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Calandagan cruises to King Edward victory

Calandagan cruises to King Edward victory
Calandagan cruises to King Edward victory

Calandagan delivered an impressive blow for the French raiders at Royal Ascot, as he routed his opponents in the King Edward VII Stakes.

The French contingent looked blessed with plenty of live chances prior to the meeting, but they had to wait until the penultimate race on day four to get on the board via the Aga Khan-owned son of Gleneagles.

Keen to set a stiff stamina test for 2-1 favourite Diego Velazquez, the remaining Aidan O’Brien-trained team forced the pace in the early stages, with Chief Little Rock the one to go on in an attempt to stretch the field.

Having travelled alongside the well-regarded second favourite Space Legend into the straight, Diego Velazquez struggled to make his presence felt, and just as James Doyle began to get busy aboard one of Wathnan Racing’s big-money buys, the eye was drawn to Calandagan who was storming into contention.

Winning trainer Francis Graffard in the Ascot winner's enclosure
Winning trainer Francis Graffard in the Ascot winner’s enclosure (John Walton/PA)

Stephane Pasquier delivered the 11-2 shot with just over a furlong to run and he soon stretched clear of Space Legend for the most taking of victories.

It was trainer Francis-Henri Graffard’s second winner at the Royal meeting having first tasted success with Watch Me in the Coronation Stakes back in 2019.

He said: “With the draw we had we found ourselves a little bit out the back, but we decided to ride him by himself as he’s not used to a big field like that.

“It was very straightforward. It’s a pleasure to come, we’ve had a tough week so it’s good to finish on a nice winner.”

Calandagan hails from the family of Classic winner Clodovil but was gelded at the end of his juvenile campaign.

Graffard added: “First time out at Deauville he was very difficult, he wouldn’t load so we had no choice (but to geld him). I’m sure the Princess (Zahra Aga Khan) will tell me she is upset we gelded him, again! Every win she is telling me, she is not happy, not happy!

“It’s brilliant, I am delighted for her.”

Princess Zahra Aga Khan was at Ascot
Princess Zahra Aga Khan was at Ascot (John Walton/PA)

Princess Zahra added: “He has always been a very good horse and he has shown himself to be improving. Today he has shown himself to be a very good horse.

“They’re all homebred and this family is not one of our oldest families, but it’s good to see them do well as they’re a very consistent family. They tend to be mile-and-a-half horses but he has a turn of foot and it’s wonderful to see.

“He is a special one and he is one we can keep, he will have a really interesting career.”

Ezeliya was a Classic winner in the Aga Khan colours when landed the Oaks last month, but Princess Zahra missed the race due to travel issues.

She added: “That was a once-in-a-lifetime race, the fact that I wasn’t there – I was crying in my mum’s kitchen! It was really bad!”

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