Rakti wins Queen Elizabeth II on a rain-soaked Saturday at Ascot.

Rakti wins Queen Elizabeth II on a rain-soaked Saturday at Ascot.


Rakti Rumbles Home in Queen Elizabeth II

Rakti held off Lucky Story for a half-length victory Saturday in the $556,530 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Eng-I), the last big event before the Ascot course is closed and rebuilt.

Rakti, a 9-2 shot ridden by Philip Robinson for trainer Michael Jarvis, had led by two lengths in the straight. But Lucky Story, a 16-1 choice with Darryl Holland aboard, narrowed the gap in the charge to the finish. Refuse to Bend was third. Soviet Song, a filly, was the 5-2 favorite but came in fifth.

Rakti benefited from a solid pace set by Godolphin's Blatant as he settled in second for the early running. But when the field turned into the home straight, Rakti made his powerful winning move. Lucky Story, Refuse to Bend and Nayyir all tried to challenge in the final stages, but Rakti held them off.

Two Thousand Guineas winner Haafhd was scratched a couple of hours before post time.

Rakti, a 4-year-old British-bred by Polish Precedent–Ragera (Rainbow Quest), won the Prince of Wales Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot in June. He won the Italian Derby (Ity-I) and the Champion Stakes (Eng-I) at Newmarket last year. A confirmed stayer, Rakti was trying the mile distance for the first time.

"He's a horse that give us problems, not so much at home but on the racecourse," Jarvis told the BBC. "He gets wound up, but today he was very good and he was able to canter down last, which helped.

"I thought he had the speed to win a top-class mile race, but when you are good at 10 furlongs it's difficult to say categorically that is the thing to do. We really had nothing to lose. He'd been beaten the last twice and this was always going to help his stallion potential enormously if he could do it.

Rakti had been a disappointment in his last start, the Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I).

"He didn't run that badly at Leopardstown but he looked a lot tighter here and he was up for it today," Jarvis said.

Robinson added, "I was astounded the first time I ever sat on the horse to be told he had won over a mile and a half in Italy. I said to Michael at the time that he felt like a top-class miler - and he has shown that today.

"The pace helped him relax. Normally you get a true gallop over a mile but over a mile and quarter it can get tactical and people mess you about. I felt the other horse coming but mine just pulled out a bit more and did what was necessary."

Ascot will shut until May 2006, and the 2005 Royal Ascot meet will be staged at York.