Ascot, Turf, 1609m
17 June 2014

Al Shaqab Racing, who have invested heavily in racing in recent years, landed the first two races of the 2014 Royal Ascot meeting. Its well-backed favourite Toronado (High Chaparral) started the ball rolling in the Gr.1 Queen Anne Stakes, swooping past his rivals a furlong from home and holding off Ballydoyle’s US import Verrazano (More Than Ready) by three quarters of a length.

Richard Hannon Jnr, welcoming in his first Royal Ascot winner at the first opportunity, said, “It is great - wonderful - to get the meeting off to a start like that. Toronado did it very well. He is settling much better this year and Hughesie rode him with all the confidence in the world. He probably needed that and was getting tired approaching the line. He was awesome today and will come on for the race; he had not run for a long time.”

“We will talk to Sheikh Joaan and Harry Herbert, but I would have thought we would be going for the Prix Jacques Le Marois or the Sussex Stakes. Then maybe the Prix Moulin, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup, but we will see. He is every bit as good as any horse we have ever had. Just look at him, the stature of the horse! I was quoted saying that he looks like Superman. He does a hell of a horse. He is the real deal. He has shown a massive turn of foot today.”

Toronado, who had not run since last August’s Gr.1 Juddmonte International, has now won six of his nine starts, and this was his second Gr.1 victory. Bred by Paul Nataf, he is a dual graduate of the Arqana sales ring, both times consigned by Haras d’Ommeel, most recently when purchased as a yearling for €55,000 by Amanda Skiffington. He started racing in the colours of Carmichael Humber and was bought privately by Sheikh Joaan after his unbeaten two-year-old season.

He is by High Chaparral, winner of six Gr.1 races up to twelve furlongs and the sire of eight other Gr.1 winners. His dam, the US-bred Wana Doo (Grand Slam), is a half-sister to the Gr.1 Racing Post Trophy winner Casamento (Shamardal), and the family also includes the Australian Gr.1 winner Heart Of Dreams.

High Chaparral also featured in the pedigree of the Gr.2 Coventry Stakes winner The Wow Signal, who is out of his daughter Muravka. The handsome bay, trained by John Quinn, was always up with the pace in the six- furlong juvenile contest and held on well from the fast- finishing Cappella Sansevero (Showcasing), who had changed hands for £1.3m at Goffs London Sale the previous evening. The Wow Signal had been bought privately for Al Shaqab Racing after winning on his debut at Ayr by nine lengths.

His Malton-based trainer said afterwards, “He worked on Saturday morning and I nearly crashed my four by four trying to keep up with him! We thought he was very good but you need a top-class colt to win a Coventry. Six furlongs here is fine, but this fellow is crying out for seven furlongs and a mile. He will turn up in the Guineas next year with a good chance. He had to run and win today, but he’s very good and I’ll campaign him this season accordingly.”

Extract from European Bloodstock News