It was a mother-daughter triumph at the first race of the Royal Ascot meeting as Mrs. R.F. Johnson Houghton’s homebred Accidental Agent (GB), trained by her daughter, Eve, scored a 33-1 upset to win the one-mile, $600,000 Queen Anne Stakes (G1) by a half-length over Lord Glitters (FR), and earned an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) through the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge. The Queen Anne was the first of four international Breeders’ Cup Challenge races to be held at the Royal Ascot meeting.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of 82 stakes races, whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, Nov. 2-3.
As part of the benefits of the Challenge series, the Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for Accidental Agent to start in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Breeders’ Cup will also provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters base outside of North America to compete in the World Championships. If not Breeders’ Cup eligible, the Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program by the pre-entry deadline of October 22 to receive the rewards.
In a terrific last-to-first place performance under jockey Charlie Bishop, Accidental Agent, a 4-year-old son of Delegator (GB) out of the Xaar (GB) mare Roodle (GB), won his first career Group 1 and his first race since taking the Totescoop6 Challenge Cup at Ascot on October 7.
Agent Breaks Slow
Accidental Agent broke slowly from the rail in the 16-horse field, but found room in the middle of the race course for the first half of the race. With two furlongs remaining, Lightning Spear (GB) took the lead from 11-4 favorite Benbatl (GB) with American entrant Yoshida (JPN) in third. But the leaders faltered in the final furlong and Accidental Agent made a concerted drive to the inside, edging past Lord Glitters (20-1) and Lightning Spear (10-1) for the win. “I’m glad I’m getting the opportunities and am good enough to deliver – to get a Group One winner, let alone a Royal Ascot winner, is incredible,” said Bishop to RacingUK.
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Owner-Breeder Johnson Houghton said: “I thought I was tilting at windmills and I dreamt about being third. I thought ‘my god, I’m going to be placed’ – there was an awful lot of screaming going on.”
Another longshot, 20-1 Century Dream (IRE), finished fourth, followed by Yoshida, in fifth. Benbatl faded to 10th place, one spot behind the 3-1 second choice Rhododendron (IRE).
The Queen Anne Stakes was the sixth Breeders’ Cup Mile qualifier thus far in 2018. The five other qualifiers are: Legal Eagle (SAF), winner of the L’Oramins Queen’s Plate (G1) at Kenilworth in South Africa; Happy Clapper (AUS), who captured the Star Doncaster Mile (G1) at Royal Randwick in Australia; Nuevo Maestro (CHI), who won the Gran Premio Club Hipico Falabella (G1) at Club Hipico in Santiago, Chile ; Hunt (IRE), winner of the Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita Park in California and Mozu Ascot, who won the Yasuda Kinen (G1) at Tokyo Racecourse earlier this month.
This is the first year that there will be Breeders’ Cup Challenge series races at Royal Ascot. In addition to the Queen Anne, three others races will be automatic qualifiers: The Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) on Wednesday, June 20 for an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1); the Norfolk Stakes (G2) on Thursday, June 21, for an automatic berth into the new Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (G1) on Saturday, June 23 for an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).