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Sweet success for Candy as Twilight Son prevails

19 Jun 2016

Trainer reveals star sprinter had an usual workout before landing Diamond Jubilee Stakes

Sprint Cup hopeful TWILIGHT SON

Here’s looking at you: Rivals glance towards Twilight Son as he edges home in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Twilight Son overcame an unorthodox preparation to win a gripping renewal of The Diamond Jubilee Stakes on the final day of Royal Ascot.

Trainer Henry Candy revealed that the four-year-old and his galloping companion, La Rioja, had both got loose in their final serious pieces of work before running in their respective QIPCO British Champions Series races at the meeting.

“I took him to Newbury recently to do a piece of work with him and he decided that he wanted to do two bits of work,” Candy said. “He got rid of his work-rider and did a piece of work himself and then we did what we’d come there to do.

“La Rioja [fourth in the Commonwealth Cup on Friday] got rid of her rider, too, and they a nice spin round loose. It wasn’t funny at the time. I could do without mornings like that.”

Saturday’s nine-runner contest featured quality sprinters from four different countries and looked a real head-scratcher beforehand. Identifying the winner was no easier 20 yards from the line as five runners thundered towards the finish almost as one.

At the line, less than half a length covered the quintet in what must be one of the closest bunch finishes to any Group One race. Twilight Son, ridden  by Ryan Moore, prevailed by a neck from Hong Kong raider Gold-Fun, with French challenger Signs Of Blessing a short head further back in third.

Magical Memory, the favourite, who looked the most likely winner half a  furlong out as he came through from off the pace, was a head further back in fourth. Suedois was just another short head behind him in fifth.

On the betting exchanges, all five traded at 2-1 or shorter.

Remarkably, Candy was enjoying only his third Royal Ascot winner – and his first since Pipedreamer won the Royal Hunt Cup in 1979.

“Being me, I’ve never come here thinking we’ll ever have a winner,” Candy, a renowned pessimist, said. “We’ve been close a good few times in the past and it’s nice to get the job done finally – we’ve had to wait for it.”

Moore said: “I always felt that, when I was going to ask him, he was going to win. He travelled very strongly and, when I rode him here last year, he felt like a very good horse. It has obviously taken a while for him to come to hand but I felt Mr Candy (trainer Henry) was very confident.

“This horse has done very little wrong – he has only been beaten a couple of times. He has proven himself as a high-class colt. The pace wasn’t strong enough for him and it would have been better if they had gone quicker.”

Hong Kong-based trainer Richard Gibson offered no excuses for Gold-Fun, saying: “In these Group Ones I never like making excuses and Royal Ascot is the top level and we missed it by a whisker, which is disappointing.

“He’s a fantastic horse and he’s done us all proud today. We have come a long way and, from a professional point of view, you are always pleased when your horse runs to his rating. It was tight and all credit to the winner  – we have got no excuses today.”