Grandera and rider Frankie Dettori upset champion Banks Hill and ran away with a five-length win in Wednesday's group I Prince of Wales's Stakes at Ascot. The winner is trained by Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin and in his last outing, won the May 11 Singapore Airlines International Cup (Sin-I) by two lengths. The win gave Suroor his third straight victory in the Prince of Wales's.
Grandera went off at 4-1, as compared to Banks Hill at 7-2. The winner was near the middle of the 12-horse field in the early going, and didn't take the lead until the runners approached the final furlong. When he did, he accelerated and moved clear.
Second-place finisher Indian Creek was last in the early going and also put in a strong late drive for the place. Banks Hill, a 4-year-old filly, was within striking distance throughout the 10-furlong test, but according to the chart, "kept on at one pace," and couldn't finish better than third. She was ridden by Olivier Peslier.
"We have found the key with this horse. He wants fast ground, a strong pace and a mile and a quarter," said a delighted Dettori after Grandera's impressive success in the Prince of Wales's Stakes.
"We put a pacemaker in there just to make sure it was a decent pace. I bided my time because I know Grandera has a good turn of foot. He idles a bit in front but the race was over by then. He is very tricky - he sweats and likes to have a kick and is a bit of a playboy really. But his ability is spot on."
Simon Crisford of Godolphin was hugely impressed. "We were almost worried when we saw Frankie taking a pull two furlongs out, but he could not have won better than he did," he said. "At one time we were thinking of running Noverre in this race, but he has not been training that well and last week we decided that Grandera was to be our runner."
Grandera began his racing career in England for Lael Stable and Mrs. V. Shelton. He was purchased by Godolphin after a second-place finish in the group I Juddmonte International and after winning the Dubai Arc Trial at Newbury. Grandera made his first start for Godolphin in this year's Dubai City of Gold (UAE-III) in February.
"When we first bought him we thought he would be the ideal horse to race all over the world for us, in Singapore and in races like the Japan Cup, as he loves the fast ground, and he has done really well to come back and win a race like this after all his traveling."
This was Godolphin's third successive victory in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes following on from Fantastic Light (2001) and Dubai Millennium (2000) and fourth in all--the other winner was Faithful Son in 1998.
Banks Hill was a champion twice over last year, taking titles in England and in the U.S., where she won the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf and earned the champion grass mare Eclipse Award. She is a homebred racing for Prince Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms.
Teddy Beckett, the racing manager for Juddmonte, was pleased with the way that the Danehill filly had run. "She ran nicely but just didn't quite pick up in the way that we had hoped on this ground," he said. "She's run a very decent race and she's improved greatly with much progress from when she ran last time at Longchamp. She's still in various 1m 2f races and we'll look where we go now."
J. Stan Cosgrove bred Grandera (Grand Lodge--Bordighera, by Alysheba) in Ireland. He is a grandson of French group winner Blue Trip. Grandera was consigned to the 1999 Goffs October yearling sale by Camas Park Stud and purchased by Amanda Skiffington for $40,899. James Fanshawe had the colt's early training duties. The colt now has four wins in 13 starts, plus six placings. He had already broken the million-dollar barrier before the Prince of Wales's.