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Librisa Breeze seeks more glory at Ascot

22 Jun 2018

Robert Winston hoping grey can again rise to challenge in Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Librisa Breeze and his connections after winning on QIPCO British Champions Day. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Robert Winston is hoping Librisa Breeze, the horse he says who has “prolonged my career”, can come out on top in a tremendous international renewal of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday.

The £600,000 contest is the showpiece on the final day of the Royal Meeting and forms part of the 35-race QIPCO British Champions Series. A stellar field of 12 features challengers from Britain, Ireland, France, America and Australia and five of those who go to post – Harry Angel, Redkirk Warrior, Merchant Navy and The Tin Man – have already won at least one Group 1 race.

Librisa Breeze was one of the star turns on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot in October when Winston produced him with a typically late flourish to win the Group 1 QIPCO British Champions Sprint by a length and a quarter from Tasleet, with the supporting cast including Harry Angel (fourth) and The Tin Man (fifth).

It was the grey’s third significant success at Ascot but a lot of the attention afterwards was on the performance of Harry Angel, sent off 5-4 favourite after his previous triumphs in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket and 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock.

“Breeze has never really got the credit he deserves,” Winston said. “It will be a great race and there looks certain to be plenty of pace, which is what he wants. He needs things to drop right in his races but he thrives at Ascot and let’s see what he can bring to the table.

“I’d sort of fallen out of love with the game until I came across him. I’m back enjoying the sport and riding out plenty. He’s prolonged my career and I’m looking forward to riding him again on Saturday.”

Librisa Breeze, who is owned by Tony Bloom, chairman of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, acts well on easy ground but conditions were on the quick side when he kept on well from off the pace to finish fourth to The Tin Man in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes 12 months ago.

“To get the best out of the horse that’s the way you have to ride him (held up for a late run) and it can be frustrating,” Winston said. “When horses get beaten you are open to criticism for the rides you give them but it paid off the day he won the QIPCO British Champions Sprint. Everyone knows that’s the way Breeze gets ridden and he will continue to be ridden that day.

“It was good to firm last year but there was no jar and he stayed on to be fourth after not getting a clear run. After that run a couple of times things just did not drop right for him, i.e with the pace and draw.”

Winston says Librisa Breeze’s below-par reappearance run in the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan in March should be forgiven. “You think going over there that you’ve ticked all the boxes and it is only afterwards you realise that possibly they weren’t. He struggled a bit with the heat conditions but has had plenty of time since to get over the trip.”

Harry Angel gave weight and a beating to four rivals on his return in the Duke Of York Stakes and Clive Cox, his trainer, believes the fact he has yet to win at Ascot after four attempts is merely “coincidental”. He is unbeaten in five starts away from the Berkshire venue.

The Tin Man also made a successful reappearance, when winning a Listed contest at Windsor last month at the main expense of D’bai (second and subsequent winner of the Group 3 Betway John Of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock) Projection (third).  In addition to winning the Diamond Jubilee Stakes last year, James Fanshawe’s six-year-old gelding also won the QIPCO British Champions Sprint in 2016.

Redkirk Warrior also boasts winning form at Ascot, landing a 1m2f handicap there in the summer of 2014 when trained by William Haggas. He was subsequently sold to race in Hong Kong, where he was all but retired with foot issues, and then shipped to Australia – where he has established himself as a top-class sprinter for David Hayes.

He won the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning at Flemington in March and had Merchant Navy, who was in receipt of 12lb, back in third when landing the Group 1 Lexington Newmarket Handicap at the same track last time. Choisir (2002) and Black Caviar (2012) have been previous Australian-trained winners of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

Merchant Navy has since been transferred to champion trainer Aidan O’Brien, from Aaron Purcell, and looked in fine fettle when landing the Group 2 Weatherbys Ireland Greenland Stakes over 6f at the Curragh last month after his stablemates, Intelligence Cross and Spirit Of Valour, had set a strong pace.

Bound for Nowhere, trained by Wesley Ward and fourth in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot last year, will fly the flag for America. Ward won the 2015 renewal with Undrafted. Meanwhile, France will be represented by City Light, winner of all three of his starts this year.

The line-up is completed by Sir Dancealot, narrow winner of a minor event at Hamilton on his latest start.