Royal Ascot 2022

Rising Star springs 40/1 shock in Kensington Palace Handicap for 'iron man' Callan

Nine years after his last Royal Ascot winner, Neil Callan lifted Rising Star to glory in the concluding Kensington Palace Handicap.

Callan, nicknamed ‘the iron man’, got a great tune out of the 40/1 outsider, who was tucked away in midfield before a split came entering the final two furlongs. The Marco Botti-trained filly picked up well to hold off fellow 40/1 chance Random Harvest by a neck. Isola Rossa (22/1) filled third spot, a length and a quarter further in arrears, with State Occasion (8/1) fourth.

It was a fifth Royal Ascot winner in all for Callan, who rode his first winner at the meeting way back in 2006, while it was a second Royal Ascot success for Botti.

Callan said: “It is only a handicap, but Royal Ascot is beyond anything else in the universe. It’s hard to explain. This week of racing, no matter what race it is, is championship racing, and Rising Star was good today.

“She has always been consistent and on a couple of runs this year, she has just had things go against her. If you let her find her own position, she will relax and give it to you. However, if you have to pull her about or she is too keen, then it just goes against her. On her day like today, she is more than capable.

“I’ve been away for a long time in Hong Kong for 10 years. I was top five and rode two Group 1 winners the season I left. Coming back from a long time away, you don’t just waltz back in, not unless you’re Frankie Dettori, anyway! You’ve got to go through your contacts and get your opportunities at the right time.

“Fair play to Marco, he approached me – I kind of teamed up with him at the end of last season when I came home, and he approached me in the spring and said, will you ride for me? I said, of course, and he said, I can’t really afford you, your retainer. I said, let’s go with the flow and see what happens.

“We had a bit of a patchy start to the season – the horses weren’t running right and this and that, but you take the rough with the smooth. It is what it is, but the last two months, they have really started turning a corner; the horses are looking well and they are running well. To come here for Royal Ascot capitalises it and puts us back up there.

“It’s funny, because we were drawn 17 in this race, and Marco said, what do we do? I said, just go with the flow. You can’t really give instructions in a race like this. That’s the great thing with Marco, we chat about horses and then there’s no, stick down, we have to do this or have to do that. In races other things can happen. But everything went swimmingly for the filly today.”

Botti said: “Obviously, she was a big price, but we knew she had the ground. When I saw she was drawn a little bit wide, it was a big task to overcome it, but Neil gave her a brilliant ride. I am delighted for the owners – it’s a syndicate of 10 people, and everyone is delighted.”

6.10pm Kensington Palace Handicap

1 Rising Star (Mamba Racing & Partner) Marco Botti 4-9-07 Neil Callan 40/1

2 Random Harvest (Lady Bamford) Ed Walker 4-8-06 Saffie Osborne (3) 40/1

3 Isola Rossa (Jan & Peter Hopper & Michelle Morris) Hayley Turner 22/1

4 State Occasion (The Eclipse Partnership) Ralph Beckett 4-9-00 Rossa Ryan 8/1

20 ran             7/2 fav Haziya (20th)

Marco Botti – 2nd Royal Ascot winner

Neil Callan – 5th Royal Ascot winner