The Ridler provides Fahey and Hanagan with a second Norfolk success
Richard Fahey landed his second successive Norfolk Stakes as The Ridler caused a 50/1 shock in the opening G2 sprint on day three of Royal Ascot.
Twelve months after Perfect Power landed the five-furlong contest at odds of 14/1, Fahey and rider Paul Hanagan repeated the trick with an even bigger-priced colt.
The Ridler swept to the front in the final furlong having been drawn on the wing but caused significant interference as he veered left across rivals. His supporters needed to survive a stewards’ enquiry before the result was confirmed.
The speedy Brazen Beau colt came home a length-and-three-quarters clear of 7/4 favourite Walbank, who had every chance in second, with Crispy Cat (7/1) a neck further back in third.
Hanagan said immediately after the race: “The Ridler pricked his ears in front and I always felt he was clear. I don’t think they had to stop riding, so I think it will be fine.
“He is still very green and a baby. I put my stick down to get him straight, so I could not have done much more.
“There’s a lot of emotions going through me at the minute. I’m delighted to ride this winner for Richard Fahey and the owners – I’m going to enjoy the moment.”
Fahey said: “That was a bit of a surprise – I know we were mad about the second horse in the breeze-up, but he made a little bit too much than we wanted [to pay].
“I didn’t think The Ridler was a 40/1 shot. He’s a good hardy horse. We had him in the Coventry, and had a long chat about it all, then decided to go here. You need a good six-furlong horse to win, especially the pace they went, so we’re delighted. It was a good performance.
“Paul is happy, I’m happy. We haven’t really had a change around of jockeys, it was just bringing a young guy [Oisin Orr] in, and Paul would still ride for us, and has ridden for us today. You’ve got to look to the future, though.
“We will get Ascot out of the way before we think about the future, but we’d think about a flat six furlongs. He’s quite a quick horse; you’d like to think of something like the Prix Morny, because if you’ve got a Group 2, you’ve got to think of a Group 1.
“Coming here today, I thought if we were placed, I’d be delighted – I was very worried about the second horse. It’s a tough race to win and it’s nice to win it two years in a row.”
Winning owner Steve Bradley said: “It’s two [Norfolk Stakes] on the trot for Richard. 50/1 and we bred him. We use the National Stud to breed most of our horses, along with Deauville and in Ireland. It is fantastic.
“I have been involved heavily in the last 10 years in racing. It’s amazing. This is the best day of my life along with getting married and having children.”
Of the horse’s name, he explained: “The Ridler has got a reverse question mark on his face, and The Riddler on every outfit has loads of question marks, including in reverse. As soon as he was born, it was a no-brainer. Weatherbys didn’t like it with two ‘d’s so we settled for one, and the rest is history. My son Leigh is a Batman fan more than me, but it’s been around for a long time, more than 60 years.
“Weatherbys were worried about the copyright – they didn’t want to take on whoever owns Marvel Comics these days and they got a sweat on about that. I think Marvel Comics have got more money than I have!”
David Loughnane, who also trained the runner-up in last year’s race, said of Walbank: “Deja vu! The horse has done very well. He has run his race and I don’t think he could have done anything different. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t heartbroken, but that’s racing. We were out in front and he has probably got a little bit lonely. The winner has come down the outside and a long way across the track.”
Crispy Cat’s trainer Michael O’Callaghan said: “He should have won. It is plain and simple. Silvestre [de Sousa] said he would have won. He never had a clear run through the race, even from the middle way through the race, and then he got wiped out by the winner when he was coming through. It wasn’t the first time he had to check, and he has run on again, so he should have won, unfortunately.”
Silvestre de Sousa added: “We got a wipe out from the winner. It made the difference. We would have won.”
Brave Nation’s rider James Doyle said: “He ran with a lot of credit – he would have been third without the interference.”
2.30pm Norfolk Stakes (Group 2)
1 The Ridler (Steve Bradley) Richard Fahey 2-9-03 Paul Hanagan 50/1
2 Walbank (Amo Racing Limited) David Loughnane 2-9-03 Rossa Ryan 7/4F
3 Crispy Cat (Amo Racing Limited) Michael O’Callaghan IRE 2-9-03 Silvestre de Sousa 7/1
Richard Fahey – 9 h Royal Ascot winner
Paul Hanagan – 6th Royal Ascot winner