the week, but it’s so hard – you need the draw, you need the luck, you need everything."
Double for Oisin Murphy as progressive Quickthorn rises to the challenge
Quickthorn provided trainer Hughie Morrison with his fourth winner in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes and jockey Oisin Murphy with his second winner of the day in an eventful couple of hours for the champion jockey.
The progressive four-year-old defied a 13lb rise and justified 7-2 favouritism to win cosily by a length and a half from outsider Raymond Tusk, with the Mark Johnston-trained Zabeel Champion in third.
Murphy said: "That was a very cleverly thought-out plan. I know the lads in the yard fancied him and they'll be having a big party.
"Hughie Morrison is a top man, such a character, I get on great with him."
Coming out of stall 19, Murphy waited until approaching the final furlong before delivering the son of Nathaniel with a confidence that suggests there is further improvement to come.
Morrison's first winner in the 1m4f handicap was in 2003 with Waverley before following up with Cill Rialaig (2010) and Arab Dawn (2015).
The Berkshire trainer emphasised the patience that was required after only one win in four starts as a three-year-old.
“Last year he just wasn’t quite right," he said. "We took a very brave decision to turn him away for six months. Look what we’ve got.
“He is obviously a very good horse. If we can keep him the way he is I suppose we could dream about the Ebor maybe.”
Murtagh enjoys first Royal Ascot win with brilliant Create Belief
Johnny Murtagh landed his first Royal Ascot win as a trainer when Create Belief bolted through the rain to land the Sandringham Stakes.
The three-year-old flew up the rail to leave the field behind for a first royal meeting success for Ben Coen, with favourite Samoot and Messidor chasing the winner home.
Murtagh is no stranger to the winner’s enclosure at Ascot, but it was his first success where he entered on foot, after taking up his training licence in 2013.
Murtagh said: "Royal Ascot is the best week of the year. It’s very special, it’s magical, and to come back here and train a winner now, after all those successes as a jockey, it’s a different feeling altogether. I feel very proud and privileged to be here.
"She was always in a good position; there weren't too many anxious moments really. She’s on the up and hopefully she can go on now and be competitive in Group races."
The wet weather would have been a welcome sight for Murtagh’s team, with Create Belief’s two wins coming in soft to heavy ground.
While other fillies tired in the testing ground, the 6-1 runner tore up to the line to win by five-and-a-half lengths.
Coen said: "I grew up watching Johnny ride winners here, and now I’m riding winners for him, so it’s a dream come true.
"I couldn’t ask for a better mentor, especially coming here for my first time. I was happy this morning when I woke up and saw the rain. I was looking forward to this one all week."
Murtagh rode 48 winners at Royal Ascot during his racing career, most notably Yeats's record-breaking fourth Gold Cup.
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