Ghanaati's triumph is ideal tonic

Filly claims emotional win in Coronation Stakes with trainer Barry Hills in hospital

No matter what the experts make of the crop, you can only judge a vintage when you come to sample the wine. At the start of the week, diehards were still hankering for the old Ascot; and the horses themselves threatened a fairly humdrum meeting. But while a depressed economy was duly reflected in attendances, and betting turnover, this has unmistakably become the year the 2006 redevelopment came of age.

Events yesterday introduced a new, sentimental dimension to a meeting already guaranteed a place in Turf folklore by the ground-breaking achievements of Yeats, Scenic Blast, Canford Cliffs and Wesley Ward. First a sunbeam from the last century illuminated the fading pomp of Henry Cecil, whose 71st success here – ending a seven-year itch – just happened to be called Father Time. And then another cherished survivor, Barry Hills, was saluted after Ghanaati suggested herself perhaps the best filly he has trained with a sumptuous performance in the Coronation Stakes.

Both men have had grave health problems over the past year or two, but this was a day when they could aptly be toasted in the finest of old wines. Hills, indeed, was on his way from hospital (where he had been treated for blood poisoning) even as Ghanaati delivered the most invigorating of tonics. In his absence, the 1,000 Guineas winner had been entrusted to two of his sons – Charlie as assistant trainer, Richard as jockey – and as she burst clear of the field, so she released billows of emotion.

"This means more to me than any race I've ever won," said her rider tearfully. "I nearly lost my dad. Thank God I didn't. I'm very proud, and admit I've worn my heart on my sleeve. Dad helped me this morning [on the phone] when he said: 'Keep her safe and she'll do the rest.' I kept that in the back of my mind."

The old patriarch's confidence was not misplaced. Though the field included other Classic winners in Elusive Wave, from France, and Again, from Ireland, Ghanaati hurtled clear two furlongs out. While Reggane and then Rainbow View closed late, Ghanaati was never menaced in crossing the line two lengths clear – in the process trimming the record for the round mile set by Henrythenavigator last year.

"There are two women in my life – my wife, and this filly," Richard said. "She's aptly named because in Arabic, Ghanaati means 'My Love'. She's the best filly I've ridden, without a doubt, and she's definitely improved. Charlie prepared her beautifully." This had clearly been quite a rite of passage for that young man. "It's been lovely to look after so many fine horses, but it's been a long five weeks," Charlie admitted. "Dad had started getting on the phone a bit more lately, so we knew he was improving. He had radiotherapy last year, and still thinks he's 30. I doubt very much whether he has ever had a filly as good as her, even after 40 years. She's so professional, a beautiful stamp of a filly. She's still relatively inexperienced – that was only her fourth run – so hopefully she has the right attitude to improve again."

Almost uniquely nowadays, for the Maktoum family, Ghanaati was bred by Sheikh Hamdan from a Coolmore stallion, Giant's Causeway. But the dam represents one of his finest families – also containing Nashwan, Nayef and Unfuwain – and Ghanaati herself will doubtless be contributing to Shadwell pedigrees some day.

Likewise Habaayib, who won the Albany Stakes for Ed Dunlop. This had been billed as a showdown between Aegean – ranked best of the Ward juveniles – and Lillie Langtry. But the American filly did not take to the turf, while the heavily backed Ballydoyle hope could not quite get there in the middle of the track. Meantime Habaayib had shown terrific acceleration along the favoured stands rail, earning a Stan James 1,000 Guineas quote of 16-1 from the sponsors. But she may not stretch her speed over a mile, and Lillie Langtry could yet remain the better prospect at 12-1.

Chachamaidee ran on nicely for Cecil in third, a prelude to the success of Father Time in the King Edward VII Stakes. The colt returned to a fervent public reception, and his trainer drawled words of self-deprecation just like old times. "That was lovely," Cecil said. "It gives you a tingling feeling. The public has always been very good to me, and perhaps I've fallen in love with them as well."

Father Time may now be prepared for the Ladbrokes St Leger. His trainer meanwhile remains without peer here, his lifetime record placed in perspective by the fact another winner for Hills, Giganticus, took his own score to "just" 23. But Cecil might have been speaking for both of them as he looked forward to a break in Florence, before more chemotherapy. "Healthwise, I'm not tip-top," he said. "But I'm still alive, aren't I?"

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on