Stratum strikes again for Mullins in finale
A year after running away with the Queen Alexandra Stakes, Stratum (10/1) repeated the trick with a gritty performance in the marathon contest over an extended two miles and five furlongs.
Held up towards the rear by William Buick, the Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old finished best of all to lead close home in the colours of Tony Bloom.
Last year’s Ascot Handicap scorer Reshoun (20/1) battled away in second, going down by a length at the line, a head in front of Calling The Wind (13/2) in a thrilling finish to the final race of the week.
Willie Mullins said: “It was a terrific ride. I was watching thinking ‘this is good – aim for sixth place where there is prize money and work your way up’.
“Will just needed to wait and wait as long as he could. He put Stratum in a nice pocket and stayed there until the turn for home. He then weaved his way through and Stratum loves to be ridden like that.
“His last bit of work was not as good as I anticipated, but when we were saddling him, we thought ‘he has turned himself inside out in the last week’. He just got a magic ride from a man riding at the top of his game.
“This will probably put Stratum’s novice chase career on hold! We will keep to staying races with him. This was the plan and we will worry about the next plan later.”
Buick said: “Stratum won the race last year, and Willie said to me before the race, ‘pick one horse off at a time, fill him with confidence and he’ll finish well’. Once I switched him inside and got the run, the others were probably stopping a little bit, and he really motored home. Obviously, he’s a good, tough horse and stays this trip. He loves this race – it’s an extreme distance and he’s proven over it.
“It’s been a good week – five winners, I am very pleased with that. It’s not easy when you come here. It is very tough and not all the races work out how you want them to, but I think most of them worked out OK. All in all, a good week, and you’ve got to come away happy.”
Bloom said: “We are delighted. What an amazing horse Stratum is. We didn’t expect that today with the extra weight [penalty]. He won this last year and this was a much tougher race. Trueshan pulled out with no rain, and we would have liked softer ground, so we wanted that rain in the last hour. The horse was magnificent.
“We were always quite comfortable. We didn’t want him in front too early and he was well covered up. It was always close, what a ride and what a trainer Willie Mullins. Today is all about Stratum.”
6.10pm Queen Alexandra Stakes
1 Stratum (Tony Bloom) Willie Mullins IRE 9-9-07 William Buick 10/1
2 Reshoun (Dr Marwan Koukash) Ian Williams 8-9-04 Richard Kingscote 20/1
3 Calling The Wind (Ms J Wakefield)
12 ran 7/4 Wordsworth (7th)
Willie Mullins – 8th Royal Ascot winner
William Buick – 33rd Royal Ascot winner