October 18 2020
Archie Watson was full of praise for his dedicated team at Saxon Gate after celebrating his first ever Group 1 winner on an unforgettable British Champions Day at Ascot.
Glen Shiel made dreams come true when he ground out a courageous victory in the Quipco British Champions Sprint Stakes in the hands of record-breaking jockey Hollie Doyle.
It was also a first victory at the highest level for Hollie, who had initiated a double little more than half an hour earlier when she won the Group 2 Long Distance Cup on Alan King’s Trueshan.
Glen Shiel’s hard-fought victory was also a landmark achievement for his owners Hambleton Racing – one of the country’s leading horse racing syndicates.
“I’m so proud of Glen Shiel, Hollie, and the whole team,” says Archie, who only began training four years ago.
“Hollie has given him a fantastic ride and he was so tough. He hasn’t stopped improving all year and to win a Group 1 with him is unbelievable. I am so pleased for Hambleton Racing, who are such big supporters of ours, and all of his owners.”
Archie was also full of praise for the man who bought the rapidly improved six-year-old, Blandford Bloodstock’s Tom Biggs. “Huge credit must also go to Tom who works closely with me and bought Glen Shiel for just £45,000 as a 5yo horse In training last year.”
After seeing the gelding net over £220,000 in the six-furlong showpiece, Hambleton Racing’s Simon Turner said: “What a result! Glen Shiel encapsulates everything Hambleton Racing is about. Our blueprint has always been to try and buy at the lower end of the market and compete at the highest level possible. His owners are on cloud nine!”
The chestnut son of Pivotal began a remarkable year by winning an All-Weather handicap at Newcastle in January and after a second success in that grade, proved he was at home in Pattern company when finding only one too good in the Group 3 Prix de Ris-Orangis at Deauville in July.
A breakthrough victory followed in the Group 3 Rathasker Phoenix Sprint Stakes at The Curragh before Glen Shiel took his form to a whole new level with a typically game second in the Group 1 Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock Park in September.
With underfoot conditions in his favour, Archie was rightly optimistic of another bold show at Ascot and was rewarded when Glen Shiel got the verdict in a nerve-racking photo-finish, beating the veteran Brando by a determined nose on his 11th start of the year.
Not only did the victory complete a remarkable double for Hollie, but it gave her the honour of becoming the first female jockey to win at the top level in nine years – just days after she broke her own record for girl riders of 116 winners in a calendar year.
“It’s a dream come true,” she smiled. “It was always my ambition to ride a Group 1 winner but I didn’t think it would happen this year. I’m delighted to do it for Archie who has been such a great support and for Hambleton Racing, who have always had such great faith in Glen.”
By Simon Mapletoft