Frankel wins, whip ban for Soumillon
ASCOT, England |
ASCOT, England (Reuters) - Racing's wonderhorse Frankel maintained his unbeaten record with a majestic victory Saturday in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Britain's richest ever race day.
After a week of headlines about new whip rules, French-based jockey Christophe Soumillon won the Champion Stakes, only to fall foul of the regulations by striking his horse one more time in the final furlong than is now permitted.
The error meant a five-day ban and also cost an incensed Soumillon 50,000 pounds ($79,000) as his share of the winning prize money.
Earlier, it had all been sweetness and light as Frankel, the world's top-rated thoroughbred, spreadeagled a top-class field to win his race by four lengths from Excelebration with the French challenger Immortal Verse a distant third.
It was the ninth victory in a row for Frankel who was given as big a cheer as his hugely popular trainer Henry Cecil when led into the Ascot winners' enclosure.
Cecil said: "He was so very relaxed. It has been a long year, that was my only worry. I am really looking forward to training him next year."
He had no doubt the champion miler could step up to a mile and a quarter in 2012: "I think he will be an even better horse next year."
Jockey Tom Queally said: "I always enjoy winners like this. It doesn't look like he is going to be beaten. I don't think I will be on a horse like this ever again."
Cirrus des Aigles, with Soumillon on board, was the surprise winner in record time of the Group One Champion Stakes at odds of 12-1.
The victory left veteran trainer Corinne Brande-Barbe breathless with excitement. "I am in paradise, " she said after Soumillon urged her charge to a thrilling victory over the Australian globetrotter So You Think.
But the stewards were less impressed, deciding that Soumillon had struck the horse six times in the final furlong, one more than the five allowed.
Soumillon told reporters: "I have never known anything like this in my life. It's amazing."
Earlier, Fame and Glory returned to the scene of his Ascot Gold Cup triumph to land the Long Distance Cup from his old rival Opinion Poll.
"He was electric today," said jockey Jamie Spencer who took the prize with a bold front-running display that paid rich dividends for the 3-1 second favourite. The Irish colt ran out winner by one and quarter lengths from the Godolphin challenger.
Deacon Blues and Johnny Murtagh scorched up the sun-baked Ascot track to land the Champions Sprint Stakes in spectacular fashion from Wizz Kid.
The 5-2 favourite has now won five of his last six starts. Within half an hour, Murtagh was back in the winners' enclosure after timing a masterly ride to perfection aboard Dancing Rain in the Fillies' and Mares' Stakes.
(Editing by Dave Thompson and Robert Woodward)
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