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Isle Of Jura bounds to Hardwicke success under an emotional Callum Shepherd

3 minute read

George Scott and Callum Shepherd found themselves on the board at Royal Ascot this year following Isle Of Jura striking performance in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes.

ISLE OF JURA winning the Hardwicke Stakes at Ascot in England.
ISLE OF JURA winning the Hardwicke Stakes at Ascot in England. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Isle Of Jura extended his winning sequence to five to provide both trainer George Scott and jockey Callum Sheperd with their first Royal Ascot successes.

Shepherd, who lost the ride on Ambiente Friendly ahead of the Epsom Derby earlier in the season, was winning at the royal meeting for the first time following 65 losing rides.

The four-year-old son of New Approach was sent off an easy-to-back 16/1 chance for Royal Ascot glory, despite four consecutive victories this year. George Scott's gelding was one of the stories of the winter after landing the Bahrain Triple Crown before returning to the UK with a hard-fought success in the Listed William Hill Festival Stakes over ten furlongs at Goodwood last month.

Always well-positioned under a confident Callum Shepherd, the pair looked to be travelling best as the field swung for home. The duo latched onto the heels of the pacesetters at the top of the home straight, before kicking clear to score by an authoritative three and three-quarter lengths from the French raider Goliath.

The well-fancied 9/4 chance Middle Earth ran on to finish third, while Continuous could only manage fifth on his first outing since filling the same position in the Arc last season.

"With all the emotions coming out I'm going to struggle to compose myself," said Shepherd, who was holding back the tears just moments after saluting the crowd crossing the line.

"He's been such a special horse to George and the team and for Sheikh Nasser to be here having enjoyed all this success in Bahrain, he's a very good horse and he just never lets us down. The last six weeks have been quite difficult and that just feels really special."

It was also a first Royal Ascot winner for trainer George Scott, who said of the winner: "He's an exceptional racehorse and it was an exceptional race from start to finish. He was the right horse at the right time (in his career).

"It's amazing. Just over a year ago, he was well beaten in a Thirsk maiden. To do this for Sheikh Nasser (Victorious Racing), such a big supporter of mine is very special.

"We are just blessed to have him; he's repaid us time and time again and the journey from hereon in is going to be very very special.

"Most best-laid plans go to pot, but this has been a long-term plan. This was an obvious race for him. We knew Goodwood would bring him on, and it has. We knew he would get the ground, and he has. It was a scintillating performance, so we shall enjoy it.

"Callum is a top-class rider he had his horse in the right position all the way, kicked nice and early and put the race to bed. It was a perfect ride. All roads lead to the King George, 100 per cent."

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