June 21, 2008 / 4:14 PM / 12 years ago

The Queen lands 20th Royal Ascot win

LONDON (Reuters) - The Queen had a winner on the final day of Royal Ascot on Saturday when 7-2 joint favourite Free Agent came from last to first to capture the Chesham Stakes.

The Queen and Prince Philip arrive for Ladies Day on the third day of the Royal Ascot on June 21, 2007. REUTERS/Toby Melville

It was her first winner at the meeting since 1999, her 20th in all, but her first two-year-old to succeed here since 1957.

Winning jockey Richard Hughes told BBC television: “She was very gracious. To ride winners here is great but to ride one for the Queen is special.”

Her bloodstock adviser John Warren said: “The Queen was absolutely thrilled and after they passed the post she said ‘I’ve done it,’ which was great.”

The delighted monarch greeted her winner in the unsaddling enclosure and then received the race trophy from former leading jump race jockey Richard Dunwoody.

Free Agent, winner of his only other race to date, impressed bookmakers enough to earn a quote of 33-1 for next year’s Epsom Derby, a race the 82-year-old queen has never won.

The Golden Jubilee Stakes, the last Group One event of the meeting, went to 33-1 outsider Kingsgate Native, ridden by Seb Sanders for trainer John Best who had a 100-1 winner on day one.

Sanders said: “He knuckled down and picked up really well and gave me a terrific ride throughout.”

Best added: “I thought 33-1 was a crazy price for a horse that won the Nunthorpe Stakes (a major sprint race) last year and he shouldn’t have been anywhere near that price.”

Kingsgate Native’s victims in a truly international field included Takeover Target from Australia (fourth), Ireland’s Us Ranger (fifth), French raider Marchand d’Or (sixth) and New Zealand’s Seachange (12th).

Ireland’s Aidan O’Brien wound up as champion trainer at the meeting with six winners in all after 11-8 favourite Macarthur won the Hardwicke Stakes and 7-4 favourite Honolulu captured the closing Queen Alexandra Stakes.

Stable jockey Johnny Murtagh rode all six of the O’Brien horses during the five days to secure the top-rider title. Standouts for the two men included Yeats who won Thursday’s Ascot Gold Cup for the third year in succession.

Writing by Dave Thompson; Editing by John Mehaffey

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