Tepin boosts legacy with historic victory in Queen Anne
With the deluge of rain around Berkshire, the ground was much too soft for her to produce her typical fireworks, so instead she summoned a champion’s load of class and determination to see off the challenge of Belardo by a half-length.
Tepin thus joined the great Goldikova as the only Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winners to go on to victory in Royal Ascot’s marquee mile. (Barathea had won the 1994 Queen Anne before adding the BC Mile to his resume.)
“The mare is the best thing in the world,” said Tepin’s owner, Robert Masterson, who was the driving force behind her Royal Ascot mission.
“She is fantastic and did a fantastic job today. People say Americans have to have drugs in their horses but she had no drugs, no nasal strip and nothing that everybody was worried about in the paper. She just performed magnificently. It is a great message to send back home.
“The biggest thing we were worried about was the ground. She has won on the soft before but we weren't exactly sure how it was. She had never been on a straight track and she had never been going uphill. There were a lot of things to overcome for the first time and she just did it. I think Mark Casse and Norman [Casse’s son and assistant trainer] have done a wonderful job. If it wasn't for them, we would not be here.”
“There were a lot of things stacked against today,” trainer Mark Casse said, “but in the end her greatness prevailed. A lot of people in the United States will be delighted with this result.
“I have to tip my hat to Robert Masterson -- he was a true sportsman who encouraged us to come.
“We trained her without Lasix and all the things she was accustomed to and we felt that she handled that fine. She thought she was over here on vacation and then before the race she realized that she had to work. She will be fine, go back and relax. She is just a remarkable horse.
“Julien Leparoux hit her a couple of times which he usually doesn't have to so I was just waiting for the wire to come.
“Thanks to everybody. They have all been so kind and it has just been a first class experience. We truly appreciate it. Everyone has been just wonderful with us. It is something to remember. I couldn't even dream anything like this. To be here and run at the most remarkable place I have ever been and actually have a winner here with a great horse like Tepin, I mean what can I say, it is so special.”
“You have to bring the right horse over here,” Norman Casse said, “and we definitely did. She takes everything in her stride and as soon as she got off the plane, we knew she would do alright. Julien Leparoux rode a perfect race on her.”
“She had a lot to prove,” Leparoux said, “because we know she is a champion in America, but she had work to do coming here.
“It's just amazing. We knew we came here with a good chance, but Tepin overcame a lot things today. She is a champion and proved it today.
“She had to work for it today. The last 100 meters was a long way to go and I am glad we got it done.”
Belardo’s trainer and rider, Roger Varian and James Doyle, complimented the remarkable winner.
“I thought a furlong from home we might just catch her,” Varian said, “but she just kept finding more and more.
“When everything goes right and there are no excuses and there is one better, you have to tip your hat to the winner and say fair play to the American filly. I thought it was commendable to come over here and win under such different conditions.”
“Hats off to the winner,” Doyle said. “She's got to be pretty special to do that. I thought for a minute I was grinding her down but she found a bit more.”
Mark Casse added that Tepin’s international ventures might not be over. After mentioning the Woodbine Mile (G1) as a possible stepping stone to a Breeders’ Cup Mile title defense, he added that a Dubai trip could be in the offing in early 2017.
Tepin was the bright spot in an otherwise forgettable day for US hopes, underscoring the magnitude of her accomplishment.
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner Mongolian Saturday wound up ninth behind Profitable in the King’s Stand (G1). The biggest disappointment was favored Mecca’s Angel, who gave way badly and beat only one home in 16th.
Worked up prior to the race, Mongolian Saturday had to be led riderless all the way to the start by his groom, with jockey Florent Jeroux jogging along behind him. He showed customary early speed, but the testing straight course ultimately sapped him.
“He broke sharp enough from the gate and was traveling well,” Geroux said. “I don't know really what happened then, whether it was the ground or going straight (rather than round a bend) for the first time he felt comfortable until we came to 200-mark, after that he was rather flat."
Mongolian Saturday has also been under consideration for a quick turnaround in Saturday's Diamond Jubilee (G1), but hopefully connections will rethink.
The victorious Profitable is now perfect from three starts this season, having taken the Temple (G2) and Palace House (G3) by way of preps.
The St James’s Palace (G1) served up a summit of Guineas winners, with Newmarket hero Galileo Gold upsetting The Gurkha, the red-hot favorite after dominating the French 2000 Guineas. Galileo Gold was also turning the tables on Awtaad, who’d dismissed him last out in the Irish 2000 Guineas.
But rather than being the clear-cut verdict everyone wanted, the St James’s Palace rewarded the better tactics, and not necessarily the overall better horse. Frankie Dettori was a mastermind on the winner, executing a stalking trip and stealing a march on his principal rivals. Awtaad never traveled as smoothly as he did at the Curragh, and The Gurkha simply had too much ground to make up on this kind of surface. In a rematch, I still doubt Galileo Gold wins. Call me recalcitrant or obstreperous.
Although arguably unlucky with The Gurkha, Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore celebrated an emphatic victory courtesy of unbeaten Caravaggio in the Coventry (G2). Stepping up to 6 furlongs on soft ground was no obstacle to the son of Scat Daddy, who burst 2 1/4 lengths clear of Mehmas. This stamps him the most exciting 2-year-old colt around.
Wesley Ward’s Silvertoni retreated to ninth, but the trainer has good reason to take heart from Caravaggio’s success. For his magnificent Lady Aurelia, the early favorite in Wednesday’s Queen Mary (G2), is also by Scat Daddy. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so worried about the soft ground for her after all.
Rounding out Team USA on opening day, Ward’s Big City Dreamin and Eoin Harty’s Drafted checked in 16th and 17th, respectively, in the Windsor Castle for juveniles. The longshot winner, Ardad, could be the first of a few this week for John Gosden.
Tepin photo by Frank Sorge/Horsephotos.com