Watch a full replay of the Qipco 1000 Guineas won by Billesdon Brook at Newmarket on Sunday, Tom Stanley's interviews with winning connections, analysis from Lydia Hislop and Chris Dixon and read Geoffrey Riddle's report below.
By Geoffrey Riddle
Billesdon Brook caused the biggest upset in Qipco 1000 Guineas history with a 66-1 win at Newmarket on Sunday.
The chestnut filly could only finish fourth in the Nell Gwyn Stakes less than three weeks ago, but significantly raised her game to give trainer Richard Hannon his second success in the fillies’ Classic after Sky Lantern in 2013.
It was also a first Classic victory for Sean Levey, who admitted afterwards it was a total surprise.
“To be honest I thought she would improve on her fourth in the Nell Gwyn I but thought she had a lot to find.
“Being optimistic if things went our way I thought she’d be in the first four again. Once she came past the three furlong marker and picking up the way she did I was surprised from then on.
“I was so happy coming past the four and she started picking up real good and I started counting down the horses as I came to the two. She was taking me there so easy I thought she was there too early and I hoped to hell she’d keep running all the way to the line. When she came out of that dip she kept going all the way.
“It means an awful lot. I’ve always had great support, always had great support, rode a load of winners and rode in good races just never found that good one.”
Hannon was the first to pay tribute to Levey’s determination.It was a first Classic success for Sean Levey (The Jockey Club)
“He is a great guy, he is there every day and it is very important," he said. "You are not defined by how many winners you have but the good ones and Classic winners.”
Billesdon Brook is by dual purpose sire Champs Elysses out of the Manduro mare Coplow, who also produced Billesdon Bess.
She was bred by Jeanette McCreery and her late husband Bob McCreery and is owned by the Pall Mall partners who number in excess of 20. The syndicate was set up in 2013.
Hannon admitted that Billesdon Brook was not entered in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, but did not rule out supplementing with a share of the £310,487.25 winning prize-money.
“It was a surprise to me but there was nothing flukey about it,” he said.
“All of our Guineas winners needed their first run; Night Of Thunder, Sky Lantern.
“I can’t remember if I put her in the Coronation or not. I didn’t see this coming. Perhaps the French Guineas. We’ll sit down afterwards and talk about Arcs and Pegasus races!
“She’s obviously a really good filly. It is so nice to have a syndicate of senior people who have been in the game for a long time who have worked hard for it and they will enjoy it. It is nice to see people like that getting the good side of it.
“I think she is a miler. She did that very well and travelled great.
Fillies' Mile heroine Laurens looked the likely winner when committing for home early under PJ MacDonald, but she was she had no answer to Billesdon Brook’s turn of foot on the good to firm ground that was showcased to good effect at Glorious Goodwood last summer and had to make do with the runner-up spot.
Happily, the 11-4 favourite, was third. Levey received a two-day ban for using his whip above the permitted level.
“It is just a shame that extra 16mm of rain didn’t fall during the week but there is nothing we can do about it,” Laurens’ trainer Karl Burke said.
“She ran a blinding race and PJ has given her a fantastic ride and she is a hgh-class filly.
“She looked to move fine, she probably changed legs going in to the dip and went down it. It is not a question of she wouldn’t handle it but I think she would be better (on softer) in that it would bring stamina in to it a bit more and blunt the speed of the winner.”
Burke underlined how confident he had been before the race. “I thought we came here with a great chance and the winner wasn’t the one we were frightened of,” he added.
“We have a lot to look forward to her during the future. We hadn’t fully turned the screw on her and I’d imagine we would go to the Prix de Diane over 1m2f, apart from anything else she has French premiums. She is in the Irish 1000 Guineas but I’d imagine we would bypass that.”
McDonald, who was the first person to congratulate Levey after the line said: “She has run an absolute blinder. It was just that faster ground that caught her out. We just needed a little bit of cut. She travelled beautifully but just when I let her down, she was feeling that ground a bit and she changed legs a couple of times.
“She has a great attitude and a will to win. She put her head between her legs and she galloped right out. There are plenty of big days in her. She will go straight to the French Oaks, I should imagine.”
The 11-4 favourite Happily was a staying-on third, half a length further back under Ryan Moore, who had caught the red-eye back from America, following a luckless ride on Mendelssohn in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien said: “She will probably go to the Irish Guineas now. Ryan was very happy with her. Her best part of the race was the final half furlong, as she was coming back and finishing well. She doesn’t mind this ground. She does handle ease in the ground but this quicker ground was fine and she is very versatile.
“I’m happy with her run. There were no excuses. We will think about the Irish Guineas and see where we are. If anything, she was a little bit laid back for her first run.”
Wild Illusion was back in fourth for Charlie Appleby. Her jockey, James Doyle, said: “I’m pretty pleased with her. She coped with the ground pretty well and she is crying out for a bit more distance.”