Racing: Shamardal's brilliance lights up the Palace

It was almost a bad moment for the transplanted Royal meeting here on the Knavesmire yesterday. The weather was gloomy throughout proceedings, the pared-down audience strangely subdued for such an occasion. It was rather dull all around.

It was almost a bad moment for the transplanted Royal meeting here on the Knavesmire yesterday. The weather was gloomy throughout proceedings, the pared-down audience strangely subdued for such an occasion. It was rather dull all around.

Yet even dark skies can produce a rainbow and, when a fair steed was needed, it was Shamardal who rode to the rescue, spiriting away the St James's Palace Stakes in brilliant fashion. It was a victory for the present and the future, a third consecutive Group One success for the Godolphin colt as well as a win which set up the delicious prospect of a collision with Motivator in the Eclipse Stakes. It was also a tonic for the up-market troops on the other side of the rails.

The Royal afternoon opened inauspiciously under dirty clouds, the crowd never managing to fill the sweep of the Knavesmire convincingly. The attendance was 36,000, around 24 per cent fewer that the corresponding day in Berkshire 12 months ago. For organisers expecting around 55,000 this must have been a sorry statistic. Yet most of the tickets had been sold and the main victims appeared to be the victims of greed, those who bought in block and found their purchase hard to pass on. It was not easy to weep for the touts who were selling for less than face value.

However, those who did make it inside were delivered a relatively exclusive treat. Shamardal, as he had managed in both the French 2,000 Guineas and Derby, was able to dominate from start to finish, to suggest further he is going to become a difficult horse to pass this season even if he goes on to Sandown and a meeting with the Epsom Derby winner.

A slight depression of the accelerator three furlongs out was all it required from Kerrin McEvoy and it was no longer a contest. It was a second, and also in its own way regal, procession of the day. Three lengths was the winning distance.

The young jockey even allowed himself the narcissistic pleasure of reference to the huge screen at the side of the course in the closing stages. "I just wanted to see how far clear I was," McEvoy said. "I knew I didn't have to pick my whip up. That's how well he accelerated. I didn't expect to win like that, to be so far clear two furlongs out.

They had been tactics of an elementary nature, tactics discussed between McEvoy and Frankie Dettori, Godolphin's No1 jockey currently suspended. "He just told me not to make it complicated," McEvoy said. It was a first Royal Ascot winner for the man from Streaky Bay, an Australian fishing hamlet six hours west of Adelaide.

Shamardal remains unbeaten on turf, but will put that record to the ultimate test when they heap on the coal once again two weeks on Saturday. "Now we must go for the Eclipse against Motivator," Sheikh Mohammed said. "Motivator is a great horse at a mile and a half, but, at a mile and a quarter, I think Shamardal might beat him. It will be good for people to see."

The Queen Anne Stakes provided another debut success for a young jockey at a Royal meeting, when Christophe Soumillon, who has just turned 24, partnered André Fabre's Valixir to victory. But this was not the story of a race won, rather than one surrendered by the short-priced favourite, Rakti.

Michael Jarvis's beast was quickly in trouble. The six-year-old missed the parade and almost missed the racecourse as he came careering out of the paddock, perhaps unnerved by a first visit to the Knavesmire.

Philip Robinson, the jockey, claimed that a racegoer leaning over the rails clicking had had a detrimental effect on his mount, but the reality was that this was one of Rakti's madness days.

The beastly horse missed the beat when the gates opened, but was soon pounding away on the lead. By the straight though the dreaful momentum that had carried him away from a Lockinge field last time was already beginning to dissipate.

Very quickly, Rakti became a burned-out husk. He had used up all his energy, most of it before the contest had even started. That allowed Valixir to nip through briskly. In the euphoria of triumph, Soumillon threw his whip away. You do not get many Yorkshire jockeys doing that.

"I wanted to follow Rakti more and was waiting, waiting and waiting," the Belgian-born rider said. "When I wanted to take a breath he wanted to go on so I came too early. I had two or three bumps from the horse on my outside when turning for home which upset his balance a bit, but really it was a perfect race.

"Before the race I didn't think about winning because I knew that Rakti was an unbelievable horse. That's why I was so excited after passing the post and threw my whip into the crowd. I'm happy to see the French horses do so well today, as it means our horses in France are good."

Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
Tattoo enthusiast Cammy Stewart poses for a portrait during the Great British Tattoo Show
In picturesThe Great British Tattoo Show
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?