Royal Ascot 2023

Classy Tahiyra crowned Coronation Stakes queen

Tahiyra provided legendary Irish trainer Dermot Weld with a second Coronation Stakes success, 45 years after Sutton Place won the mile G1 prize in 1978.

The 8/13 favourite was ultimately much the best in a steadily run race but had to survive a stewards’ enquiry after interfering with eventual runner-up Remarquee around a furlong from home.

Having sat last of the six runners, Tahiyra led entering the final furlong and saw it out well to win by a length. Remarquee rallied to go down by a length, bouncing back from a disappointing run in the 1,000 Guineas, with Sounds Of Heaven a head further back in third.

This was a first Royal Ascot winner for jockey Chris Hayes and an 18th in all for Weld, but his first since Free Eagle captured the 2015 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.

Tahiyra, who is a half-sister to Weld’s Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Tarnawa, has now won three G1 prizes from five career starts.

Weld said: “I have been very fortunate. I’ve won many Group Ones around the world, I think this is my 18th Group race to win here at Royal Ascot. I have been very fortunate in life.

“I was a little bit concerned in the early part of the race, but Chris did the right thing to take her back. Plan B came into action, which was to take your time – it’s a long straight at Ascot and she has brilliant speed, and that’s what he did.”

He added: “I suppose she’s learning more about racing, she’s getting more professional. I thought she won fair and square. She and her sister are different. Her sister was unbelievably tough, stayed really well, won the Breeders’ Cup Turf and those two very good Group Ones in France for me. And she was beaten a neck in the Arc in ground that was just too dead for her on the day. Her sister was a brilliant racemare and this one is equally good. They are different sorts, this one has more pace. I enjoy so much training these fillies, I know the families and do my best to train them.”

On what the plan for this filly is now, he said: “I think the plan always was to give her a nice holiday, a nice break. She’s had a very busy spring/early summer and she will have a nice break now and we will look at a programme for her in the autumn.”

Asked whether the ground was a slight unknown before the race, he said: “I was happy, she’s a light-actioned filly and I was pleased with her, she was doing everything right for me at home.”

Hayes said: “Tahiyra loaded late into the stalls. She got a little agitated for a second and lost her hind-end on me. I wanted to be closer, but she was running keen because she half frightened herself. I had to ride her nice and cool and get her to relax; it was a slow pace and she did well considering she was running at a quickening pace [in the straight]. She had a little look at the stands for half a stride. I can’t wait to ride this filly in a properly run mile race to really see what she’s made of.

“The boss just filled me up with confidence. We had a good chat this morning after I walked the course, I told him what I thought might happen and what might not happen. He said to me, ‘just do what you always do’. So that was a nice little pat on the back going out and that just gave me the confidence to do the right thing by the filly and take her out of it.

“She slipped coming out the gates and I had to go to Plan B and forfeit my position early to Rob [Hornby on runner-up Remarquee], who was keen as well. I knew this filly could over-race and that I could be there too soon. It wasn’t going to be straightforward and I just had to ride her like she was the best and the fastest in the field. Like I said, I can’t wait to ride her in a truly run race.”

On what it means to have a horse like her in his career, he added: “It’s unbelievable. Every time I ride for Mr Weld, I just seem to land on my feet, because every year I’ve ridden for him, I had a Group One winner out of it – I’ve had two this year and two last year.

“To get a filly like her at any stage of your career is brilliant, but to think we are only half way through the season and the boss’s horses always get better later on. I don’t know what her immediate plans would be, but she’s a pleasure to have anything to do with. I just have to make sure I don’t get suspended or injured because horses like her don’t come round too often and I’ll appreciate her now.

He added: “This means a lot, because the way a lot of people were talking, I was the only chink in her armour. I wasn’t a chink today anyway.”

Ralph Beckett said of Remarquee: “By the time she did get rolling the gap was closing. You don’t see many of ours with a sheepskin nose band, and she wears it because she is still green. She has not had that much racing. She has run her legs off today. It is a length [she lost], and she has run on again and made up a length in the last half furlong, at least! I am not disappointed with her in the slightest. The Guineas was a non-event – she had only had two starts and is a slow learner! She will go for the Falmouth next, I think that will suit.”

Rob Hornby added: “Remarquee has run a great race and it is nice that she has stepped up. She has put the run at Newmarket behind her. It probably came a little early in the season and after a hard run in the Fred Darling.”

Sounds Of Heaven’s jockey Ronan Whelan said: “It was a great run. On paper it looked straightforward from my point of view, and thankfully the race went like that. My filly has run a belter and I think there is more to come from her. She is not the finished article yet. She will be better as the year goes on.”

4.20pm Coronation Stakes (Group 1) (British Champion Series)

1 Tahiyra (H H Aga Khan) Dermot Weld IRE 3-9-02 Chris Hayes 8/13F

2 Remarquee (Julian Richmond-Watson) Ralph Beckett 3-9-02 Rob Hornby 25/1

3 Sounds Of Heaven (Craig Bernick & J Camilleri) Jessica Harrington IRE 3-9-02 Ronan Whelan

6 ran

Dermot Weld – 18th Royal Ascot winner

Chris Hayes – 1st Royal Ascot winner

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