Royal Ascot 2024: Isle Of Jura lands shock win in the Hardwicke Stakes

Isle Of Jura, ridden by Callum Shepherd, on the way to winning the Hardwicke Stakes on day five of Royal Ascot 2024 at Ascot Racecourse on Saturday, June 22 2024
-Credit: (Image: John Walton/PA)

Isle Of Jura (16-1) grabbed a shock victory in the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes on the final day of Royal Ascot 2024.

Isle Of Jura's rise had been something of a fairytale and he provided trainer George Scott and jockey Callum Shepherd with a first Royal Ascot win in the Hardwicke Stakes. Scott's four-year-old gelded son of New Approach only had a rating of 71 when he won a mile handicap at Newbury last July. But he was a grabbing a third success in Britain since then – and by far his biggest. Following a hat-trick of victories in Bahrain, where his owners Victorious Racing hail from, the four-year-old won the Listed Festival Stakes at Goodwood last month on his return to Britain. He was sent off a relatively unfancied 16-1 but he shone bright ahead of the likes of Aidan O'Brien's 2023 St Leger hero and 13-8 favourite Continuous.

Under jockey Shepherd, who had lost the ride on Derby runner-up Ambiente Friendly at the start of the month, Isle Of Jura was produced to challenge after the turn for home. And he swooped into the lead and went on to score by three-and-three-quarters-of-a-length ahead of French raider Goliath (18-1), with Middle Earth (9-4) a further three-quarters-of-a-length back in third. Favourite Continuous, on his first run since finishing fifth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp in October looked sort on fitness and could only finish fifth.

But it was all about Isle Of Jura and trainer Scott said: "He's an exceptional racehorse and it was an exceptional race from start to finish. He was the right horse at the right time (in his career). It's amazing. Just over a year ago he was well beaten in a Thirsk maiden. To do this for Sheikh Nasser (Victorious Racing), such a big supporter of mine, is very special. We are just blessed to have him, he's repaid us time and time again and the journey from hereon in is going to be very very special. Most best-laid plans go to pot, but this has been a long-term plan. This was an obvious race for him. We knew Goodwood would bring him on, and it has. We knew he would get the ground, and he has. It was a scintillating performance, so we shall enjoy it. Callum is a top-class rider he had his horse in the right position all the way, kicked nice and early and put the race to bed. It was a perfect ride. All roads lead to the King George, 100 per cent."

An emotional jockey Sheppard said: "I'm really struggling to compose myself. He's such a special horse for George and the team. Make no mistake, he never lets us down. Obviously the last six weeks have been very difficult, but that just feels very special.

“Isle Of Jura has been amazing. We took him over for that handicap series in Bahrain initially, and obviously you hope he’s going to be better than that, but at that stage we had no idea. He just kept improving; he’s never let us down and has got better with every start. He has become very straightforward, and he has a real desire to win as well. He was rusty at Goodwood, but you still saw that innate desire to pass the post in front, which is so important. It’s so wonderful for his owner, Sheikh Nasser; it was lovely he went over there so they could enjoy him on home soil, so to speak, and he’s come back and continued to climb.

“Isle Of Jura was so good today – he loves quick ground and stays a mile and a half very well. Six weeks ago I thought I’d found my diamond [Ambiente Friendly] and that wasn’t to be, but Isle Of Jura has certainly blossomed into one. We had a great winter and I’d ridden plenty of winners, and it was all going pretty smoothly, but that's sport – it won’t all go your way for long, and I’m so fortunate to have this horse to continue to bring me to the big occasions. Hopefully, we haven’t made too many mistakes yet and hopefully it will stay that way.

“He has not stopped improving so far with every start, so hopefully he can continue that way. If you look at him as a physical specimen, you would hope the best is yet to come. He is actually a very lazy work horse at home – he’d go by a 70 horse and that’s pretty much all he’d push himself to achieve. But George and his team have done such a good job - they’ve got it absolutely to a T.”

French trainer Francis-Henri Graffard, who had won the King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot on Friday with Calandagan, was delighted with his runner-up Goliath. He said: "We came here because we wanted to avoid the French style of racing, with no pace, and unfortunately today they decided to do a little bit of the same. My horse was a bit too keen through the race; he's difficult to manage, but not too bad today.

"I walked the course and there was a good cover of grass and I thought it was safe ground for him, but he's probably better with a bit of cut. He has to settle in his races to be able to stay and to produce a good turn of foot, but we are very pleased with the run - he's a very nice horse and we beat some very nice horses, too. He's entered in the King George, but we'll see what the weather forecast is. I don't know – it's a long journey and a tough race, but why not?"

Bedtime Story, ridden by Ryan Moore, wins the Chesham Stakes in fine style on day five of Royal Ascot 2025 at Ascot Racecourse on Saturday, June 22 2024
Bedtime Story, ridden by Ryan Moore, wins the Chesham Stakes in fine style on day five of Royal Ascot 2025 at Ascot Racecourse on Saturday, June 22 2024 -Credit:PA

It has been another spectaculer week at Royal Ascot for Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien and his Bedtime Story (11-8 favourite) was arguably the most impressive winner of the week as she blitzed her rivals in the Listed Chesham Stakes. The daughter of Frankel had won on her debut in good style, landing an extended seven-furlong maiden from Giselle, who was sent off favourite. But it was Bedtime Story who sent off the well-backed favourite and there never looked a moment when she wouldn't win. She was travelling supremely well, under Ryan Moore, just off the pace set by Motawahij. But she moved through stylishly to lead after halfway in the seven-furlong contest. And she comfortably moved well clear of her rivals to score by an astonishing nine-and-a-half lengths from Pentle Bay (5-1) with Brian (28-1) half-a-length back in third.

It was a record-extending seventh win in the Chesham for the Ballydoyle maestro O'Brien with the likes of another filly Maybe (2011) and Churchill (2016) winning at Group One level, with the latter going on to Classic glory the following year. And Bedtime Story is now a best-priced 7-2 favourite with most bookmakers for next year's QIPCO 1,000 Guineas now ahead of 5-1 chance and stable-mate Fairy Godmother, who also won at Royal Ascot in Friday's Albany Stakes.

Bedtime Story was the first of Frankel's offspring to win the Chesham and the victory was almost like her sire's blistering wide-margin performances.

O'Brien, who was winning a sixth winner of the week in Berkshire and a 91st at Royal Ascot, said: "We never let her go before, it's the first time we've asked her to stretch and she just took off. We've treated her gently, she has unbelievable pedigree and she's obviously very special. It's unusual for a filly to do that, she'd won nicely first time but we thought she was a Group One filly. You all saw what I saw, we won't be looking for one that's better, that is for sure."

Moore, who was also winning for a sixth time at the Royal meeting and an 85th overall, added: "The only I time worked was pulling up really. She travelled very easy, they've gone too slow for her really. I had room at the three so we started going forward and the race was over very quickly. Obviously, she's a level above all of them."

When asked to compare Bedtime Story with stable-mate and Albany Stakes winner Fairy Godmother, he added: "It's a hard one. They haven't really been asked to do too much at home. We don't know a whole about them, we don't know what they've beaten yet, but they are two very exciting fillies. A performance like that, you don't see normally."

Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, two of the Coolmore triumvirate along with John Magnier, were very impressed by the winner Smith said: "I asked Ryan if she was as good as she looked and he said 'absolutely'. You can't get better than that. They don't win like that here. I'm speechless really."

Tabor added: "We expected her to win, but you never expect an animal to win the way she did. Unfortunately for Godolphin (Age Of Gold), the second in, which we thought was the obvious danger, was never going well. So I thought, in-running, that we would win. To win by nine or 10 lengths is incredible, though. Her and Fairy Godmother were both spectacular."