GBI RACING

Aljazzi demolishes Duke of Cambridge field

Aljazzi was a clear-cut winner of the Duke of Cambridge Stakes

Aljazzi went one better than 12 months ago when routing the opposition in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot.

A surprise second to Qemah last year, Marco Botti had plotted the first half of the season around a return to this Group Two contest.

Sent off the 9-2 second-favourite behind the Aidan O’Brien-trained Hydrangea, William Buick was content to settle his mount at the back of the pack.

Billesdon Bess was allowed an easy lead and was still in front a furlong and a half out when Tribute Act shot to the head of affairs.

But as soon as Buick found open space on Aljazzi (9-2), the race was over and she burst clear.

Tribute Act was at the head of the chasing pack in second, with Epsom winner Wilamina a fine third.

Hydrangea was a big disappointment and was one of the first beaten.

After many years of trying and several near-misses, it was a first winner at the meeting for Botti.

He said: “We’ve been so close so many times, it’s just nice to have one (a Royal Ascot winner) on the board.

“William gave her a great ride and she showed a great turn of foot.”

He went on: “We came last year hoping for a place, she was 50-1 and ran a huge race. This year we were a little bit more confident.

“William gave her a great ride and she loves fast ground. She showed a tremendous turn of foot. The last furlong I was getting quite excited. Today was the day.

“She is one of those fillies that can wind herself up before the race. You could see she was a little bit warm and the races take a bit out of her.

“For that reason we tend to space the races out for her. We always had in mind to give her one run at either Sandown or in the Lockinge and then come straight here, so she had enough space between the races, and everything has gone to plan.”

Looking to future plans, Botti said: “I would imagine after today there is a month to the Falmouth (Stakes, at Newmarket) and I would imagine that will be the next target, all being well.

“It is great to get a Royal Ascot winner. I’ve been waiting for a few years, we’ve been so close with Dandino, Excelebration and Euro Charlene. To have one on the board is fantastic.”

The Earl of Wessex presents the prize for the Duke of Cambridge Stakes to Marco Botti
The Earl of Wessex presents the prize for the Duke of Cambridge Stakes to Marco Botti (Nigel French/AP)

Buick said: “The race worked out perfectly. This is a track this filly excels at. The races (at Ascot) can develop for a closer sometimes and this is a filly who warms up into her races.

“When I hit the halfway mark she really came alive beneath me. Let’s hope she can get an elusive Group One next to her name.”

James Fanshawe, the trainer of Tribute Act, said: “She ran really well. She’s always looked good at home and last year she was a bit weak and probably not quite right.

“She’s really thrived since she was second in the fillies’ handicap here in May. I rang Tony Hill and Dan Downie (both of the Elite Racing Club) and asked if I could supplement her. They said ‘yes, game on’, and it’s paid off.

“I thought for a minute we might have got it and then suddenly Marco’s filly came from out of the clouds and from behind us.

“She’s been second in a Group Two, so we’ll have a look.”

Wilamina’s trainer, Martyn Meade, said: “I’m thrilled to bits. You couldn’t have asked for more, really. She tried her heart out, here we are in a Group Two, a creditable third.”

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