Despite stumbling at the start, Equiano dominated the field and scorched home to win the King’s Stand Stakes (Eng-I) by 1 1/2 lengths June 15 at Royal Ascot. It was the second victory in the King’s Stand for Equiano, who also captured the race in 2008.
Quickly recovering from the stumble, jockey Michael Hills sent Equiano immediately to the front, setting a rapid pace that no one else in the field of 12 was able to match. Markab was the first to emerge from the pack to mount a challenge, but was unable to get close to the winner and had to settle for second.
Borderlescott closed well to finish third, a neck behind Markab. Favored Kingsgate Native was never a factor and finished sixth.
The final time for the five furlongs was :59-flat.
It’s taken quite some time for Equiano to regain the form that he had in 2008. Originally conditioned in Spain, the 5-year-old was transferred to trainer Barry Hills early last year. Hills continued to campaign Equiano at the highest level, but horse never returned to the winner’s circle until earlier this year, when he won the listed Abernant Stakes at Newmarket in April.
He followed that up with a victory in the Stanjames.com Palace House Stakes (Eng-III), before finishing second to Kingsgate Native in the Betfred.com Temple Stakes (Eng-II) in his most recent start.
Equiano’s return to form can more likely be attributed to an operation he had earlier this year to aid his breathing.
A delighted Barry Hills said after the race, “He’s a very fast horse and he was always going to win today because he's in such good form."
Michael Hills added, "He stumbled coming out of the gates but once he was back on his feet he was off. What a thrill! Someone beeped a car horn at the three pole and he went even faster.”
Equiano is by Acclamation, out of Entente Cordiale, by Ela-Mana-Mou. He was bred in France by Ecurie Skymarc Farm, and is owned by J. Acheson.