Agencies/Ascot, United Kingdom
Two days after Galileo Gold, Qemah gave another prestigious win to Al Shaqab Racing by winning the Coronation Stakes (Gr1) at Royal Ascot yesterday.
HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani, president of Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC), attended the race and received the trophy from Prince Andrew, Duke of York.
Third in the recent Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (Gr1), Jean-Claude Rouget-trained filly was a little keen in the early stages. However, jockey Gregory Benoist managed to settle her and in the straight, the filly showed her class. She won decisively in front of it Nemoralia, who was unlucky in the closing stages, and Alice Springs.
“This is unbelievable — a second Group One winner — and she is a really brilliant filly,” Al Shaqab’s Racing manager Harry Herbert said. She was a little unlucky in the French Guineas when she ran too free, but today she’s settled better and I’m delighted for Sheikh Joaan and Gregory Benoist, having his first winner at Royal Ascot. He’s a star man to work with and I’m delighted for Jean-Claude, who is a brilliant trainer. It’s another special moment. How spoiling is this.”
Benoist was palpably ecstatic, having won for the first time at Royal Ascot. “It’s my first winner and first Group One in Royal Ascot. It’s amazing for me — it’s like a dream,” he said. “Before the race we wanted to take a good position. The pace was a little bit fast for me, so I took my time. Last time, before the French Guineas, she was a little bit too excited before the start. Today she was relaxed, like me, and we won!”
Trainer Rouget added: “I was very confident for this race after the French Guineas because I prefer her with a turn. She’s a top-class filly. She was very nervous in Deauville and I don’t think she ran the race she had to do. Today she ran the race and won easily.”
The win was Rouget’s second straight in Coronation Stakes, having won with Ervedya, who finished fifth yesterday, last year. “To me, to do the double in this race is a childhood dream. Today is done and I hope to get some more wins here as, for me, Ascot has the best racing in the world.”
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