Breege breezes in to win Princess Elizabeth Stakes on Betfred Derby day at Epsom

Breege, ridden by Jason Hart (front centre, light green), on the way to winning the Princess Elizabeth Stakes on Betfred Derby day at Epsom Downs Racecourse on Saturday, June 1 2024
-Credit: (Image: John Walton/PA)

Breege (5-1) just the better of a three-way fight to win the Group Three Princess Elizabeth Stakes.

The John and Sean Quinn-trained four-year-old filly hit the front over a furlong out, under Jason Hart. But the challengers were stacking up in behind as Chic Colombine (11-4), under Liverpool FC fan and jockey William Buick, and from a little further back James Tate's Royal Dress (14-1), under Ben Coen, started to close. But Breege stuck on well to score by a neck from Chic Colombine with the luckless Royal Dress – who had tried to go for a couple of gaps only to blocked off before he got a clear run – another half-a-length back in third. But the Quinns' Starspangledbannner filly, who had third behind Royal Dress in a Listed event at Goodwood, turned the form around to triumph.

The John and Thady Gosden-trained 13-8 favourite Running Lion suffered more Epsom pain. She had to be withdrawn from last year's Oaks following an issue in the stalls and she also encountered problems in running here before finishing last of the eight runners.

But Breege will now step up into Group Two company at Royal Ascot later this month. John Quinn, joint trainer with his son Sean, said: "She's a filly that was running at the highest level last year, she was placed at Royal Ascot and just touched off in the Whispering Angel at Glorious Goodwood. She ran well all last year and ran really well on her comeback this season at Goodwood, beaten two short heads, but people have started suggesting she didn't want to win.

"We didn't think that, we thought she was just unlucky and today she gritted it out. She really battled and she's got her head in front again. It's wonderful to win a race named after the late Queen at this wonderful track. As long as she is OK she will run in the Group Two fillies' race at Royal Ascot, the Duke of Cambridge, all being well. You couldn't say she didn't deserve this so we're delighted."

Winning rider Hart added: “It’s hard to believe that she’s only ever won a maiden. She has some high-class form, she’s always threatened to win a big one – hopefully that can be a springboard now for her to have a good year.

Trainer George Boughey was delighted with runner-up Chic Colombine and he is eying a crack at the Group One Coronation Stakes at the Royal meeting next. He said: "I was delighted with her and it was what I expected, she was very unlucky and William (Buick) said he just couldn't get the gap. She's a filly who did very well through the spring and the performance didn't surprise me. She's highly touted, we thought she would get the job done and she nearly did. The Coronation Stakes is on the cards for her. She won't want fast ground and conditions today were perfect for her - we know she handles very soft ground."

William Buick, Chic Colombine's partner, added: “She was a bit unlucky. I couldn’t get the run when I needed it and had to come up and round – she probably should have won.”

Trainer James Tate said of third home, Royal Dress: "I'm proud of the filly and she came here in great nick. I thought she had come on since the Listed race she won at Goodwood. She beat Breege in that race at Goodwood and I do feel with a clear run she would have won again today."

Jamie Spencer and Royal Scotsman (right, pink/green) win the Betfred Diomed Stakes on Betfred Derby Day at Epsom Downs Racecourse on Saturday, June 1 2024
Jamie Spencer and Royal Scotsman (right, pink/green) win the Betfred Diomed Stakes on Betfred Derby Day at Epsom Downs Racecourse on Saturday, June 1 2024 -Credit:Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Royal Scotsman (17-2) ran out an impressive winner of the Group Three Betfred Diomed Stakes. The Paul and Oliver Cole-trained four-year-old son of Gleneagles had been a smart juvenile, finishing third at Royal Ascot before winning the Group Two Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. But he had not won since that success in July 2022, despite finishing second in the Group One Dewhurst Stakes later that season and third to Chaldean in last season's 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

But having been down the field on his seasonal return in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last month, connections dropped down to Group Three company and Royal Scotsman got back on track, leading for much of the race and powering clear in the final two furlongs to win by two-and-a-quarters-of-a-length ahead of Royal Dubai (6-1) with 7-2 favourite Highland Avenue a further length adrift in third with Sean (10-1) fourth.

Joint trainer Oliver Cole said: "We've always thought a lot of this horse. He probably had a good chance in the Dewhurst and was unlucky, he probably had a very good chance in the Guineas and was unlucky. After that there were a couple of disappointing runs, he had bone bruising and then in the Lockinge he cocked his jaw when he came out the stalls. Since then we've done lots of stalls work as he was panicking, we put the Monty Roberts rug on him and I spoke to Jamie three times this week and told him just to hold the neck strap. I said it very respectfully as he's a jockey and I'm not, but I just wanted to give him all the rein he could possibly give him and just jump and go forward.

"He's done that very well and the plan was always to go forward today so he can relax in front. These Gleneagles horses are quite highly strung and if you get into a tussle early on, it costs you at the end. It proved that at the end of his two-year-old career and his three-year-old career, but he's done that very well and I couldn't be more happy. In the back of my mind I thought he might let us down again, but he really didn't."

Glorious Goodwood and a return to the top level in the Sussex Stakes looks next on the agenda for Royal Scotsman. Cole added: "Maybe he will go to the Sussex Stakes now. He has an entry at Ascot, but I think that will come too quick. Now we've got the hang of him, hopefully there is fun to be had. We could even drop him back to seven furlongs or six, he's such a good horse and it would not surprise me if he won a Group One over six furlongs. He's so fast at home and the speed he gets up to and the ground he covers is amazing. It would be brilliant to take him back to Goodwood and see what he is made of, but what a relief today is."

Joint trainer Paul Cole, meanwhile, said winning at Epsom was still special, 33 years on from when he won the Derby with Generous: "Nothing has changed except me, I've got 80 more wrinkles!"

He added: "Yes of course, who wouldn't love that? What a treat, what a fantastic thing to happen. He's a very good horse – just we hadn't got the best out of him."

Marco Botti said of runner-up Royal Dubai: "I thought it was a great run, Oisin (Murphy) was delighted with him. The winner is obviously a good horse and Oisin just felt he got first run on him and we had quite a lot of ground to make up. He finished strongly, though, he handled the track and this is the ground he wants so we have to be pleased with that and there's plenty to look forward to. It's nice to see him back up what he did in Meydan. Last year his only bad run came on really soft ground and then we realised he wanted good to firm so in a way we were lucky the ground dried out today. He's a really nice horse and he's proven he is up to this level. I don't think there's anything at Ascot for him. The owner is keen to run in Group races so we'll look at options, maybe at Goodwood."

Sean Levey and Persica (purple/white, front centre) win the Hong Kong Jockey Club Lester Piggott Handicap on Betfred Derby Day at Epsom Downs Racecourse on Saturday, June 1 2024
Sean Levey and Persica (purple/white, front centre) win the Hong Kong Jockey Club Lester Piggott Handicap on Betfred Derby Day at Epsom Downs Racecourse on Saturday, June 1 2024 -Credit:Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Persica (9-2) landed a fine victory in the opener on Derby day, the Hong Kong Jockey Club Lester Piggott Handicap. The Richard Hannon-trained three-year-old, who had won twice as a juvenile and was fourth in a 1m2f handicap at Newbury on his most recent start, ran out a fine winner scoring by two-and-a-half lengths under Sean Levey. Persica led almost from start to finish and along with 5-2 favourite Portsmouth kicked clear a couple of furlongs out. After an initial battle between the duo, Persica asserted and moved ahead of his rival. Andrew Balding's Portsmouth, who had won over an extended mile here at Epsom in April, battled on under Oisin Murphy and was three lengths ahead of the third home, Redhot Whisper (28-1) who was a short-head in front of Blake (14-1).

Hannon will now send the New Bay colt to Royal Ascot later this month and step him up into Group company. He said: "I've always thought he was a very nice horse and he is clearly improving. He was unlucky at Newbury last time, but he did it well today. He's a little bit fragile mentally and I didn't think he would love it here today with the proximity to all the people. But he was able to do it his way in front and I'm very pleased. He will go to Royal Ascot, and what race now, I'm not sure. There's three options and we will see what the handicapper does, one option could be the Hampton Court. He might well have been flattered by the way he got to the front and controlled the race but nevertheless a winner on Derby day – it's not the Derby but it feels like a big one."

Winning jockey Levey added: "I was able to dictate things my own way, and when a horse picks up from the two to the one (furlong marker) like that you need a very good one to pick him up, and that's the way he felt to me going to the line. I was surprised when I felt the horse (Portsmouth) coming up my inside, but to be fair I thought the further he was going the better he was going to be going anyway."

On runner-up Portsmouth, jockey Murphy said: "Sean Levey rode a very good race. He had it easy in front, and when I was making ground Sean was still filling up."

Rossa Ryan and Blue Storm (left, green/black) win the Betfred 3YO 'Dash' Handicap on Betfred Derby Day at Epsom Downs Racecourse on Saturday, June 1 2024
Rossa Ryan and Blue Storm (left, green/black) win the Betfred 3YO 'Dash' Handicap on Betfred Derby Day at Epsom Downs Racecourse on Saturday, June 1 2024 -Credit:Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Blue Storm (8-1) burst through late to win the Betfred 3YO "Dash" Handicap to give trainer Gemma Tutty, who revealed she was making her first trip to Epsom, a first success at the track.

Under Rossa Ryan, the Blue Point colt came from behind to take over in front a further from home and scored by three-quarters-of-a length from Turlasson (7-1). Due For Luck (6-1) was the same distance back in third with Enchanting (20-1), a length further adrift in fourth under Hollie Doyle. There was a sad end to the five-furlong spring as Tears Of A Clown suffered a fatal injury.

Trainer Tutty said: "I can't complain with how this season is going, it's a big team effort and I've got some great owners. He was a very cheap buy, my partner Kings Bloodstock bought him for just 7,000 guineas because it said on his page he was a box walker, a crib biter and he was a rig! He's never box walked a day since we've got him home and while we can't change the fact he is a rig it doesn't stop him. He's been so settled at home, almost lazy and then when you see him at the track he gives us an easy time as he's so fast. The long-term plan has been the Palace of Holyrood House at Ascot, we thought we'd come here and run well on the way but to win is obviously fantastic. Rossa is keen on the plan."

Winning jockey Ryan added: "I knew they'd go flat out, which I thought would suit him, and I just needed to get him to do it the right way, as he can get himself a bit disorganised. I knew he had a turn of foot, as he showed it in the winter when I rode him at Southwell. He did exactly what it said on the tin. Oisin (on runner-up Sturlasson) went in and gave me chance to switch out and get one clean swoop. He did enough, and he still felt as if there was plenty there, so I know that going to Royal Ascot there should be plenty more to come. He's quite progressive, and he's a very genuine, honest sprinter who always runs consistently. He handled the track very well. Once I took him back from the gates he got into a rhythm and I was just gliding and waiting to pick up the pieces. I'd imagine that on a big open track like Ascot I'd be even more patient on him."

Oisin Murphy, who rode runner-up Sturlasson, said: “Great run. Rossa… we pulled well clear, and it was a career best.”

Trainer of Sturlasson Kieran Cotter added: “It was his first time in a handicap, and normally they’d say they need a run in a handicap because it is a different type of sprinting, but he did fantastically well. He won his maiden in Navan, and the thing we were happy with it that the first few furlongs there are a bit undulating and downhill, so he might have had a bit of experience there for this. We’re thrilled with him. So near, yet so far. But to come here on Derby Day… Oisin said the three-year-old handicap sprint at Royal Ascot is made for him – that’s where he said he’d do, so all things being well, we will. When he first ran in a maiden he was second to Bucanere Fuertw, who is favourite for the Commonwealth Cup, so we knew he was pretty useful.”

Dream Composer (6-1) came through to win the Aston Martin 'Dash' Handicap, under Joe Leavy, scoring by half-a-length from Democracy Dilemma (8-1). Looking For Lynda (17-2) was a length-and-a-quarter back in third with Antiphon (33-1) another three-quarters-of-a-length back in fourth.

Trained by James Evans, the six-year-old on of Dream Ahead scored well. Trainer Evans said: “We bought him very inexpensively from France three years ago - he’d run as a two-year-old there – and he’s won for us every year. He keeps stepping up, and obviously this is the icing on the cake, winning one like this. He’s won some good races at Grade One tracks; we just felt he was handicapped quite well today, and the cut in the ground helps him. He’s pretty good at going up and down dale, because he’s won at Goodwood and places like that. I got a phone call from these owners about four years ago and we had a few horses for them that we did ok with. They sent us to the sales and we bought a few; three of them have won 25 races between them. It just clicked; they are a great bunch, we’ve done well for them and long may it continue. We were going along as we found it; he’s got an entry in the Wokingham and if a penalty gets him into it and there’s cut in the ground, he likes Ascot and has run well there, so that’s a possible. But we’ll enjoy today and see where it takes us.”

WInning jockey Leavy added: “It’s amazing, honestly absolutely amazing. For it to be in the Dash as well – I don’t think there’s a race in England like it! It was fast, it was furious, but it really suited my lad. He’s a bit lazy early doors, but he stays very well. Once he had his daylight, he came home well. Coming into the half pole I thought I would take a lot of beating, I thought I had Rossa beaten. I know the horse as well, which is probably a help. Every time I ride him, we get better as a pair, so to come to Epsom and win a Dash is just huge.”

On making the weight (8st2lb) for ride, he said: “I thought he had a great chance, so I was very determined on doing it. I wouldn’t go lower, but it was doable for me. For it to all come off and for James and the team, it’s massive, it really is.”